Thursday, 8 May 2008

work/life fusion: goals

Following the dictionary treatment for values and talents, today is the turn of goals. To that end, three definitions for the word 'goal' are on offer below. They are of course very similar but at the same time the subtle differences in the way they are expressed led me to include them all.

: t
he purpose toward which an endeavour is directed; an objective (

goal: a result one is attempting to achieve (

goal: an aim or purpose (Cambridge Online Dictionary)

Expanding on the above, in the context of work/life fusion a good initial analogy for goals is thinking of them as milestones or signposts that signal our career journey is on the right path. Traditional forms of career planning tend to use goals as headline objectives. Instead of looking long into the future and gearing an entire effort around achieving a distant goal, work/life fusion uses goals to identify, test and support a career direction, ensuring its relevance and ability to deliver the satisfaction and success that we define for ourselves.

As a result, our goals are motivational but it is critical to work/life fusion that they are also guided by what motivates us as individuals. Using an example to illustrate, imagine that you have a career as a highly successful finance or marketing professional. You are excelling in your field but an aspiration you have held throughout your career to become a CEO or MD leaves you with a nagging doubt that your career to date has been a failure.

Rather than allow this to continue, you (as our highly successful FD or CMO), have the opportunity to explore the underlying motivations that have helped your success. The results of this type of analysis can often uncover a very different set of factors at work than your headline goal suggests.

Although aspiring to the CEO's post has been the ultimate measure of success for our hypothetical FD or CMO, a closer look might reveal that she (or he) is actually motivated to a greater degree by the intricacies of consumer/brand relationships or marshalling profitable operations across a global organisation. In other words, wanting to become a CEO is more an acquired vision of career success than a goal offering genuine satisfaction. The point to return to in the work/life fusion context is that to deliver personal success you have to be sure that underlying motivations are supporting your goals.

Before getting into this post, I had assumed that goals would be simple to clarify but there is more resident here than a first look would reveal. This is perhaps one reason why traditional career planning can make life difficult. Far off goals are simple to identify but the process of achieving them is often left tantalisingly vague. My hope is that this definition of goals separates itself from the traditional view. Goals according to work/life fusion are practical, adaptable milestones for each individual career and they are directly linked to individual motivation.

In the hypothetical example of our FD and CMO, there may be the impression that work/life fusion seeks to limit ambition or reduce goals only to things that are readily attainable. In reality, work/life fusion seeks to clarify our goals and in doing so bring personal success into focus. Goals that also emphasise what can be done now can still aim for the top but they do it incrementally and offer a means of regular review, as well as the most accurate definition of personal success to illuminate the way forward.

(For a similarly progressive take on goals and objectifying personal success, the discussions on are an engaging read, as it the book itself).

No comments:

Post a Comment