Thursday, September 22, 2016

Missing a Target?

Do you feel like you are missing the target?  It is a feeling that you are coming up short; that you are not making the progress you want to make, personally or professionally.

Maybe you have a feeling of restlessness or minor agitation, maybe you find yourself procrastinating all of the time, or maybe you have a general sense of discontent.

The times in my life where I have felt this way what I have come to realize is that I didn’t have clearly defined goals, or that I had too many goals to focus the appropriate time, energy, and attention to be successful.

Imagine that you came into a room and you saw someone throwing darts.  As you look at the wall to which the darts are headed you see that there is no dart board.  That would be strange, wouldn’t it?  Yet, this describes the daily efforts of most people.  Sure they may work off of a to-do list, they may think about the chores or tasks that need to be done today to advance current projects to the next level.  Very often, however, they cannot concisely define the long term goals to which they aspire.  Often they cannot clearly explain how their current efforts fit with a life vision.

The other scenario is where the wall has several dart boards and the thrower is whipping the darts at the wall as fast as he can and hoping that some of them hit the targets.  He almost don’t care which targets are hit as long as some of them hit.  You’ve heard the expression, “if you throw enough sh** at the wall, some of it will stick.”

In either situation the dart thrower does not get better, there is no skill improvement, and there is very little probability of a bulls-eye.  

In life this means that we do not advance, we do not see progress.  We often get the sense that we need to work harder, so we get up earlier or we stay up later.  We might work extra hours at work.  We try to work more efficiently.  We might search for better technology.  We desperately search for solutions.

On the other hand we might be so frustrated that we stray from work.  We procrastinate.  We might engage more in idle chit-chat at work.  We might gravitate toward social media or news websites instead of work.  We might even self-medicate our feelings of desperation with food, alcohol, or even drugs.  Then we might find that we fall behind in our work, fall behind in completing our daily tasks such that it seems we never have time to catch up.  It becomes, you know it, a vicious cycle.

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, your gut level reaction might be:  “sure, I know I should set aside some time for goal setting, life planning, and creating a vision, but I just don’t have the time for that right now.”  Yep.  You didn’t have time for that last year either.

Stephen Covey in The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People says that we should “begin with the end in mind.”  You might think that it is too late because you’ve already begun.  

I like how the poet Carl Bard puts it:  
 “Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, my friend, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.”

Yes, goal setting requires time and effort.  You will have to make it a priority somehow, some way.

A coach might help you.  Having a coach brings a certain accountability to bear that you cannot have on your own.  You will have appointments that you will keep.  You will be asked challenging questions that you’ve avoided thinking about in the past.  You will have specific, focused homework to do between appointments.  You will be expected to complete the homework.  Your efforts will be systematically organized to bring forth decisions.  The decisions you make will reveal your target.

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