Tuesday, October 16, 2007

You can't get there from here if you don't know where here and there are.

A horoscope on my birthday opined:

Happy birthday, Virgo! You are a great communicator, which lands you in unusual situations with interesting people. With so many new opportunities crossing your path over the next year, your verbal skills will be beneficial. Expect to be meeting new people and looking at projects that wouldn't usually get your attention. It's a year of excitement, but be ready: You'll have to be organized to keep up with what's happening.

Being organized. Not a forte, there.

Contrary to my astrological archetype/stereotype, I am FAR from organized. And planning? Not to save my life. Well, no - that is inaccurate. My planning skills are, well, disorganized. It's a skill Ive never learnt how to acquire or polish. (Dating an organized person demonstrates just how inadequate those skills are.)

Thank god for the Internets.
Ok, so planning is a matter of goal setting. And how does one systematically set goals?

To be useful, goals should:

* Be specific. A specific count. A specific action with a specific parameter.

* Have a time limit. Goals with no fixed time period have a way of being unmet. Perpetually. It's easy to say, "oh, I'll get to that next week" if you don't have a deadline. Next week never arrives, at least for your goal.

* Be measurable. The only way you know if you attained a goal is if you can measure against it (keep reading).

* Be communicated. Not communicating a goal to at least one other person is like making a prediction on the future but not telling anyone. It doesn't count when your prediction comes true, because no one knew you predicted it. Likewise, goals tend to be the same. The coward's way out is to not communicate your goals to anyone else. This gives you wiggle room to save face if you don't meet them. But you're making a classic mistake if you do this: you're making the assumption that not meeting a goal is somehow a badge of shame. No, it just means you didn't meet the goal. Either you keep trying to meet that goal, or you set a slightly less ambitious goal next time. The fate of the world doesn't rest on whether you meet your photographic goal, so there's no shame in not meeting it. Indeed, there's a lot to be learned by not meeting it. You may have thought you could progress faster than you can, now you have a better sense of the rate at which you can. You may have underestimated the task, next time you won't. Many "overnight sensations" failed miserably for quite some time before they finally broke through. It's better to earn your 15 minutes of fame than to luck into it. That's because it might last more than 15 minutes if you worked at achieving it.

* Be ambitious. It's not only okay to set your goal high, but it's also important to the whole process. It's only when your goals are above what you're comfortable of achieving that you progress. Say your goal was to wake up every morning and eat breakfast. Not a very high goal, is it (and when you fail, so what, you won't be around to take the blame ;~)? Everyone reading this has achieved at least half that goal every day so far, so why would tomorrow be any different? Now if the goal were to get up an hour earlier than usual and use that extra time to write the next great novel, now we're getting somewhere. Very few people achieve higher than they aspire. Read that again. Very few people achieve higher than they aspire. The very best achieve almost as high as they aspire, and they aspire higher than the rest of us. Those without goals or with goals that aren't ambitious enough, will constantly be frustrated at not achieving what they aspire.

* Be realistic. While I just said set your goals high, they also need to be within the realm of achievable or else you'll eventually get frustrated and just give up. The monkey has to see the banana to reach for it. Don't put your banana in a locked room underwater miles offshore unless you're a Navy Seal by the name of Houdini.

* Be evaluated. At the end of your time limit, you look at whether you met the measurements and specifics you set. This is a pass/fail class that is repeatable without penalty, so don't be afraid. If you met your goals, great, you set them too low and can be more ambitious next time (congratulations on making it another rung up the ladder). If you partially met your goals, you're doing fine, and you know that you set them about right (congratulations on getting partway up the ladder). If you didn't meet your goals, you're still doing okay because now you know that you tackled more than you could handle and you'll either have to dedicate more time and energy to the effort or set slightly less ambitious goals that you can achieve with the resources you can throw at them (congratulations on finding the ladder and trying to climb it). It's okay to climb the ladder slowly and rung by rung. It's the old tale of the hare and the tortoise: sheer speed isn't necessarily the winner.

Aright. *rolls eyes* Boring.

But necessary.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you can do it! i sometimes have to resort to mini to do list instead of looking at the mile-long list of my life...what i can realistically fit on one index card is all i get done for the day and i'm happy with that knowing all these baby steps are going somewhere

let's hope i find that passport today out of my 5 "boxes of shame" so i can get the financial aid to pay for school!