In Part One of The Green-Eyed Perspective on Goals we learned it’s possible the Green-Eyed Guide and Charlie Sheen are both obsessed with winning. We also discovered the caveats to setting grandiose goals.
At some point in your life, you may get the sudden shocking realization you aren’t sure what your goals are. Perhaps you feel something is missing from the Big Picture that is your life, but you aren’t sure exactly what that missing piece is. Sometimes trying to pinpoint why you feel incomplete or unfulfilled is like trying to see through fog, or trying to hear a song when the radio is cutting out. What do you do when only the outline of an object is visible? How do you enjoy the song when there’s so much static interference? How do you proceed toward your goals if you’re not exactly sure what they are, or why you’re pursuing them?
Step One: Pinball Wizard meets “Identity Capital”
Step Two: Activation Energy
Step Three: Failing and Feedback
Ten years ago I wanted to write a guide to energy drinks (check); I also wanted to get married by age 25, live in San Diego and be a community college teacher. I underestimated how much more confident and grounded in my identity I would feel a few years after 25, that I’d leave San Diego for Long Beach, and that I’d turn down two college teaching offers for a research and development position I find both challenging and rewarding. Life is funny sometimes.
Personally, I think setting goals involves channeling your inner Pinball Wizard. If you are lucky enough to have a clear image of what you want, go after it. Just be prepared for your path to change, or for the goal itself to move. If you’re not sure what you want to do for the next ten years, how about the next two? This is where Identity Capital comes in.
In the book The Defining Decade, Dr. Meg Jay offers potentially life-altering advice and insight for anyone confused about what their goals are, or should be. Though the book is written with twentysomethings in mind, the contents of this book are enough to inspire people of all ages. To try to summarize or paraphrase the advice throughout the book would do Dr. Jay a disservice. I will briefly touch upon Identity Capital while challenging all my readers to give this book five minutes (at which point I’m sure you’ll be hooked).
Dr. Meg Jay explains “Identity Capital” as “the repertoire of individual resources that we assemble over time…the things we do well enough, or long enough, that they become a part of who we are.” If you have some inkling of the type of person you’d like to become, or the career field you can see yourself in, it’s better to point yourself in that direction than to wait until you’re more certain of your goal or until the perfect position comes along.
To use a personal example, after graduate school I found myself working as a bar-back in a popular restaurant. No companies in the field of Food Science were hiring, but I thought food service, food science…close enough. Perhaps it was, but too quickly I got too comfortable working there and stopped looking for other jobs. I was the only female in that position, so I felt like a pioneer. I also felt strong and active because the job kept me moving around. Furthermore, I was good at what I did. So good (in my opinion), that I wrote a Bar-Back Handbook for all the newbie bar-backs. Slowly it sunk in how much I enjoyed teaching others.
After a horribly stressful night of trying to keep up with the work on the night of NBA finals, I realized I was not content with being a bar-back forever. Furthermore, my experience there would mean nothing to my future employers. The time had come to make a move and change direction.
In other words…
It’s okay not to know exactly where you’re going. It’s NOT okay to just stand still, hoping some breeze will clear the fog in your mind and suddenly your path will be illuminated. If you’re unhappy with the status quo, the best thing you can do is to make a move. This is something Hamlet never seemed to get. The question is not about whether “to be” but what “to do”.
Next time you feel incomplete, try asking “why” to suss out the root cause. Next time you are venting aloud or silently in your head, follow all your complaints with a call for action. Instead of saying “I am sick and tired of this”, say to yourself, “This is not what I want, so what am I going to do about it?” Embrace the mentality of Socrates and Six Sigma – sometimes asking questions is more important and more helpful than having the answers.
Next comes the hard(er) part – the doing. Let’s say you know what you need to do to get out of your less-than-desirable situation, but it’s terrifying. Or perhaps it’s just daunting, overwhelming, improbable or seemingly impossible. That’s where Activation Energy comes in.
Stay Tuned for Part Three of The Green-Eyed Perspective on Goals