Posted by: kevinliebl | May 8, 2009

The Journey or the Destination? Why do we always seem to get it wrong?

Setting Goals

The journey or the goal?

Which is more important, the journey or the destination?  It all depends on your goals.

Throughout life, we are constantly reminded that we should focus on the journey, not the destination.  Every book I have read about life management has reminded me that I need to live in the present.  My wife reminds me of this fact almost daily.  However, what do I do?  I spend my life focusing on planning family vacations, career opportunities, college funds, and retirement.  I am missing out on the present.  The bottom line – I spend far too little time enjoying a simple family dinner, reading with my daughter, or playing a game of basketball with my two sons.  Keeping a balance is an ongoing challenge.  In our personal lives, the goal is to enjoy the present.  The goal is not to rush to the finish line.  I don’t know about you, but I am not in any rush to get to the end.  However, we all tend to focus on rushing through our lives and getting to the end.  Why do we focus on the wrong goal?

In business, we are programmed to set objectives, create measurable results and drive toward the goal.  However, we all tend to lose sight of the goal and spend an incredible amount of energy focusing on the journey.  Corporate bureaucracy can become paralyzing. How many times have you reached the end of the week and said, “I worked incredibly hard and I can’t point to anything I accomplished!”  Too many organizations have difficulty focusing on the goal at hand.  There is a human tendency to need to stay busy, and this is particularly evident in the corporate world.  We surround ourselves with meetings, report-outs, planning sessions and 1-on-1 sessions to provide the illusion of importance and productivity.

How many times have you questioned a colleague’s work because they seemed to cut corners?  They borrowed someone else’s template.  They leveraged pre-existing work without putting in the “sweat-equity” and you felt resentful.  As long as they didn’t steal the template, or use erroneous data to draw conclusions – good for them!  As one of my managers once said to me, “never confuse effort with results”.  Again, why do we focus on the wrong goal?

Action Item:  Take a piece of paper and fold it in half vertically.  On the left side, list your top three goals for the week.  Under each one, list the key steps necessary to accomplish each goal.  Then on the right side of the paper, list all the activities you have planned for the week.  Circle the activities that directly correlate to your necessary steps on the left side of the page.  Draw a line under the items that are required for your job.  Draw a line through everything else.  Now go back to the items that you drew a line under and determine if they can be eliminated or delegated to someone else.  You will be surprised how your week will open up.  Finally…, go back and complete your goals!

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