Insights from practitioners in Information Management

Issue 54 – Goal Setting

Following on from last month’s edition, which looked at promotion and whether or not you are ready to accept the position that is on offer, is setting goals that inspire you. Now a new job may or may not inspire you on to achieve more with your life, I hope so, but that is entirely up to you. But every day we make a million tiny decisions, each of which impacts the next set of choices that you face.

Now taking the promotion or not is hardly what I can call a minor decision, but the impact on you and your self-esteem can be huge. Whether you take it or not, or whether you hate it or love the challenge, you may be filled with dread at the thought of taking on the role, unsure that you will be able to cope, unsure of what will really be expected of you, or you may walk into the arena with your head held high, ready and willing to do whatever it takes.

The following goal setting exercise is designed to make you question your current behaviour, and to make you think about what it is you want out of life.

In this issue we will look at:

• What is a goal?
• How do you set goals?
• What items are on your goal list?
• How are you going to achieve those goal items?
• When are you going to achieve them by?
• What are the benefits of achieving the goal items?
• What are your reasons for doing it?
• Who will help you achieve those goals?
• What is stopping you?
• Job Opportunities
• Notes from the Office
• A Thought to ponder

The first point I would like to make is this – 
Goal setting – Is more than just deciding what you want and writing it down.

What is a goal?

A goal is something that you say that you want. But is not something that you can achieve in a day or two – they’re classed as tasks. Now a task can take you towards your goals, but they can just as easily take you away from achieving them. What is the difference? Well a goal has to be both exciting and a little frightening. It has to take you out of your comfort zone into areas you’ve never been to before. Because – and this is the first key – achieving a goal is not just about the end result. But the person you will have to become in order for you to reach them. So when deciding whether or not you have a list of tasks or a list of goals, the first question is to decide whether your goals both excite you and scare you – just a little. But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. The next question has to be – How do you set goals?

How do you set goals?

And more importantly how do you set goals that inspire you? You may or not have set a list of New Year’s Resolutions. If you did, I need you to fish out the list. Does it contain the same set of tired objectives as last year? Or did you manage to cross one or two things off the list from last year.

Most people spend a minute or two deciding on things they want to change in their lives. High on most people’s lists are things like, earn more money, spend less, don’t buy so many shoes, eat less, exercise more, take a decent holiday, pay off the credit card debt. As you can see from this kind of list – it’s hardly inspiring is it? The problem is, most people haven’t been taught that to set goals that inspire, you have to do some real thinking first. And this is called – the do before you die list.

These are the things that you say that you have always wanted to do and see at some time in your life. In this list are those things that form the basis of an inspired goal list. If you haven’t spent time and written one of these before, spend some time over the next couple of days, get out a big piece of paper and start scribbling. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that. On my list is re-learn the times tables (what can I say – we had an art teacher in junior school, we learned how to throw clay rather than learn math), do 100 push ups (up to 40 before stopping), and many different places I want to visit.

Once you have written this list, you might have a 100 things, or you may have 20 – it doesn’t matter how big the list is, so long as it has things on there that inspire you.

What items are on your goal list?

Now you have your list of things you say you want to do or achieve. However before we go on I would like to ask you a couple of questions. Have you looked at every area of your life? Believe me when I say it is no good just working on one area and neglecting the rest. Why? Because one area can be directly affected by another.

Do you have a problem with spending too much money on things that give you pleasure, for example coffee, chocolate, alcohol or cigarettes? Then how are you going to save up for that brand new wardrobe of clothes you say you want? What about that trip to Europe? Do you currently have a credit card debt that you can only just manage to service? Are you overweight because of your reliance on those things that you buy on a daily basis?

Chances are better than good that if you said yes to one area then you also said yes to most of the other areas too.

So when dealing with goal setting, you have to consider everything that will be affected by how you currently act and react, and only when you have decided those factors can you decide whether or not you are willing to take the next steps and work out how you are going to achieve those things.

How are you going to achieve those goal items?

This is usually where most people get stuck, they know what they think they want, but they don’t think they know all the answers…which stops a lot of people from beginning the process. And their reliance on small daily pleasures can add up to a major problem at the end of the year. Don’t believe me? Then consider that you say you would like to save some money to go on a trip to Europe – but you never seem to have enough money to get through to the next pay day. Well here’s the thing. What are you buying on a daily basis that is stopping you from saving money? Do you buy a cup of coffee on the way in to work? Multiply that by the number of days in a working week for you, and then multiply that by an average working year…. OK I’ll do some math for you.

Average cup of coffee price $3.50 x 5 days x 48 weeks in a year = $840.00 (I cheated and used a calculator) – that’s half way to a ticket to Europe.

So, I was being serious when I said those tiny decisions on a daily basis can and do add up to major influences in your life.

When are you going to achieve it by?

Most people have a vague, oh I’ll get it done by so and so…. when it comes to goal setting and goal achieving.

Let me put it this way, a goal is just a dream without a proper time limit on it. But how do you set a time limit. Well it depends on the goal.

• Painting the house – An average size room can be stripped of furniture, cleaned, patched and painted in a weekend. Average of two days. If you only have the weekends – then each room will take you a weekend….4 bedrooms = 4 weekends….or 8 days.
• Planning and saving for a trip to Europe – will depend on your current level of debt and your ability to save. If you spend more than you currently earn, then you won’t achieve the goal at all. The first issue with dealing with this goal isn’t just about your lack of ability to save money, rather your ability to stop spending lots of money a few dollars at a time. Work that one out and you can save up for anything.
• Weight loss – half a kilo to a kilo a week is do-able…any more and you run the risk of putting the weight back on as soon as you stop restricting your calorie intake. So work out how much weight you need to lose and you have the number of weeks it is likely to take you. 10 kilos = 10-20 weeks
• Writing a book – if you are working, then a thousand words a day is a good target, depending on how fast you write (or type) – an average novel starts at about 100,000 words – therefore a hundred days or 3 and a bit months (to get the first draft)
What are the benefits of achieving the goal items?

One of the major keys to goal achievement is the benefits you will gain from doing it. Not just reaching the goal – but the kind of person you will need to become in order to achieve it. Benefits are essential. If you don’t know why you want something then you won’t be motivated to take the steps that you need to take. Bryce Courtenay said it best when he said one of the things you need when writing a book is “bum glue”. You might have the best ideas in the whole world, but unless you are willing to spend a considerable amount of time in front of a computer or at a desk with a pen and paper, then you are not going to get the book written are you? So what are the benefits that you think you will get from achieving the goal item?

• Writing a book – you may get international or national recognition, and more money. You may simply have the satisfaction that you did it…
• Losing weight – may mean – better health, a whole new wardrobe, much better self-esteem and an improved bank balance.
• Travelling to Europe – you’ve managed to save the money, you have seen the land of your forefathers, everyone told you that you couldn’t possibly do it and you proved them wrong.
• The house will sell for more money, which means you’ll be able to move to the area that you want to live in.
What are your reasons for doing it?

Whilst benefits are a good way to motivate you, the best motivational tool you can use to achieve your goals are the reasons you have these items on your goal list in the first place. Why you want to achieve something can take you towards your goal. You can see it, you can feel it and you know why you want it. Imagine that you had to succeed with the goal – or someone close to you was going to die. How motivated would you be to get going on the goals on your list? I suppose it depends on how much you like the person I suppose, but if you really want something, you will move heaven and earth in order to achieve it.

So work out your reasons, and you will have all the motivation you need to get moving.

Renovating the house:
• The house is a pigsty and needs a complete overhaul;
• We’ve just moved in and we want to make it look like it belongs to us
• It’s been years since these walls last saw a coat of paint – it’s time !!
• That style of decoration went out 30 years ago (don’t worry – wait a few more years and it will be back in again)
Weight loss:
• I have an unhealthy BMI and the doctor told me to lose weight or die
• I do not look very nice without clothes on !!
• I don’t look much better with clothes on !!!!!!!!!
• I hide behind frumpy clothes to try and disguise the fact that I am fat and unhealthy
• I don’t have any energy
Who will help you achieve your goal?

Every one needs help, and those people who say they don’t are usually hiding behind the lies so they can find all sorts of excuse not to do something. The richest, most powerful people in the world have armies of advisors to help them. Sports people have coaches and personal trainers to help them improve their game. Why should we be any different?

Believe me when I say, you will struggle to do everything you need to do by yourself. So enlist the people who can take your dreams forward:

• An author needs an editor and a publisher. Even if you decide to self-publish your work, you still need to get someone else to read it to make sure you haven’t written drivel
• You may need encouragement to reach your new weight – in which case a personal trainer can be invaluable, or a weight loss consultant, a nutritionist, your partner and your kids can all help you to keep to the straight and narrow and encourage you not to buy and eat “bad” things.
What is stopping you?

Your belief in yourself may be your biggest stumbling block. If you don’t believe you can do it, you may struggle to achieve anything.

• Lack of motivation is the other big factor – if you don’t believe in your goals, if they don’t inspire you to get started on them, then you will find all the excuses in the world not to get started.
So, when you are working out your goal plan, ask yourself the questions:

• What do you want?
• How are you going to get it?
• When are you going to achieve it by?
• What are the proposed benefits of getting it?
• What are your reasons?
• Who will help you?
• What is currently stopping you?
Goal setting isn’t hard – that is the first question in the above list….goal achievement is easier once you have the answers to the remaining questions worked out.

This was first published by Lorraine on in 2007.

News from the Office

Records Management Traineeships

In the January edition of the Registrant Resources of Information Overload we announced a brand new initiative to begin to address the shortfall in skilled records management personnel. The IEA records management traineeships program is currently being worked out, and as we find out more information, we will of course let you know.

What we can tell you is that we have invited a number of Local Councils to a breakfast meeting so that we can gain interest from those who would like an opportunity to participate in the initiative. At this stage we are looking for 3 or 4 organisations who will be willing to participate in the scheme and once we know who, we will be able to tell you when.

A Thought to Ponder
“Your profession is not what brings home your pay check. Your profession is what you were put on earth to do with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling”
Vincent Van Gogh