Neil Thompson’s Lesson for Living – Be clear about your goals

When I undertook my management training many years ago we were taught the importance of a ‘strategic’ approach, which meant at all times being clear about what we were trying to achieve – that is, what our strategic goals are. Our strategy, then, is the plan for achieving these goals, hence the term ‘strategic’. At that point I had been a practising social worker for a number of years and, to me, having clarity about what we were trying to achieve was second nature. So, I was surprised when so many of the other students on the course seemed to think that this ideas of a ‘strategic’ approach was something new and exciting.

Since then I have learned that I should not have been surprised by this. I have come to realise that it is not uncommon for people to lack clarity about their goals or how they are going to achieve them. This is because, whether at work or in our private lives, it is so easy to get bogged down with ‘getting on with it’. At home, it can be about making sure the bills get paid and so on – just the day-to-day chores of earning a living and keeping a household going can take up not just a lot of time and effort, but also space in our head. Similarly, at work, just getting through the day and the demands made on us – especially if you work somewhere where demands come at you from different angles – can be enough to fill your diary and your head. This can be especially the case in workplaces cultures that are characterised by a ‘heads down, get on with it’ culture, with little or no room for reflective practice …

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