Are you throwing 'darts in the dark'?
Throwing 'darts in the dark'?!As often happens when I go to write about a topic, I hear someone say something and it sparks off an idea to write about. I was at a talk (can’t even remember who was giving it!) but the speaker used the expression, "it's like throwing darts in the dark"; meaning that if you don't have a goal to work towards, you have no idea where you are heading, and you might as well be throwing 'darts in the dark'. So, in preparing you for the year ahead, I thought I would share the idea with you.
If you cannot see where you are heading you might go wildly off course, or you might even throw the odd dart in the wrong direction and hurt someone.
"I look to the future because that's where I am going to spend the rest of my life." - George Burns
Is it important to have goals? Quite a few people shy away from goals or targets for a variety of reasons:
- Fear of failure, if they say they’ll achieve X, how will they look if they don't?
- Fear of success, how will you handle it if everything goes well, will others still treat you the same?
- Not wanting to be tied down to one particular path.
- Wanting to let serendipity be their guide.
- Feeling the pressure of targets and goals, stressing out about them, rather than being motivated by them.
However, my feeling is that life is a bit like an ultra marathon, you could keep plodding on, not particularly enjoying the journey, or moving forward from one task (or month) to the next with no plan, or perhaps even give up and start to drift into unhelpful behaviours or avenues. Or you could map out your journey, with staging posts or milestones along the way.
And yes, I realise that I am mixing my metaphors here, from dart boards to marathons but you get my gist!
"The ultimate goal should be doing your best and enjoying it." - Peggy Fleming 1948 US Olympic Gold Medallist ice skating
The value of milestones
I was talking to someone recently who was saying that the new year is just an arbitrary marker, which people often use to beat themselves up with as the previous year draws to a close and you feel you have not achieved what you set out to achieve that year.
Yet, just like a walk, we often like to know how far we have come and how far we have to go, although I realise that for some personality types, they are in the moment enjoying the walk without a care about the past or where they are necessarily heading.
What will be your milestones?
How often do you feel you need them: Weekly? Monthly? Annually? One of my coaching clients sets her new year’s resolutions on her birthday, which in some ways makes more sense, as it is a new year for yourself.
"If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favourable." - Seneca
Celebrations vs recriminations
Working with many teams in diverse organisations, a constant complaint is that good work or going the extra mile rarely gets recognised, whilst the moment a mistake is made, boy, do they know about it, and often quite publicly as well.
Teams who are either in conflict or simply trying to find more effective ways of working with each other, could look to share the following:
- What successes have you had?
- What challenges have you faced?
- What have you learned along the way?
Almost all teams never share their successes and how good it feels to do that. Why don't they share their mistakes or things going wrong? Because the challenges and lessons learned are a much more constructive way of looking at mistakes and these questions move people beyond a mistake to lessons learned.
Ask yourself the above questions, perhaps for both in and out of work. Ask your colleagues, family members.
"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so." Douglas Adams
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About Melanie Greene
Melanie Greene is an occupational psychologist, NLP master practitioner with over 30 years of experience. She works as a coach, trainer and mediator in a wide variety of businesses, specialising in communication issues in the workplace and helping people to learn how to manage the pressures and stresses of work and life.