Short, Long term goals and other such animals!

“the weather is a little hot today huh?”

“Yes, it’s not so much the heat, but the humidity that I mind!”

That my friend is a conversation I bet you have had when faced with a stranger. Great small talk topic – the weather is.

But in the new, all air-conditioned environment, its a little tough to bring this one up sometimes. So here’s an alternate that works just as well:

You: “Emerging technology is bringing business and personal life together right?”

He: “Yes, but consider the bb….and in strong contradistinction worklife…

and you are off again.

I bring this up today because after a long time, I was just trying to get some goals put in and I can state with complete confidence that any statement about personal and business life being similar is absolutely untrue – at least in terms of goal setting!

For instance take Business goal – we tend to go conservative short term and aggressive long term. Meaning you say I’ll do 5% growth this year, another 6% the year after and 450% in the third year – a process which will ensure that my current corner tea shop will grow to become Tiffany’s primary competitor in 3 years! Of course, there’s always a hidden hope shared by us and CIOs who do 3 and 5 year plans (that at the end of the three years, at best people wouldn’t remember our promises and at worst we would have moved on and it would be another person’s problem)!

Sadly, our managers (and the CEOs and the shareholders too) are clever when it comes to reviewing our goals and scribble “good try, but try again” in the margin relentlessly.

On the other hand, we seem to do the exact opposite w.r.t personal goals. Lets say, you want to lose weight. Here’s what you are likely to pen down – starting tomorrow (just check your new year resolutions if you don’t believe me!):

– wake up at 4 am, 4 kilometers (or miles) run
– work out for 1 hr
– breakfast of grape fruit/ oranges whatever
– no tea/ no coffee
– yoga for 1 hour
– lunch of salads
– remember: no chocolates
– light supper
– 30 minutes light workout (now come on!)
– bed at 8 pm
– no nicotine/… (fill in the blanks with anything that looks desirable – turns out that anything nice turns out bad for health right!)

Within a week you will discover that while this may work for Carl Lewis or Roger Federer, it certainly wouldn’t do for you.

And at the same time, if someone had asked you what you would be at the end of 3 or 5 years of such a routine, you would probably say something like “I’d be very fit” but not in your wildest dreams would you probably consider that you would be competing against a champion athlete.

Like I said very aggressive in the short term and not so much in the long term.

This also seems to be true for desires – I recall reading some great book about this. If someone were to ask you what you would like to own after 40 years, you would probably go “a ferrari, a lear jet, a bungalow in Bahamas, a private beach” and so on – while in truth at the end of that time even if had those things, you probably would prefer a more relaxed set of toys (at best if you had these, your children or grandchildren would appreciate them more than you!!). We tend to think linearly about the future (more of what we want today is what we consider desirable as opposed to imagining stuff appropriate for that future period !).

Thats quite some thinking for one day – so while I go in search of some good tea, maybe you want to draft some goals for the future?

Leave a Reply