Sunday, October 11, 2009

Queen of the goals

I am a goal setting Queen. After more than a decade of the corporate life packed with "fun-filled', "interactive", "team-building" workshops that have used an abattoir's worth of butcher paper that by the end of the day was covered in colourful scrawls and arrows and have helped to put 3M post-it notes on the map (literally - I used to work for Lonely Planet), I am a genius at writing SMART* goals.

Creating goals has always involved a new notebook. Not your common 29-cent 8mm feint-lined A5 exercise book because GOALS deserve so much more than that. Something like this. Or my current favourite that isn't exactly stylish in the traditional sense - a mini flip notebook with the Virgin Mary, halo aglow, on the cover. Look, I need all the help I can get.

My home is filled with dozens and dozens of such provocative and inspirational notebooks containing one or two pages of goals and lists such as:
• things to do on the weekend;
• things to make on the weekend;
• things to finish on the weekend;
• my five-year plan;
• my 10-year plan;
• my 12-month plan;
• april plan;
• to do Christmas break 2008-9;
• start a blog;
• goal to lose 10kg;
• goal to lose 5kg...

You get the idea, no doubt.

It isn't that I'm a gonna. I do plenty. I live by the motto "idle hands are the devil's playthings". As well as "idle hands lead to boredom and premenstrual tensions with my significant other" or "idle hands make TV very very boring" and finally "idle hands make snacking far easier". I'm constantly stitching, knitting, crocheting, writing, planning, planning, planning. The problem is that I sometimes spend so long planning that there's barely enough time for doing and I get sidetracked doing things that are perfectly fine, but not what I intended because I get so bored from all of the planning and over-analysing that I just don't feel any joy at the mere thought of what I was planning in the first place. But that's not to say that goal-setting is evil. But poor goal-setting definitely is.

This year, 2009, has been the Year of the Coach for me. I've been studying life coaching, started listening to a tonne of podcasts about creating life and business and even enlisted a couple of coaches for myself.

And I found

Steve is a no nonsense entrepreneur and personal-development "preacher". He won't be to everyone's taste and, to be honest, his ideas freak me a little but he has an alluring approach to life and how to start your own business. He espouses the notion that the best way to start a business is to quit your job and just go for it without a plan, just figure it out as you make mistakes. I'm not quite down with the school of hard knocks, having been knocked about before but I do like Steve's approach to life. So along with my studies (7 weeks to go) I've decided to take a new course of action in my life.

Firstly, I want to start my own business so that I can quit my job sooner rather than later. And as Steve says, if you want to start your own business, just start it right now. You don't need a logo, a flashy website or business cards right away. The first thing to do is create value. What do you know about that will be of value to others? Right now, I know three things already:
  1. I like to tell people what to do;
  2. I like making things;
  3. I like to look at pretty things that other people have made an telling people about them.
Number two is easy - make things (remember, idle hands...) as is number three.

Number one is the reason why I'm studying life coaching - to harness my skill and use it for good instead of evil. Coaching is far from telling people what to do. Coaching is helping people uncover their value and how to plan the (very) real steps around bringing that value to the surface so that others can bask in it with you. Ready, fire, aim, as Steve Pavlina suggests. We mostly live by a slightly different ethos - Ready, aim, fire. The problem with that is that we spend so long aiming that by the time we're ready to fire, the target is long gone. Remember what I was saying about spending so long planning that I end up over analysing the idea to death and get sick of it? Of course, if you're planning to sink a few million into an idea, or even a few thousand, you might want to spend more time aiming but that's not what I'm about. As a sole proprietor whose only expense is an internet service provider then the approach - Ready, Fire, Aim - works because the more time I spend on the right masthead and the perfect widgets then the less time I'm spending on creating value.

So today, I decided to grab the first notebook I could find, which happened to be a 29-cent 8mm feint-ruled A5 exercise book, in my husband's draw in the study, tore out the first few pages that already had some scribble on them, and walked the dogs to the local coffee shop for breakfast. I even forgot a pen and had to use a mini pen that I have dangling from my keys. Hardly comfortable, hardly stylish but definitely able to do the job.

And this is the result of my first post. Because I AM great at setting goals, and now I'm even better at working towards them. After all, I am a coach on a never-ending road towards discovery through making.

*S - Specific
 M - Measurable A - Achievable R - Realistic T - Tangible or Time focused

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