Goals are not enough for success in a Chaotic world

Goals are promoted as the way to success in many coaching, counseling and training situations. Goals are not enough for success in a Chaotic world is the title of my latest youtube video embedded here.

The world changes, you change, change is inevitable except from a vending machine.  The point of this video is to overcome the concerns some have when I point out the shortcomings of goal setting.  There is an assumption that I am automatically advocating anarchy and that the only alternative to setting goals is mindless wandering, meandering and fatalistic acceptance of whatever comes our way.

However there is a more optimistic and practical view.  That is that it is unreasonable to expect or demand the world to stay still as we attempt to reach a goal, but that doesn’t mean we give up, rather that we should not think about goal setting as something we do early in the planning stage which is then followed by execution.  It is not a linear goal-setting – planning type process, rather it is cyclical, or in reality probably more like a DNA double helix of intertwined plans (or goals) and continually planning and revision.

I think that there is not enough emphasis put on the continual planning part of the process and this is why I have coined the term “planmanship” or planfulness if you prefer a less sexist label – to describe the continual process of devising plans, revising plans, copying plans, amending, freezing, recalling, nuancing, nudging and pushing plans.   All of these skills are assumed to be intact for the goal-setter, but rarely are these skills taught to people.  Nearly always, training involves telling people what they think a goal is (usually the awful Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based variety), and then getting people to articulate their goals.  Then it is straight off to implementation with lots of encouragement and injunctions to stay focused and to be persistent.  All of which are attempts to pretend that change doesn’t happen, and that sometimes SMART goals are very dumb and the smart person is better advised to abandon the smart goal, and instead get good at planmanship.

There is more on goals limiting the imagination here and on over-prescribing goals here and on goals and happiness here

What are you doing in your coaching to promote planmanship? How can we increase a person’s planmanship capacity?