On October 12, 2013, the Wall Street Journal ran an essay by Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, titled “Scott Adams’ Secret of Success: Failure.” In the article, Mr. Adams states “goals are for losers.”
I am a huge fan of Dilbert—particularly of Catbert, the Evil HR Director—but I have to disagree with Mr. Adams on this point. He argues that when you are striving to reach a goal, you spend most of your time flogging yourself for not having attained it yet. And once you attain it, you have no more motivation, because you’ve lost your purpose and direction.
Maybe Mr. Adams is just being funny, although some of what he says is true. Often we berate ourselves for not meeting a goal, and we feel a let-down after having achieved it. But that doesn’t mean that goals are useless. It just means we need to be careful in the goals we set.
The secret, I think, is to set reasonable goals.
We all need frequent positive reinforcement. Sometimes we have to give that reinforcement to ourselves. So set goals you can accomplish. Then break them up into manageable bites. And reward yourself when each bite is done. See my earlier post on the need to regularly review performance objectives.
For those of you who are managers, you can help your staff break their goals up into manageable bites as well.
Just think how much easier performance reviews will be to write when you and your staff have frequent accomplishments to list.
Do you believe in goals? How do you make your goals manageable?