Learn how to work on purpose to align your actions with your goals.
Sometimes you can be doing all the right things, working very efficiently, and still not get where you want to go. Bernice, Melvin, and I were going camping for the weekend. Camping is great fun! Just like meetings. Only with dirt. And worms. And bad food. It was 7 a.m., birds were chirping in the treetops, and Melvin and I were ready to hop in the car and go. Bernice, however, was not.
“I am making an offering to the Goddess. We may not leave until the Goddess is appeased.” Melvin and I paced. Bernice calmly shredded some strange-looking root, placed it in a small bowl, and began chanting. An hour and a half later, she was done. We hopped in the car, pulled onto the freeway, and spent the next two hours caught in rush-hour traffic. We missed the ferry out to the island where we were camping, and had to wait six hours for the next one. As we were setting up our tents in the dark (in the middle of a patch of poison ivy—but we didn’t know that until the next morning), we asked Bernice what was so important that she had to spend an hour and a half doing her ritual.
“I was performing an offering that would ensure fast, speedy travel to our campsite,” she serenely replied. “Imagine how late we would be if I hadn’t done the offering.”
How to Accomplish Your Real Goals
Bernice is simply demonstrating the human condition. We set goals, make a plan to reach our goals, and then forget the goals. We get so engrossed in the plan that it becomes our be-all-and-end-all, even if it’s not getting us to the goal we want. Bernice decided that the way to be on time was to appease the Goddess. She got so wrapped up in her ritual that she didn’t realize the ritual itself was getting in her way!
“That silly Bernice!” we all think. “Fortunately, I would never do something that foolish.” Ya think? Substitute “finish the current project” for “go camping” and “attend weekly status meeting” for “appeasing the Goddess.”
We can make our lives run as smoothly as melted Velveeta™ by aligning our actions around our real goals. This is covered in detail in my book, in Chapter 1: Living on Purpose. Here’s a quick overview of the basic process.
Reconnect With Your Goal by Asking Why
First, discover why you’re doing what you do. Take out your to-do list. For each item, ask, “Why am I doing this?” Write down the answer. Then ask, “Why am I doing that?” You’ll work your way up your ladder of goals until you reach a top level goal that’s a major business or life goal.
For example, I used to attend four or five professional conferences each year. Why? To get clients. Why did I want to get clients? To earn money. Why did I want to earn money? To run a profitable business. That’s my top business purpose as a self-employed person. Yours may be different. Your driving business purpose may be to ship a product, to keep customers happy, to corner the market in Oreo Ice Cream cake, or to grow and develop professionally.