Why Goals

Before we get too far into 2019, it strikes me that it would be beneficial to say something about goals. Some people detest goals and do what they can to remain uncommitted to anything. They like to let life “just happen” and then respond to it as needed. Others like to plan everything down to the last detail and obsess about the smallest thing until they have difficulty sleeping at night, should something not work out exactly as they had planned. There’s probably a happy medium in there somewhere.

I happen to like setting goals. I have learned through the years that having something set out before me allows me to focus my energy on things that are important and not get distracted by others that are not as important. I do not have to “do it all.” This was a very good lesson for me to learn, especially coming from a background of being a parish priest. I had this unhealthy sense that I had to respond to any and all calls, no matter what, or I would somehow disappoint my parishioners. Taking a look at it from the distance of time and space, I can honestly admit that some of that compulsion to always be there stemmed from a desire to be needed on my part. If they kept asking for me, then I must be wanted. Setting goals in business helped – somewhat.

In business, it’s common practice to set out individual and team goals in the beginning of the year. These often focus on production (especially in sales organizations) and can ultimately determine one’s pay or career advancement. In recent years, I noticed an attempt to generate a discussion about “soft goals” (i.e. those goals that are perhaps nice to have but are not deemed critical to the sales cycle). The problem with this approach is the incredibly shame-inducing nature of the whole discussion. It’s easy to see that one’s worth (as determined by the organization) is a factor of one’s performance (i.e. sales). In a real sense, I “am” what I “do.” This is not helpful and could be counter-productive.

However, one important lesson that IS helpful in goal-setting is the “x to y by when” formula. So rather than simply saying that I want to lose weight this year (perhaps the number one goal for many Americans), I have put that goal as “I will go from 218 pounds to 200 pounds by 12/31/19.” I have other such goals in my 2019 plan. I have clear expectations and can hold myself accountable to a particular outcome. I also have a better idea of what I need to do along the way – like cutting calories, regularly working out – and can plan accordingly. In life, as in baseball, I have to show up, dig in, suck less. People count on me. I need to do my part, for them and for myself.

Am I a terrible person if I end up weighing 205 at the end of the year? Or am I an even better person if I weigh 190? No. I am the same unique Child of God that I am now; loved for who I am and what I am, not what I do or do not do. In life, in business, and in baseball we have performance levels that are necessary for healthy relationships and interaction; certain expectations, if you will. On a baseball team, my colleagues count on me to get hits, get on base, and score runs. The difference here is that performance is based upon relationships, NOT a pre-determined end result. In baseball, to show up, dig in and suck less along the way – and –

contribute my share of Little League affirmation to others, creates a safe and affirming atmosphere where I WANT to do my best. With persistence, practice and determination, I end up BEING productive. Setting out goals just means that I care. Expressing them tells others that will do my best, for the sake of all of us.

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