Fear of Setting Targets!

June 28, 2011Vincent Byrne

This week’s article was inspired by a conversation I had with my son, Niall. He was studying for the Junior Cert at the time, and as I am sure we all remember, it is really challenging and somewhat daunting for kids at that age, facing their first ‘big’ exam.

Anyway, in my efforts to avoid creating the ‘concerned parent’ situation and telling him what to do, I suggested to him to write down the grades he wanted to get in each subject. The reason being, I explained, that it would create a target, a clear reason for all the study he is doing and it would be better to have a clear destination set out for this journey he is on.

We normally chat about, what my teenage children see as my ‘weird and wonderful’ ideas, but this time his response was particularly interesting. He said, ‘but what happens if I don’t get the results that I write down – I will be disappointed, and so will you and Mum’.

I explained that by setting a target, even if you fall short of it, there was no basis for being disappointed and in fact, it was far better to aim for specific results rather than just study and sit the exam without any expectation. In fact, I said, the results of people who set targets and write them down, prove conclusively, time after time, that they are more successful than those who don’t.

This brief interaction reminded me of conversations that I have had with alot of business owners about targets and goals. Their response was quite similar to Niall’s, the fact is, we don’t like to set targets in case we might fail!

So now, probably to humour me, Niall has ‘mocked’ up a version of his Junior Cert Report, duly completed with his name and grades on it, which he keeps in view of his study desk.

Perhaps you should create the equivalent for your business, to remind yourself of why you are showing up everyday and what you want to achieve by being the entrepreneur and business owner that you are.

The postscript to the Junior Cert story is that he did great and after finishing his ‘laidback’ transition year, I am now annoying him about setting and writing down his targets for the Leaving Cert!

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