Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Nice goal, what's your plan?

Scott Berkun writes today that, in a nutshell, personal goals are amorphous and weird. He points out that in order for them to be useful, they have to be measurable and specific. But that's not what goals are. If you ask someone for their life goals, they'll say things like "retire by 60" or "own my own home" or somesuch. That's not measurable until it's done. The illuminating followup question is, "What's your plan to reach that goal?" If you're talking about your life, and you don't have a plan to reach that goal, then you're not gonna. The same is true for career goals.

Let's say your goal is to "master Hibernate". That's a nice goal, but not at all measurable. Plan items might be to:

  1. Read a particular book on Hibernate and give a presentation.
  2. Answer (correctly) at least 7 postings in the Hibernate forums.
  3. Apply skills above to map a bidrectional many-to-many relationship.
  4. Research transaction options and give a presentation/recommendation.

Goals without a plan aren't goals, they're just hopes.