Building the pathway to success

At the end of last year, the New Year was a shining light for what 2020 was going to be – both personally and professionally. Call it a New Year resolution or, if you resent that term like me, (mostly because historically achievement rates have not been great), a goal, objective, or it remains nameless and is a picture in your mind of what will change.

Realistically it’s from when we start thinking about it, to when the New Year starts – the timeframe is really only about 3-5 weeks. With the start of longer days, summer and/or Christmas happiness, the outlook for the next year seems so positive and so achievable.

Towards the end of February, we still think the New Year is ahead of us when we review progress, not realising it is nearly 20% in. March hits and we start thinking okay, let’s go! By now life has settled in back to normal, summer is over, Christmas is over, kids are back at school and into their routines, and the days are starting to get cooler and darker. Panic sets in… I set my objectives and was determined to get there… Why are things not changing?!

Setting an objective or goal can be compared to aiming for the top of a mountain. If you set out to climb to the summit, you’ll need equipment and training as a minimum. Your fitness level dictates how fast you progress towards your goal. Obviously, the steps you take to improve your fitness impact your fitness level. These steps require investment in research and time. Finding this time requires planning around your other commitments, and so it goes on. The reasons we fail in reaching the summit of that mountain lies somewhere in the breakdown of what is required in a holistic sense to get to the top of that mountain.

Reaching a goal or solving a problem requires breaking down the objectives into many little ones, and putting in place action plans around the broken down components. It may involve timeframes around the components, and contingency plans if something isn’t working (i.e. bringing in a personal trainer or a trusted advisor).

Both an objective and solving a problem require diagnosis. In the case of an objective it would be what is required, and an analysis of where you are along that continuum. For solving a problem, all the symptoms will need to be identified, and thought given to the root causes.

When faced with symptoms we can – as a default setting – look to clear the symptoms which often results in short term success. If you have a headache, you take Panadol and the symptom will disappear. If the headaches become chronic, and we keep taking Panadol, it’ll eventually stop working as it is likely the root cause of the headaches are not being addressed (could be dehydration, stress, posture, eyesight issues, etc.).

If this is applied to a workplace scenario, where staff morale is low, an example of addressing the symptoms might be to do some team building or have more regular social events. However, if the underlying cause of low morale is lack of communication, lack of recognition or ineffective/toxic management, this will at best be a short term fix.

When morale does not improve, despite the team building/social structure action, often the default conclusion is blame (i.e. there is something wrong with the staff – you are trying to fix things, but they are not on board). Staff morale is not the problem, it’s the symptom. You need to break down the symptoms to identify the root cause, revealing the real problem/s.

This process of breaking down goals or problems may seem overwhelming; however it is worth doing as we will either;

  • Be more successful at achieving our goals,
  • Reset our goals or expectations of ourselves,
  • Or the reasons why we may fail will become clearer.

It is not too late to review resolutions, objectives, or goals you have set to ensure these have been broken down into what is required to achieve them and that the correct underlying causes of any problems we wish to solve have been identified.

Let’s revert to our childhood curiosity and keep asking why, keep learning and keep moving forward. I wish you all success in 2020 in your progress towards your goals be they personal, professional or for your businesses. We at GS are here if we can help in any way with this progress.

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