Achieving Goals

January 4, 2018

I have made New Year’s resolutions, but I have never really kept them. Usually they involve weight loss or eating healthier. I decided to give myself a pep talk and think about how I could make and keep a New Year’s resolution. I told myself, “Fulfilling New Year’s resolutions, requires setting goals. In order to achieve the goal I must get into a creative and confident state of mind to allow me to visualize not only achieving the final goal, but also any necessary mini-goals that must be met along the pathway to this major goal. I must focus on each of these steps along the pathway until the mini-goal is achieved, but not let myself become so focused on any one of these steps that I lose sight of the final goal and stray off the path. While walking on this pathway I may realize that something is missing. I must insert another step, another mini-goal, in order to achieve the desired result. The key is not to become discouraged and give up, but to realize that this is a journey to a place worth getting to.”

Achieving a team goal is a little different from achieving a personal goal. I am a member of a team, a good team, in my opinion. We usually abide by the things I am going to suggest, but as a mental exercise I am going to give some imaginary team members advice similar to what I gave myself.

If I were a team leader, responsible for making sure my group achieves a certain goal, there are certain things I would need to consider. When I assign tasks, I must make sure one person (or one group of people) does not become so overloaded that they find it difficult to keep the final goal in mind. They may become bogged down with details and become over-stressed to the point that they lose focus and “stray off the path.” Some people are capable and talented and real team players. I might be tempted to keep piling things on them because I know that I can count on them to get the job done. But even these people can be overloaded to the point that they stumble and fall. With the less talented and less-than-eager team members I might think that they are being lazy or careless when they don’t perform well. Perhaps they are carrying burdens, things beyond their control, that I am not aware of or do not recognize as factors affecting their performance. It may also be important to realize that if I criticize my team members too often without looking at the whole situation, I may be producing divisiveness and low morale instead of the good team spirit that we need to achieve our goal. Letting my team members know that I support them and have confidence in them can often accomplish more than constructive criticism. Using the carrot instead of the stick might be more effective sometimes, especially if I have a good team to start with. Do I truly think of myself as a member of the team, or am I above the rest of the team?

As a team member I must try to understand how my individual job fits into the overall plan and how doing my job well helps other team members to do theirs well too. Sometimes it may be necessary to put on mental blinders for a short while to focus on my task, but I must not keep them on too long or I may not see what is going on around me. My team leader may feel the need to offer constructive criticism. I must strive to take it as it is meant—for the benefit of the team as a whole and the achievement of the goal. If I feel the criticism is unjustified, I should defend myself, but try to keep the discussion business-like and as unemotional as possible. I must resist the temptation to see the team leader as the enemy and myself as the victim. This attitude is unproductive and harmful. I must do my best—that is all that can be expected. If I complete a task earlier than expected, I should offer my assistance to another team member. Sharing the load makes the burden lighter. The final goal will not be met unless all the mini-goals are met.

Whether I take the pathway to the goal alone or with others, I must stay focused, but not be too hard on myself or my companions, if any. The hazards along the way may beat me (or us) up a little, so I shouldn’t make the journey harder than it has to be. I must be ready to make changes as necessary, but never lose sight of the final goal, and the journey will probably end in success, goal achieved.

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