Are our goals realistic?

My job involves a lot of travel. Over the last eight weeks, I’ve spent just seven nights at home, but somehow still managed to fit in a family holiday in Cyprus. It was wonderful to spend some quality time with my wife and children and the weather was a huge improvement on our cold wet spring. The holiday also gave me the opportunity to indulge in some people-watching, something I don’t usually get the chance to do.

It was while watching my son, first trying to stand on his sister’s shoulders in the pool and then progressing to increasingly more and more acrobatic poses, that I noticed how great kids are at setting themselves goals. A determined girl was launching herself further and further into the pool with every jump, two brothers were challenging each other to swim the length of the pool underwater, while a small boy was continuously beating his own record for bouncing a ball on his bat

Two things struck me. The first was how these children refused to be defeated. If they failed at whatever activity they were engaged in, they tried and tried again, experimenting with new strategies and techniques. They learnt from their mistakes, adapted and improved. The second was how small and gradual their goals were – just one more metre or one more bounce. They didn’t set themselves huge unachievable goals like going from being a non-swimmer to swimming 20 meters in the first going.

Children are very used to having small achievable goals set for them – like moving from level 5A to 6C in Maths, saving up half the money for a new Xbox game or keeping their room tidy for a week (although we don’t much success with this one in our house!). But from my experience, adults seem to be incredibly bad at setting goals for themselves – and we hate them too! That’s why most New Year’s resolutions are forgotten by the 3rd of January and we take forever to give up smoking or drinking, even when our doctors tell us it’s killing us.

Watching the children around the pool on holiday made me reflect on my own goals and how realistic they are. It also spurred me into action towards a achieving them – there’s one in particular I know my wife will be pleased about! As a company, we will also be reviewing our goals, to ensure that the steps on the way to achieving our overall goals are small and manageable. Of course it will be tough, but slow and steady wins the race!

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