Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stop setting goals!!

I was positive I had this book review on my blog somewhere, but with 10 blogs, you do lose track. So here it is again. It is about a book I read right after I retired, that I sure could have used earlier, both in my family life and career. I'm reposting here, because I've got more than a few readers who need to sort through the difference between problem solving and goal setting.

The book I'd been waiting for my whole life I didn't read until the first official day of my retirement (Oct. 1, 2000). Its title grabbed me and I knew it was written for me: "STOP SETTING GOALS" by Bob Biehl (Nashville: Moorings, 1995).

The premise is that some people are energized by achieving goals they have set, and others (a higher percentage) are energized by identifying and solving problems. And it isn't semantics. To ask problem solvers to set goals puts knots in their stomachs and interferes with their natural gifts. To ask goal setters to work on a problem puts them in a foul mood because they think "negative" when they hear "problem."

Problem solvers see goal setters as sort of pie-in-the sky, never-finish-anything types, and goal setters see problem solvers as negative nay-sayers. Bigotry, in both directions.

I'm willing to bet that most librarians are problem solvers and that's why they chose the field. I used to be in Slavic Studies. In my own mind, I thought the Soviet Union collapsed from pathologically terminal five year plans--too much goal setting and not enough problem solving.

Biehl poses an interesting question that works for both groups. "What three things can we do in the next 90 days to make a 50% difference (by the end of this year, by the end of the decade, by the end of my life). It makes no difference if you say, "what three goals can we reach" or "what three problems can we solve," because either personality can get a handle on this question.

I was challenged during my last year at work to stop using the word "problem" and replace it with "challenge" or "opportunity." It was a good time to retire. It took away all motivation for showing up at work for a darn good problem solver.

1 comment:

Randy Kirk said...

This post reminds me of something of an epiphany I had last week. My grown daughter and I were talking about going to an air show. I have wanted to go to one for years, but never set it up. I also mentioned to her that I really wanted to go to an organ concert at the new Disney Concert Hall here in L.A.

Long story short. She bought tickets to Disney for the two of us as my birthday present. And my whole family is going to an air show this weekend.

Moral of the story. We old folks need to set out some things we wish to do. Call them goals. Call them adventures. But write them down and start planning. Hmmm. Learn to Salsa . . . .