We asked, “What do we want to do when we grow up?” This was an especially ironic question given that we were in our late 30s and early 40s and many of us had kids of our own. You would think we would have this question figured out. Instead, we discovered that many people were in our boat and that boat was out to sea. We sought to make a path to discover our purpose and create accomplishments in our lives. In short, get stuff done.
How do we get to our goals? That’s a goal in and of itself, so a collection of goal-challenged people were ill-equipped to spontaneously come to that answer. After getting the framework of the questions together, we needed a dedicated period to hammer all this out. We spent a weekend together on a set of guided exercises to better unpack what was standing between our intentions and our goals.
Goal setting is about definition … tangibility. I’m an existentialist, so “peace of mind” is the end goal for me, but peace of mind can have physical trappings. There are real things you can attain that can spark an intangible state of being. For some, it’s not even about the intangible: they want a boat; or a house; or less work. By aiming at tangible items for our goals, we worked toward those goals. We came up with an easy to grasp approach to accomplishing our goals. Large tasks are split into a series of small steps and inside of those are still smaller steps to take. If you break a big goal into many small tasks, each of them can be simple to accomplish. Building a house is too broad, but getting that nail hammered down is a small and necessary step in the overall mission.
As a programmer, I saw this in programmer speak. This is like object oriented programming: it is object oriented goal setting. In programming terms, you create classes that are used to define objects. Each class articulates a set of rules such as what variables are there and what functions are relevant to just that object. The variables themselves can refer to objects. Objects that follow these rules are created as required. This gives you a boxes-within-boxes approach that allows you go from broad views of what your goal is until you’re down to an atomic level of detail.
Here’s a practical example:
Your goal is a trip to Europe. Break that down. Look at the tasks associated: the money to go, the time to go, paperwork, the logistics of living day-to-day while in Europe, et cetera. Take a variable, like the money to go, and make it an object: sources of income and financing … those are objects inside of the money variable. Raising money is a function of that task. Inside of that function are specific variables like a list of your skills and fund-raising opportunities. The nearly impossible goal of going to Europe can be broken into little contributory tasks and each goal has its own criteria of success.
If you keep going down the programming-your-life approach, this process can get more robust. Put in error handling. For example: the goal for financing could include a term deposit that makes a claw back of the money unlikely. Put in something conditional that says: “If money cannot be saved, then sell that surfboard to pay for the ticket.”
The object-oriented approach is like an engine that has the capacity to build engine parts to further its functioning. When we started out, we didn’t have a goals engine of our own … a means to get through our first goal: discover a means of goal setting. Our outcome was an approach that allowed us to make big goals into small achievements. Then collect those small achievements into a big accomplishment.
Microsoft Office Clip Art Collection
Guest Author Bio
Mike is a Victoria native, sculptor, writer, programmer, all-around geek and social connector. He has been freelance writing since 1984 (with some long gaps of activity): works in a variety of venues from sheer geekdom to mainstream press: print publications, online articles and some ghostwriting. Over the years, Mike has written, shot and edited short films; dabbled in special effects make-up and all manner of sculpture projects.
He started in website design and web development as a freelancer in 1999 after a few years of working for a local company; and he continues to work as a partner at Those DeWolfes Creative.
Blog / Website: http://mike.dewolfe.bc.ca