Don't you just hate it when you
work hard, make sacrifices and reach a goal, only to find out that you were
operating with the wrong information? Early in my professional career I was told
"if you work hard and make outstanding contributions to your employer then you
will be rewarded with salary increases and promotions."
After following this
advice for years, I found out that this advice is wrong. If you work long hours
and make valuable contributions to your employer then there is a slight chance
it will be noticed and rewarded. Many things can go wrong with this equation,
including your manager taking credit for your work, your employer going
bankrupt, involuntary layoffs, etc. You need more than just hard work to get promotions and salary increases. You need to learn organizational politics, leadership skills and build professional relationships as well.
The same is true on your
projects. You may be managing your projects with the wrong stuff. You may be
using incomplete or inaccurate information, focusing on bureaucratic reports and
applying metrics that no-one cares about while your project goes down in
How do you know if you have the
wrong stuff, or the right stuff?
We are now enjoying the summer
months of 2011. It is the perfect time to reflect on your goals for 2011 and
measure progress towards these goals. If you are like me, then reviewing the
goals you set six months ago fall into these categories.
- Yes, I still want to reach that goal. I must put more effort into that.
- That goal is no longer relevant to me and I am taking it off the list.
- Here is a new goal which was not on my radar six months ago.
- I should start the new diet. (Yes, it is also on my list.)
How do you feel when you review
your list of goals for 2011? Disappointed that you have not yet met your goals?
Satisfied that you reached some of your goals?
Realistically, here is what you
can do to help yourself reach your goals in the remainder of this year.
Obviously, if you have not reached your goals yet, there are reasons for it and
nothing will change unless you make it change.
- Do you have the wrong stuff? (Is the goal realistic for you, do you really
want to reach it?)
- If you have the right stuff to reach this goal then what is preventing you
from reaching it? This is simple but difficult to answer. The best way to work
through this is with an impartial and trusted advisor. Why? Because you can't
see the obstacle, even though it is obvious to a trusted advisor. The common
obstacles are: a) too many goals which diffuses energy and focus, b)
vague goals, c) no plan of manageable steps to reach the larger goal.
- Is your environment supporting or demolishing your attempts to reach the
goal? If your goal is to get better at finishing the projects that you start,
then prioritize your projects, dump the unimportant projects, reduce your
volunteer activities and clear your desk. You largely determine your environment
including your office space and personal relationships. Stack the deck in your
favor and help yourself to create the environment that supports your progress
towards goals. If your goal is to lose weight then consuming large quantities of
hand-crafted beer won't help (even if it is in the name of science.)
- Do you have enough expertise to reach your goal. If not, then ask people who
have reached the goal you are trying to reach and get a fresh perspective. Read
books from authors who have reached the goal. Jump on youtube and gain new
When I work with clients I find
that even project managers don't implement basic planning skills and knowledge
to reach goals. Usually, we know how to reach our goals. We don't implement what
we know for manifold reasons. For example, unclear vision of the goal, steps not
clearly defined, no support network, personal baggage and gremlins that make us
get in our own way.
When you refocus your goals for
the final half of 2011, contemplate if you have the right stuff to reach your
goals. Don't wait until it is too late and reflect with regret on December 31,
Look in your mirror today, ask "Honestly, why have I not reached this goal
yet?" and get help from a trusted advisor or life partner. There is no magic
wand. I have found that talking through the goal and obstacles helps me to
refocus the larger goal and particularly identify the next few steps that must
be taken to reach that goal.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said
"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole
staircase." If you take the few steps in front of you today, then you will probably get to the top of the staircase.
My wish for you, today, is find out if you have the wrong
stuff as quickly as possible. Then find the right stuff and move forward to
reach your goals in 2011, before it is too late.