Are you throwing 'darts in the dark'?
I was at a talk recently when 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 and you have no idea where you are heading, you might as well be throwing 'darts in the dark'.
This prompted some thoughts about the importance of goal setting that I wanted to share with you.
Why is it important to have goals?
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
Some 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 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 Ice Skating Gold Medallist
The value of milestones
I was talking to someone recently who was saying that a new year is just an arbitrary marker, which people often use to beat themselves up. As the year draws to a close and you feel you have not achieved what you set out to achieve, it’s typical to feel full of disappointment.
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 your milestones be?
And how often do you feel you need them: Weekly? Monthly? Annually?
One of my coaching clients sets her new 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.
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. However, 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?
Most teams never share their successes and, so, never experience how good it feels to do that. And, by sharing challenges and lessons learned, these questions move people beyond a ‘mistake’ to lessons learned - this is a more constructive way of looking at things.
Ask yourself the above questions, perhaps for both in and out of work. Ask your colleagues, friends and family members, too.
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