The Problem with Goals

The Problem with Goals

Everyone knows that you have to set goals in order to be successful, right? There are data to back up that assertion. I don’t remember the exact source now, but I remember hearing a study that saw a correlation with significantly higher salaries for people who had clear career goals versus people who didn’t–and even among those with clear goals, the ones that actually wrote the goals down had even higher salaries than those who didn’t write them down.

So we take this to heart in organizations and set goals, often through strategic planning. We make them specific and measurable, and maybe even big and hairy and audacious. But we know, without a doubt, that if we DON’T set the goals, then we will flounder.

But are we fooling ourselves? Has it occurred to you that perhaps it’s not the goal that actually drives your success, but the clarity that you achieved in setting that goal?

I was very interested to learn that the Construction Financial Management Association recently eliminated its goal of growing membership. This sounds like blasphemy for an association. Isn’t it a given that they should grow membership? Perhaps, but unfortunately for CFMA, focusing on that goal each and every year didn’t seem to be helping them to achieve it. But as soon as they let go of the goal, they were able to focus on something more important: actually being valuable to the members.

Please stop setting random membership or sales targets. Instead, dig a little deeper into what actually drives your success and focus on that.