I am taking a day off from our re-read of Thinking, Fast and Slow to spend the day at a pickle festival.  I began the morning with a bike ride (Mr. Adam’s has already commented on Strava) rather than running to change things up just a little which helped shift me to an introspective mood!  For your reading pleasure, a slightly modified entry from the Motivational Sunday series, this one from a Sunday in December 2013.

While we have a little less than half of a year left before the approaching New Year we can still take time to consider the goals and objectives we created for the year or New Year’s resolutions made.  However, many times we set goals that do not support our vision.  Goals are steps along a path, while the vision is the destination.  If we were to write our goals in a user story format, the goal would the action and the vision or strategy the benefit. When goals and vision are not linked, it will be hard to achieve either.

First, there is the abandoned resolution.  According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions and another 17% infrequently make resolutions.  Of all of those that make resolutions 8% achieve them.  While there are a myriad of reasons for the low success rate, goals, and resolutions not linked to a vision or a strategy is one contributor. Without a strong link, it is easy to lose focus and focus and progress are connected.  In my personal case linking goals and vision is highly linked to success.  Without a vision,  a destination, I am easily distracted. In Agile teams, we have seen the impact on motivation and velocity when teams that do not understand the big picture.  This is why it teams take the time and effort need to create and understand Agile Release Plans.

The second problem is when goals are attained only to find out that they don’t really move the ball forward.  I liken this problem to jumping in the car multiple times on the weekend to shop for food, go the dry cleaners, and the pet food store.  Each trip satisfies a specific goal but does not support my vision of reducing my carbon footprint and leading a greener life.  Each goal is met but we end up in the wrong place. There is an old adage that says “without a destination any direction will do.”  Simply put know where you are going at all times, even if you have to pivot have a destination.

Last year I committed to losing 30 pounds so that my knees would stop hurting when I was running.  Without a vision pursuing that goal would have been even harder. I have learned that goals are great.  They are an integral part of planning and progress but they are not enough. A strategy or vision is even more critical.  Do not confuse goals and vision.  A big goal is no different than an epic user story. Having big goals can be a great motivational tool, but they work better if you have a vision of where you are going.  When you begin planning for the New Year begin by thinking about where you want to end up.  I believe Stephen Covey put it succinctly . . . begin with the end in mind.