Last time we took a brief look at the evidence in favour of goal-setting and generally found it rather unconvincing. In this, the second of three posts about goals, we consider some of their drawbacks…
Perhaps the most obvious issue with goals, whether corporate or individual, is that they’re generally as long as a piece of string – arbitrary. We come up with (SMART) goals and make them our be all and end all, but then to treat them as such over an extended period still largely requires an act of faith.
In true Micawber fashion, reaching our goals may result in happiness and missing them in misery, yet in reality the world continues to turn regardless.
According to a much-quoted saying, if you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you get there. But as Covey and others have pointed out, knowing where you want to go doesn’t necessarily say much about the best way to get there. Becoming overly focused on a distant prize may, however, be one sure way to trip over the rock right in front of you. Plus it restricts your ability to spot other, even better prizes along the way.
In our view, the main issue with goals as motivators is that they’re really a very blunt tool that take no account of how we respond to them as individuals. As such, they speak only to the symptoms of procrastination rather than to their cause.
In Part 3 of this commentary, we’ll consider other, more effective approaches to motivation building – so make it your goal to watch out for that!