I’ve always considered myself to be goal oriented and I think I have achieved most of my goals. But when I measure my goal setting skills against what the experts say, I always come up short. My goals are rarely written down. Seldom do I write out a specific time line nor do I break each goal down into measurable steps. These are the very skills I teach in my workshops, so why haven’t I applied them to my own life?
Somewhere inside me I wanted to leave room for the hand of God to direct my path. You may call it fate or taking a leap of faith, but I wanted to leave some of what happened to me, open to the possibilities that came my way.
I recently read a book, by David Gray, Sunni Brown and James Mancanufo, called Gamestorming. They gave my approach to life a name…fuzzy goals. And having fuzzy goals is a good thing!
A fuzzy goal is one “that motivates the general direction of the work, without blinding the team to opportunities along the journey.” Cambridge researchers including Alan Blackwell and colleagues pioneered the concept. A fuzzy goal is the balance between focus and serendipity. They straddle the space between two seemingly contradictory criteria. Fuzzy goals give direction without squelching intuition.
Fuzzy goals are emotional, sensory and progressive.
- Emotional It is the passion around the subject that creates energy. People, teams, organizations need to have a compelling reason to do what they are asked to do. It’s about your personal passion. Often I tell people that their mission in life lays at the intersection of their passion and the world needs around them.
- Sensory Fuzzy goals need to be made as tangible as possible. Using pictures, illustrations, mental images or visualization, help to make hold fuzzy goals concrete.
- Progressive Fuzzy goals allow for and are based on constant forward motion. The pursuit of fuzzy goals is a learning process, sometimes called “successive approximation”. Did you know that most space shuttle flights are on course only 2% of the time? The other 98% is course correction. Fuzzy goals are adjusted as you learn and grow.
So perhaps my life has not been a neatly defined timeline of planned accomplishments like some would suggest. But if I hadn’t been open to the life detours along the way I never would have been a psychotherapist, managed radios stations, consulted organizations from entrepreneurial businesses to the federal government, taught second grade to college level students, written three books and learned to coach executives. Sometimes I wasn’t sure where my next adventure or “paycheck” was going to come from but to quote Alan, “Voyages of discovery involve greater risks and more failure along the way than other endeavors. But the rewards are worth it.”
I hope you give yourself permission to have some fuzzy goals with some unexpected accomplishments along the way.