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The Trouble with Tribbles, The Trouble with Goals

by Ouida on March 30, 2010


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Tribbles are cute, fuzzy creatures as are goals in the sense that they create the warm fuzzies when you set one.

Tribbles reproduce like bunny rabbits as do goals.  Set one goal and pretty soon you are  drowning in a sea of goals unsure which one to tackle next.

Tribbles produce a sense of calm when you hold one and the initial pursuit of a goal produces the senses of calm and elation.

Tribbles are the mortal enemies of Klingons.  Goals…..okay that is where the analogy ends.

Tribbles tell a tale about balance.  Out of control and without natural predators on a starship they invade and consume the wheat intended to address a planet-wide food crisis.  Goals can do the same thing.  We set goals for everything.  Want to be wealthy set a goal.  Want to get married, set a goal.  Want to learn a language, set a goal.  Want to travel, have better teeth, a better body, get better grades, pass a test, almost anything you can think of, set a goal, for goal setting is the first step to actualization.  Or is it? Common mythology is that by just setting a goal, you will be magnetized to its achievement. But anyone who has ever set a goal and had their target date whiz by knows better.  Bazerman, et al, in their controversial paper, Goals Gone Wild:  The Systematic Side Effects of Over prescribing Goal Setting argue that goal setting  can be quite detrimental in a corporate setting. They conclude:  “rather than being offered as an ‘over the counter’ salve for boosting performance, goal setting should be prescribed selectively, presented with a warning label and closely monitored.”

I have found that having no more than two or three goals at a time, whose achievement I have absolute control over are the appropriate goals for me to set.  I have also found when considering a goal, I have to decide whether or not I want to pay the price to achieve that goal.  All goal achievement requires time, yet setting aside the time to achieve a goal may seem like an impossible task.  In fact I have found that when I ask most folks how much time they plan to devote to achieving their goal, I generally get a blank stare.  Setting a goal to become wealthy means deciding to develop certain disciplines to attain that goal, like learning to save, learning to live on less than you earn, developing a new skill, becoming financially literate.  Setting a goal to learn a language may mean taking a class, actually attending the classes and studying the material once you’ve signed on for the course, taking a home study course, traveling to the country where the language is spoken primarily or staying at home and putting yourself in socially uncomfortable circumstances where your desired language in only spoken.  Goal achievement also requires having a set of priorities.  Do you really want goal x or would you rather be doing something else.

Goals used strategically can spur achievement, but used unwisely, they like Tribbles can proliferate and become abundant evidence of one’s failures.

Please comment.  What are your thoughts about goals?

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