Don't Make Goals, Make Options

Don’t Make Goals… Make Room and Make Options

Don’t bother making goals. Just get rid of waste and create options. And let the good things happen.

I read 70 books this year.

Sometimes people ask me, “How can you read so much?”

Well, one thing I learned is I don’t set myself a target!

In 2012 I read 50 books. But at the end of 2012 I did not have a goal to “read at least 50 books next year”. Because, how can I know 50 is still a good number? The year 2013 was for me quite different from 2012. I could have read more than 50, I could have read less than 50. There was no way for me to predict. So why bother?

Every systems thinker knows that targets lead to sub-optimization.

When you set yourself a target, either of two things happen:

  • You aim too high and of course you will do your best to achieve your goal, but you will sacrifice important things. And only later you will realize the damage you’ve done to the things you’ve neglected. We call that the Law of Unintended Consequences.
  • You aim too low and of course you will reach your goal. Easily! And what then? Mission accomplished? Will you spend the rest of the available time watching “X-Factor”?

The main reason people make goals is because it helps them to focus, and it helps to get rid of distractions.

Well, shouldn’t that be your goal as a creative networker?

I focus on removing waste: I don’t watch TV. I don’t drink in bars. And I rarely attend parties. I love spending quality time with friends, but only on my terms.

I focus on making options: I have both paper books and e-books. I have a full backlog ready for reading. And I always bring reading material, wherever I go.

Who needs targets when your days have room and options?

This blog will be enjoying a well-deserved vacation until early January. I wish you a wonderful X-Mas and a Happy 2014! And don’t bother making targets. Just get rid of the waste and create possibilities. And let the good things happen.

Innovation leadership, change practices, and management are always evolving.
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  • Luis Goncalves

    Hi Jurgen, good post I like this part: “Every systems thinker knows that targets lead to sub-optimization.”. On other side I understood for example that John Seddon says that Goals are Ok if they are created thinking in the full system(which usually never happens). Do you have any opinion on this?

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