Monday, December 31, 2012

Goal Setting: Step One


This is the beginning of a short series of posts about goal setting, it describes the process that about 10 of the men in my spiritual family went through to set some really meaningful goals for the coming months and years. That retreat was about 2 years ago. 10 men cooped up in a 3 room cabin in the woods, in upstate New York, in the depth of winter. It was a very intense weekend of focused work (a few of us even fasted), and it was a critical point in my life that kicked off a number of the best decisions I ever made. I've accomplished a number of the goals on that list. Since we're coming up on the new year, and I'm going through the process again, I've decided to share a little bit of what I learned that weekend. Happy New Year!

Step One: Digging down to core values.

Imagine a bunch of managers fresh from the airport sitting around a hotel conference room at 8 in the morning, ready for a day of learning about how to be more effective managers. They're sporting power suits, fancy watches, holding their executive pens and their notepads. They aren't expecting what's about to come.

The man they've all paid to come see walks into the room and, after introductions and a few warm up exercises  asks them to concentrate, close their eyes, and imagine the following scenario.

     In your mind's eye, see yourself going to the funeral of a loved one, Picture yourself driving to the funeral parlor or chapel, parking the car, and getting out. As you walk inside the building, you notice the flowers, the soft organ music. You the the faces of friends and family you pass along the way. You feel the shared sorrow of losing, the joy of having known, that radiates from the hearts of the people there.
     As you walk down to the front of the room and look inside the casket, you suddenly come face to face with yourself. This is your funeral, three years from today. All these people have come to honor you, to express feelings of love and appreciation for your life.
     As you take a seat and wait for the services to begin, you look at the program in your hand. There are to be four speakers. The first is from your family, immediate and also extended ... the second speaker is one of your friends... The third speaker is from your work or profession. And the fourth is from your church or come community organization where you've been involved in service... Now think deeply. What would you like these speakers to say about your life? - Stephen R. Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Habit 2
The man they've come to see is Stephen Covey, and you can imagine the atmosphere in the room. Tense silence. They were all thinking they would get a few new management techniques, and they are plunged into a soul searching exercise that brings them face to face with their own mortality. The power of this method is that it immediately shows the real value of the things that we spend our time and energy on. No one in that room wants his coworkers to say "he climbed the corperate ladder with the best of them" or his best friend to say "boy, he really had the nicest cars"

We start at the foundation of our goals, our core values, or what Covey calls our "center."

Once we have written out their speeches, we can start to distill our values from what they say. For example, I wanted a coworker of mine to be able to say that I was "passionate about the best - not just good enough, mature beyond his age, hard working and kind." I encourage you to write as specifically as you can, have in mind specific stories they might tell about you to show those values.

Find the things that repeat, for example, all of the people that spoke at my funeral mentioned that I was passionate or wholehearted about what I do, and nearly all of them mentioned something about not letting people around me (including them) stay stuck. So I ended up with wholeheartedness and  "not-enabling" (I'd love suggestions for a way to say that in the positive) as core values. All told you should have anywhere between 5-10 core values.

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