Goals vs. Objectives – Who is Really In Control?

“No battle plan survives contact with the enemy.” ~Helmuth von Moltke

I am highly motivated by progress and will often get frustrated when I feel like I am spinning my wheels in a task. This probably explains my penchant for lists. I know that I’m not the only one who gets a sense of satisfaction by drawing a bold stroke through a particularly challenging line item. However, I have found that it is all too easy to focus on the list itself and forget that it exists to serve my objectives. Recently, I’ve put a lot of thought and effort into living a purposeful life, driving towards and realizing my objectives to the best of my abilities. Through trial and error, I have found that the key to effective progress is self-aware honesty, maintaining a life balance, and having the courage to change course when results do not line up with what was intended when I set my goals.

The first step to living deliberately is to determine what you truly want out of life. There are countless voices in the world, some benevolent and others selfish, that seek to guide our desires. Many people never look past what society, advertising agencies and our loved ones tell us we want. If they are happy that way, all the better for them. It takes work to quiet all the voices and achieve the self-awareness necessary to decide what you really want free from the influence of others.

Once your objectives are set, it takes practice to be able to manage all the distractions and necessities that the world demands of us. Though there are a thousand obligations competing for our time and attention, many things that we view as “essential” can actually be minimized or eliminated entirely. It is a matter of understanding one’s priorities. Once you achieve the self-awareness to determine your life’s objectives, sorting the essential from the non-essential becomes much easier.

Finally, I have found it necessary to be proactive in evaluating and adjusting my goals. Though it is easy to simply stay the course until things start to fall apart, it is a much less effective strategy than taking time periodically to honestly evaluate the results of my efforts. If a course of action isn’t working, isn’t supporting my objectives, there is nothing holding me to them. Try to make a change and see what effects come. I look at it like sailing by the stars. Having a heading does no good if you don’t look up every so often.

I started out my blogging year with the Fictorians by describing the system we use to set annual goals at work. Though I stand by the idea that goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time bound), I have come to realize that they need to be adaptable as well. Action is not progress unless my objectives are being achieved. Therefore, goals should be designed and maintained to support objectives, not the other way around.

About Nathan Barra

Though Nathan Barra is an engineer by profession, training and temperament, he is a storyteller by nature and at heart. Fascinated with the byplay of magic and technology, Nathan is drawn to urban fantasy and soft science fiction in both his reading and writing, though he has been known to wander off into other genres for “funzies.” He is an active blogger and posts twice weekly at NathanBarra.com. Nathan is always up for a good conversation, so please drop him a line through his contact page, or write on his Facebook wall (www.facebook.com/WriterNathanBarra).

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