Goals: How can you hit a moving target?

How do we reach our goals if we keep changing them in mid-stream?

Whether we’re using law-of-attraction techniques or project management techniques, we must at some point stop changing where we’re trying to go.

In her Nonprofit World article “Do You Know Where Your Goals Are?” Michelle LaBrosse cites “feature creep” as a common blockage to meeting goals. While she is writing for a nonprofit project team or board of directors, most of us are going to recognize this blockage in our own lives:

Feature Creep: You keep adding new features, trying to make the end result better, but time is running out and your team is restless.

I know people, writers included, who create a plan to write a book (go back to school, buy a new house, start a business) who just can stop tinkering with the goal, or some part of the plan, for so long that sooner or later all the timeliness and passion are gone.

It’s easy for this to happen at a nonprofit or any other volunteer group effort. You want to be democratic and give everyone a say. But once you start moving, some people keep wanting to have another say and another one after that. If you shut them down, they accuse the volunteer leader of being a dictator. Meanwhile, those who are ready for action are getting bored and are missing meetings.

LaBrosse’s solution:

Use a change impact matrix. Plan to freeze the project at a specified time. The earlier this is done, the faster your project will move.

While that matrix can look very formal to a project manager, we can simply say that when deciding upon the goal and creating the plan in the first place, we need to understand impact of prospective or probable change along the way; is a change after the goal or project should have been nailed down of great or of minimal importance and, either way, what does it do to costs and the timeliness of the effort?

A lof of people–and groups–appear to keep goals as moving targets because it allows them the luxury of never having to commit to anything. They’re in a continual state of “mulling it over” whether “it” is a personal decision to change jobs or a nonprofit’s decision to re-do its out-of-date bylaws. Those who are doing this mulling it over often believe they are being proactive and that they are on the move.

Actually, they are blocked. They’re in infinite limbo because they are refusing to say THIS is what I’m going to do. Flexibility and adaptability are important, but we’ll be happier, I think, if we look at the number of moving targets we have and lasso a few of them and tie them down.

If you’re interested in easy-to-use information for your nonprofit and a subscription to Nonprofit World, contact www.snpo.org.

Copyright (c) 2008 by Malcolm R. Campbell