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Should You Achieve All Your Goals?

So many people wrote posts at the end of 2009 analyzing their goals and what they achieved. I did the same thing, and it was a great exercise. It allowed me to look back at what I’d planned on, and see how well I’d done over the year. I’ve known about the power of goals for a long time, ever since I saw the founder of the Discovery Channel, John Hendricks, speak at a corporate event. It was inspiring, and it’s stuck with me for years.

But should all your goals for the year be achievable?

I would argue that they should not. If you have actually accomplished all of your goals, or exceeded them, you probably did not do a good job of setting the bar high enough. Especially as you look across a year. Your interests will change, you will enjoy some things more than others, and likely you will exceed some goals and not attain others.

That’s OK, and as long as you have made some effort and improved yourself, it was a good exercise. I failed miserably at one of my goals in 2009. It was on my mind, but I kept putting it off, and by November I didn’t have the time, energy, or desire to focus on it. And I didn’t want to half-ass it just to check some box. However I exceeded a few other goals, and that made me feel that it was a successful year in terms of goals overall.

As you set your goals for 2010, and it’s certainly not too late, be sure that you pick some things that will make you work. Things that will stretch you, and things that you want to accomplish in your life. You might not achieve them, and you can analyze that next Christmas, but keep them in mind, and as long as you are moving forward, you’ll be accomplishing something.

The Voice of the DBA

Steve Jones is the editor of SQLServerCentral.com and visits a wide variety of data related topics in his daily editorial. Steve has spent years working as a DBA and general purpose Windows administrator, primarily working with SQL Server since it was ported from Sybase in 1990. You can follow Steve on Twitter at twitter.com/way0utwest


Posted by Tim Mitchell on 25 January 2010

I don't think you should always set goals that you *know* you can accomplish - by setting some benchmark that *might* be attainable, you can push yourself a little harder, and really get a sense of accomplishment if you arrive there.

I do think it's important to find goals that, even if you don't completely succeed, you can see quantifiable progress.  Maybe I set a goal to read 20 technical books in a year.  If I read only 15, or 12, or even 10, have I failed?  It's true that falling short results in missing the mark of the goal, but the larger expectation is for personal improvement.  If that lofty but unreached goal causes you to work harder at improving yourself over the year, then the purpose of setting the goal has been met.

Posted by Jason Brimhall on 25 January 2010

I agree with you.  Some goals should be difficult to attain.  Don't sabotage yourself by creating an unattainable goal intentionally.  Set the bar high and work at reaching the goal.

Posted by jcrawf02 on 25 January 2010

I just found a great quote to this effect, funny the way that works: greatday.com/.../100122.html

Posted by Dugi on 25 January 2010

For me I said no! I think nobody can do it with 100 % just if the goals are very few of them. I think every time you will have barriers achieving your goals, and sometimes you will be in bottleneck and no way to pass the problem, maybe next year as you said.

Posted by Steve Jones on 26 January 2010

good to see a few people agree with me. Shooting high, and falling short, still probably gets your further than shooting low and getting there.

Posted by Andy Warren on 26 January 2010

I'm not sure that doing it publicly is a good idea. If you set some goals at the beginning of the year and indicate that a couple look ambitious I think that's a better way to handle it, as are mid year updates. What will a future prospective employer think if you set goals publicly and fail to meet them due to poor time management or failing to recognize a goal was more difficult than expected and rescoping it?

Privately, setting ambitious goals is a good technique...if, they are ambitious enough to be doable and you hold yourself fairly accountable!

Posted by jcrawf02 on 26 January 2010

tell them you were too dedicated to your dayjob to complete your goals ;)

Posted by Steve Jones on 26 January 2010

Public listing is up to you. You ought to be able to explain things in an interview, or post again. They are your goals, not your employers. I would not think that missing a goal would act as a litmus test.

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