I cheerfully said to the wife this morning “maybe we should set some goals for the year ahead”. After having narrowly avoided a flying saucepan, we then explored our general level of exhaustion, and agreed that our main goal for the year is to have fewer goals.
The trouble with goals, in my opinion, is that they do generate an awful lot of doing. Doing brings more doing (and more stuff as a by-product). Yes, I know there’s all that research about graduates who write down their goals earning more money in later years. But so what? Does it mean they contributed more than the ones who didn’t write down their goals? And does it make them any better people?
By contrast not setting any goals allows you to … just practice being a more pleasant person. That seems a pretty good goal in itself and a lot more relaxing than all those more difficult goals. As someone who loves a bit of peace and quiet it sounds a lot better to me.
But what would not setting any goals look like in a business? Businesses always seem to have goals or milestones or objectives or some such thing. Financial goals, people goals, quality goals … and so on.
If your business didn’t have any goals … could it just practice being a more pleasant business? What would that involve? And would that be a good strategy in these recessionary times?
Well, it might mean you could:
- Slow down a bit and listen a bit more – to customers, suppliers,and the team.
- Ensure the team speak quietly and respectfully with customers, suppliers, and each other.
- Be respectful of everyone – even the government – and start by assuming everyone is trying to help not hinder.
- Tell the truth more often (in all your marketing material and all your interactions).
- Cultivate good operational habits (and get rid of any bad ones).
- Change your habits every now and then.
- Honour all agreements and always be fair (even if you have to lose people).
- Keep learning.
- Do your bit to minimise your company’s impact on the planet.
- Tidy up around the place – including your finances.
I don’t know whether this strategy will work particularly well in recessionary times. But I do think it’s a good strategy at any time. It’ll make you friends, repair and strengthen relationships, and keep you out of trouble.
Sounds good to me.
Here’s wishing you a successful 2009.
PS I nicked some of the ideas for this list from the Pleasant Person Act in Richard Carson’s excellent Taming Your Gremlin.