Setting Goals May Be More Important Than You Think
My Granny recently celebrated her 96th birthday. She lives very far away from me, in a small town in Ontario, Canada, where she is well cared for by the wonderful staff of an assisted living home.
Her life is busy, but on her birthday she always makes time to chat.
This year, we had a long conversation with many questions about my work—my new team and Creation’s business—and life in general. She is always curious, eager to learn, and happy to hear about what the ’young folks’ are into these days.
As for her, well, when we spoke, she had just finished preparing the facility flower beds for planting, helped identify a fungus that only grows in poor soil, and is excitedly organizing a new music therapy program. And did I mention she regularly entertains her fellow residents by playing piano?
After listening to her talk about her busy schedule and many commitments, I was struck by how much we are alike. It’s not just our love of math, financial markets and getting into trouble.
We are alike because we both see goals as an important part of life.
Before our call I’d heard about a study published by Rush University Medical Center that found fewer ‘plaques and tangles’ in the brains of those with purpose in life – ‘plaques and tangles’ are thought to be a primary cause of dementia, a growing concern in today’s society.
We’ve heard for years that staying active and engaged can increase your life expectancy. Can combatting dementia be as simple as setting goals? That certainly seems the case for Granny. Her energy is remarkable and her ‘marbles’ seem fully intact (so far, she reminds me!)
Setting goals is an art as much as a science.
While we have learned that goals must be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely), they also must engage and challenge in a way that our daily work may not.
Setting goals for oneself should be straightforward if not easy: complete a course, run 20km per week or build a new Excel model.
Goal setting is best when it is collaborative; goal achievement comes only with the support—and sometimes the pressure—of a team.
As a new Leader at Creation, I have started slowly in setting goals with my team. A slow start allows me the opportunity to observe existing practices and identify what works well, and where we can improve. We are starting modestly – but with impact – by addressing our approach to customer service and quote process efficiency.
Our next step – which I am really looking forward to – is identifying our new longer-term strategy and building a set of goals that will help keep us on track. Our team is “SMART” and I am confident that the right goals will provide a great foundation for us to best support Creation.
Shout Out to Granny
As for Granny, I could not be happier to have her in my life. Her energy, tenacity and honesty have always inspired me. She has been a lifelong teacher and has (hopefully!) helped make me a better leader, teammate and person.
How have the goals you’ve set for yourself influenced your life? How have other people inspired you to follow through?