You are probably familiar with the saying “the glass is half full.” Just like people are either cat people or dog people, I think people are either glass half full or glass half empty people. One means you have a tendency toward seeing the positive and the other means you have a tendency toward seeing the negative.
Well, it turns out that goals are the same way. Goals can be classified as Promotion or Prevention.
Promotion goals are all about what you can achieve. They are about what you’d ideally like to accomplish and how you can maximize your gains. Promotion goals are the glass half full goals. “I’m going to finish writing that novel” is a promotion goal.
Prevention goals, on the other hand, are about safety or obligation. They are the things you feel you ought to do in order to minimize loss and avoid pain. Prevention goals are the glass half empty goals. “I really need to start looking for a job because I heard layoffs may be coming” is a prevention goal.
Understanding the type of goal is helpful because there are different strategies and motivators that you should use depending on which type of goal it is.
There is a concept called Expectancy Value Theory. It says that people are motivated to do something as a function of 1.) how likely they are to be successful (this is the expectancy part), and 2.) how much they think they will benefit (this is the value part).
For promotion goals, the Expectancy Value Theory is generally driven by how likely you think you will be to succeed. Because promotion goals are achievement or accomplishment driven, it makes sense that you are going to give more consideration to your chances of success. When you complete a promotion goal, you feel a rush of success. A promotion goal makes you smile from ear to ear.
For prevention goals, you are on the other end of the Expectancy Value spectrum. Because prevention goals are more about minimizing loss or avoiding pain, you focus a lot less on the expectancy part of the equation. How likely to are to succeed has less impact because the alternative – doing nothing and suffering the expected loss – is the motivation. Whereas promotion goals result in a feeling of accomplishment, prevention goals result in a feeling of relief.
So, take a look at the goals you are currently pursing and think about them with this new filter. Is there something different you might do to accomplish them now that you know which kind of goal they are?
If you want to dive deeper, listen to our episode on Making Sense of Your Goals
Strategy is something that is traditionally left to the C-Suite or other executives. This is a podcast for those who are early in their career or are not interested in leadership positions, so you may think that strategy isn’t important for you to understand. But – you are the CEO of your career, so you do need to understand it. And, one of the things that you should think about is whether or not your company has a strategy that will make it viable in the long run.
What I want to do in this episode is give you another criterion to consider about whether the job you have or are looking at taking in the future is a good fit for you – it is called the inflection point.
The inflection point is a point in the future where the fundamentals of the business are going to change.
Meaning, everything the current business is built on becomes obsolete and a whole new set of rules apply.
A good strategy will
You want to work for a company that gets this.
In addition, you, as an employee, should be able to recognize and accept change that may come if your company is in the middle of executing a strategy to change the fundamentals of the business. Prepare yourself for changes that may come by assessing:
We all have times when we get into a funk – something in our life isn’t where we want it to be – our job, our marriage, or community involvement. When the funk is about your job, we sometimes call it the Sunday Night Blues.
So, how do you get out of the funk? The goal is to become unstuck.
Step 1: Recognize that you are feeling stuck
Getting stuck usually happens little by little, and you don’t always recognize that you are feeling stuck.
Step 2: Focus on the objective of getting unstuck
Tell yourself that getting unstuck is possible. Say it out loud. It helps with your mindset.
Step 3: Figure out what is causing you to be stuck
You may need to dig deep. The reason may not be obvious at first.
Step 4: Take Action
Use your unconscious mind to help you solve the problem.
Don’t wait until you know the answer to start moving in the right direction.
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We all have a list of goals longer than the amount of time we have to be able to accomplish them. This can be overwhelming and even discouraging.
In this episode, we are going to cover 4 tips that can help you make sense of your goals.
Someday Maybe List
A list of all of the ideas that you have but that you can’t get to immediately.
· Keep one list for work and a separate one for the rest of your life. When you change jobs, the one for your work can just be tossed.
· At least once per year, review the list to remove anything that you’ve already accomplished or that isn’t relevant anymore. In addition, determine if there is anything on the Someday/Maybe List that should be moved to your current projects list.
Get Clear About Your Priorities
Create a North Start List. What are the areas of your life that you must fulfill?
· Family obligations
· Work obligations
· Community obligations
· Personal obligations
Every goal you undertake needs to tie back to your North Start List.
Review Episode 1: North Star List
Understand What Type of Goal it is
“Why” Goals: Goals where you need motivation to keep you moving toward your goal
· Longer term
· Future oriented
For example: I want to lose weight so that I have more energy to play with the grandkids.
“What” Goals: Goals that are more concrete, difficult, or complex
· Detail oriented
· Shorter in duration
· Happening in the near future
For example: I am going to eat 3 vegetables today.
Know When to Give Up
Finding the balance between persistence and knowing when to give up is not easy. Here are a couple of questions to ask yourself to help you determine if you’ve reached the point where it may make sense to give up on a goal:
1. Is it a good use of your time? Given the limited amount of we all have, is this something that you should continue to invest your time in?
2. Is it costing you too much? Money, relationships, or some other opportunity cost. When you got into this goal, did you realize how much it would cost you? If you had know, would you have made the same decision to pursue the goal?
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Words matter. The language you use matters. It impacts your mindset. It gives you a definition of yourself that can become limiting.
Have you ever noticed the different ways that waiters introduce themselves to you?
“I’m Rachel, and I’ll be your server tonight.”
“I’m Rachel, and I’ll be taking care of you tonight.”
A subtle difference, but one communicates that my responsibility is to serve you your food and the other communicates that my responsibility is to take care of you – completely.
Have you ever said, or heard someone say ‘I’m bad at math”? What does that tell you? Do they know that it takes 4 quarters to make a dollar? Do they know calculus? For most of us, knowing calculus isn’t important or necessary for our daily lives. So -if you don’t need to know calculus and you don’t know calculus, then why would you say you are bad at math?
Become aware of the words you use. How do they impact your mindset? What do they communicate to others about you? Are they serving you well?
At some point in every career, we reach a point where we are good at what we do, and it doesn’t really challenge us anymore. And, at different points in your career, you may be good at certain things and still learning others.
A lot of people fall into the trap of not actively managing this process. It is important to be conscientious of where you have mastered your role and where you still have room to grow.
Understanding where you are in your overall career growth will help you plan a way forward. You can start by understanding what Todd Henry calls the aspiration gap.
Aspiration Gap: The difference between the work that you want to create and the work that you are capable of creating at this moment.
Look for an area where, if you learned a new skill, you could take your career to the next level. This will help you focus in on objectives that make sense for your career at your particular point in your career.
By thinking about where your skills, interests, and strengths can be improved to take your career to the next level, you are giving your career its own unique flavor. Nobody else is going to do your job exactly the same way you do.
Take stock of your current job and where you want to be. What can you do to move yourself toward your goal?
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It is a natural cycle to want to improve yourself. The question is—when do you reach the point where you’ve stopped learning and you need to become a freshman again?
When you are an expert—you don’t get a day off.
When you are a freshman:
· You can ask questions that an expert wouldn’t ask for fear of looking stupid
· You can take risks that would look like career suicide for an expert
· You can try things and not worry about failure— because for a freshman, it is about learning
· Use the phrase “I’m no expert here...”
· Use the phrase “Let’s try this and see if it works...”
For your current job or area of expertise:
How can you look at it with a fresh set of eyes?
What experiment can you do to see if it improves your job?
Outside of your current job:
What is something you don’t know much about that you could learn more about?
We’ve all had a failure at work. It is inevitable, so the most productive thing you can do is to have a set of tools to draw from when you are faced with the fall-out, which we will outline here:
Look at the failure as a learning opportunity
Although it doesn’t take the failure away, if you can reframe it in your mind, you can more easily move past it.
What did you learn from this failure that you can benefit from in the future?
Look at what behaviors DID succeed
Identifying what behaviors worked within the failure can help point you to areas of strength.
Understanding the areas where you are strong will help reinforce those behaviors in the future.
Don’t feel like you have to be good at everything
Failure may be an indication that you need to move on to something else. Is this area something you really need to succeed at?
Put the failure into perspective
Think about failures from the past. With hindsight, are they as bad as you thought they were at the time?
Rank the failure from 0 to 100 where 100 is nuclear holocaust.
Remember that other people are caught up in their own lives
Worrying about what others think about your failure is usually a waste of time because other people probably don’t even notice what you’ve done.
Those that do are likely close to you. In that case, project the failure onto them. What you your reaction be if they had been the one who failed?
What can you do to create a positive outcome?
Goals are a unique combination of:
Tactics—what do I need to do to accomplish this goal?
Aspiration— what can I accomplish if I put my mind to it?
Faith— I believe that I can accomplish this goal.
Commitment - I’m going to dedicate part of my resources to making this goal happen.
Setting goals require an ability to balance the need to be realistic while also reaching for something you aren’t quite sure how to get to – something that isn’t within your current comfort zone.
Then, once you’ve set that goal – you need to stop focusing on it. Focusing on the goal – on the end state will not propel you from here to there. Instead, you need to start to identify the steps that you are going to take to get you there. What is the next step you can take to move you toward your goal?
There are also some tools that you can use to help you keep on track:
I teach people how to thrive at work. Let's connect on LinkedIn
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