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ASCM Insights

Reconsidering the Way We Set Goals


Goal setting can be a tricky and daunting task. How high should you set the bar? How will you measure your success? I recently had the opportunity to speak with APICS 2018 keynote speaker and international business motivational speaker Connie Podesta, who suggests we need to take a new approach to setting goals in both the workplace and our lives.

“I understand that businesses have to have goals,” says Podesta. “However, there’s a place in life where there are going to be paths opened up to you, opportunities opened up to you, that will not at the moment seem to fit the path to a specific goal.”

Following this thinking, the key to goal setting for Podesta is flexibility. In our interview, featured in the April-June issue of APICS magazine, she shares a story about how she arrived at her career today, in large part due to the fact that she doesn’t set rigid goals. “If I were to have set a goal that I was going to be an education administrator, my life would never go to where I am [today],” Podesta says. Setting a goal can lead to tunnel vision, causing the goal setter to only focus on and commit to the things she or he believes will help to accomplish it.

According to Podesta, goal setting in and of itself can be limiting due to the mindset by which it is approached, often derived from two areas. The first issue is lack of information: We tend to set goals from what we know, which is in fact quite limited. “Transformation usually has nothing to do with what we already know,” says Podesta. “Transformation usually is about things that we never thought of, things we never imagined, things we never pictured or visualized for ourselves.”

The second barrier to successful goal setting is lack of self-awareness. Goal-setters tend to either “overestimate themselves and set high-reaching goals that they can never accomplish, and then they feel disappointed,” Podesta says. “Or, what often happens is people underestimate themselves and they set goals that are not going to challenge them or push them to reach further beyond their potential than they ever thought.”

This isn’t to suggest chucking goals completely – I doubt any organization would get on board with that. However, it might be worthwhile to consider your goals as guideposts on a journey that might (and probably should) lead you to unexpected places. “When I think of most of the things I've done with my life, I don't think I would have imagined myself doing them or perhaps even thought I was capable of doing them,” says Podesta. “I wake up each day open to any ideas, any suggestions, any thoughts, any imaginations that I can possibly have, and if it gut-feels right … I just dive in and say yes.”

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