I cut my entrepreneurial teeth on SMART goal setting. I loved it! All my goals were lined up and neatly organized with numbers, letters, and dates. This system of organizing my goals gave me direction, clarification, focus, and a sense of purpose--a reason to get up in the pre-dawn hours and work long past the sun setting behind the horizon...until recently.
I can't remember the exact moment when SMART goals became a grind. Like sand sifting slowly through an hourglass, the struggle appeared to go unrecognized--until all the sand shifted from one bulb into another and nothing but emptiness and silence filled the top bulb.
Goal setting is much like the famous children's game, Hide-and-Seek. One player is chosen (designated as "it") to close their eyes and count to 10 while all the other players hide from sight. After reaching the predetermined number, "it" begins the painstaking task of finding each and every player.
The game ends when either all players have been found, with the last player found the winner. However, if one child remained sufficiently concealed, unable to be located by "it" until the streetlights came on and everyone needed to be home (or suffer the wrath of parents), the child who put forth the tremendous task of concealing his/her hiding place was declared the winner.
In business, you're "it." You launch your business after a period of contemplation and planning (i.e., count to 10). You set and achieve one goal after another (i.e., finding one player after another). This continues until your business is sold (i.e., all players are found) or until the emotional, financial, and physical weight of the business takes it toll causing you to close the doors (i.e., unable to locate the final "hider").
Either you win, having located all your goals or the goal that remained resourcefully obscured wins.
Ah, yes! I can hear the goal-setting prognosticators now. "Your goals aren't big enough!" "Your goals are too big!" "Your ladder is leaning against the wrong wall!" In fact, in my role as strategic business coach, I've uttered those very statements a time or two. <insert my sheepish grin here>
But, that wasn't the cause of my angst: Every fiber of my being told a different story.
Traditional goal setting is referred to as SMART: specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, and time sensitive. Although there is a place for SMART goals in business, we can't deny the plausibility of hidden goals.
Come Out! Come Out! Wherever You Are!
In the youthful game of Hide-and-Seek, I would yell at the top of my lungs, "Come out! Come out! Wherever you are!" It was as if the screeching would send small children (and wild animals) running from their well-concealed locations.
I called for one goal after another to "come out--wherever they were." I felt like I was stuck in the story of the three bears. This goal was too big. This goal was too small. This goal is all wrong! Goal setting shouldn't be this hard--stressful--anxiety producing.
And, so it was, until the endless seeking uncovered the artfully obscured goals that were my hidden goals.
Discovered by default while away from all things business related in a flash of realization. It wasn't that I wasn't achieving my goals--my goals no longer inspired me. Previously the source of an excited early awakening, my goals were the albatross that caused undue pressure and avoidance.
I didn't want to be stressed and exhausted--collapsing in my chair at the end of each day--being totally mindless in front of the boob tube waiting for my brain cells to snap, crackle, and pop to life again.
That was it! That was one of my true goals. I just hadn't recognized it--until now. Just like in The Invisible Gorilla: And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us, when we are so intensely focused on a particular aspect of the business, such as juggling cash flow or solving production problems, we can miss the most important things that are right in front of us
Happily Every After
Since this significant detection, my work as a strategic business coach has taken on new meaning and fresh excitement. I'm no longer robotically checking off my targets. More importantly, goal achievement is simpler. It is less stressful and time-consuming and more rewarding and enjoyable.
Unearthing hidden goals helped to rediscover my primary driver--the source of energy, inspiration, and motivation.
(Thank goodness I don't have to do penance (a Catholic occurrence). Focusing on the wrong goals is punishment enough.)
Confession from a Strategic Business Coach on Hidden Goals first appeared on Synnovatia.