(first published in Staff Canteen : a digital portal for Chefs)
Have ever been taught how to set yourself a goal?
Have you ever been on a goal setting course?
Have you ever listened to any motivational tapes about Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAGs)?!
Probably not, unless you have a corporate background, so you might be wondering how anyone could make such a meal over this. There is a huge number of books, tapes, videos and courses on the subject but this need not concern us here – suffice it to say goal setting is a subject all of its own that we may return to in another posting.
For the moment the bigger issue is how do you know what goal to set yourself? You can learn about setting SMART goals – Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Relevant; Time-bound and then set yourself the goal “to start my own business by 30th January 2017″. That seems to match the criteria pretty well so it must be a well-formed goal. The problem for me is whether you’re sure that’s what you really want. It’s a bit like going to university after school; for some people it’s a real goal but for others it just seems to be the thing to do.
Before setting yourself some big goals this year you might want to consider how clear you are about what really matters to you. What values do you hold around your chosen career path? What is your core purpose?
You don’t have to believe in the gods to entertain the idea that if they are playing a big game with us and we’re just pieces, what is the role your piece plays on the board?
Not to get too deep and philosophical about this, we’re talking about your true values, not the things politicians speak about such as “good old-fashioned family values” – that’s just what they call meaningless motherhood and apple pie. Thinking about this stuff properly can save you years of hard work, striving to get somewhere you never wanted to be in the first place. If – and it’s a big ‘if’ – you eventually achieve your goal of starting that business you might find yourself wondering if it was all worth the effort. You are almost certainly clever and hard-working enough to make anything happen if you put your mind to it; so be careful what you put your mind to!
In fact once you’ve done the thinking about your core purpose (mission if you prefer) and your true values, many things get easier, including the hard work needed to achieve things. Take a look at a couple of famous purpose, or mission, statements:
Walmart: to “…save people money so they can live better”
Disney: to “…develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world”
These aren’t complicated corporate jargon statements; they are pretty straightforward lines that tell us (and themselves) what they are here to do. The real point though is that once you’ve figured out your own you can use this as a decision template for most choices you will be faced with in future. It’s obvious that although selling insurance might be profitable for Disney to get into, why would they; it just doesn’t fit with what they are here for.
Knowing your own real purpose for which you have a passion, the goals you set each year may well vary but you’ll almost certainly find the energy and commitment to make them happen because they should all continue to be in line with this single purpose. There are many ways to skin a cat but this way you will end up with a skinned cat and not a dead horse – to mix metaphors!
The trick is how to uncover these unconscious beliefs and principles so you can make clear conscious decisions based on them. Let me give you a couple of tips:
Try asking yourself, “if I gave up work tomorrow and no-one else took over from me, what would the rest of the world be missing (even if they don’t realise it yet)”?
On the basis that you’re going to be spending many hours of your life doing work make a list of single words or very short phrases that come to mind when you ask yourself, “what matters to me about the kind of work I do?” Then take each one and ask again, “why does that matter to me?” Each time you ask “why” you’re getting closer to the real heart of the matter until you end up with maybe 10 key values. Every decision you make from now on can be made with this list in mind e.g. when recruiting employees. If they have a very different set of values beware hiring them, no matter how competent they are. They just won’t ‘fit’.
Finally to get back to setting that goal of starting your own business, when you’ve done that will it have kept you focused on your real reason for bothering to work?