As we close FY16 and it’s time to set goals for FY17, I find myself thinking about setting goals. It can be a bit laborious and I know I struggle at times when setting goals. It’s easy to have the big hairy goal. But then we need to dive deeper and think about how we’re going to get there.
Goals can also be scary. Thinking about the future can challenge your comfort level and expose fears you don’t deal with frequently. A goal is the general direction and objectives are measurable, actionable steps constantly moving in that direction.
Setting a goal for the future is like following the Yellow Brick Road to the Emerald City. When you first set out, you can barely see the city far off in the distance. It’s just a fuzzy, glowing green lump on the horizon. But what you can’t see with your eyes, you fill in with your imagination. In your mind, you see the city in all its splendor. You see the buildings, the roads, the bridges, and arches. You see people coming and going. You see every radiant brick. But with each step you take along the Yellow Brick Road, the distance between you and the Emerald City shrinks. The closer you get, the better you can see the actual city. Its detail replaces your imagination. As you near the gates and the city fills the horizon, virtually everything you imagined is replaced by what is. If the city is the future, the walk is life. But setting a goal is like making the journey and never reaching the Emerald City. It’s always a goal. Whereas setting a target is a permanent scope. It’s the hazy Emerald City in the distance. The one that catalyzes our imaginations and ignites our passions. The purpose of this target is the power it brings to now, not how accurately it predicts a day a decade away.
Thinking about the future isn’t an act of management — of knowing things and arranging them and being right — it’s an act of inspiration. It’s about active imagination. Whether a future comes to be is not nearly as important as its backward echo; its very possibility shapes the present. And even if it never comes to be, the future that does never could have been without it.
Facing our fear of the future can unveil some creative ideas. When we have those moments where the fear pushes us past the norm and we have an incredible idea, the feeling can be euphoric!
So as we set our goals for FY17, lean into your fear and allow it to take you to the limits of imagination.