Friday, January 25, 2013

What comes after the victory dance

a photo by 
nflravens on Flickr.
This story is about a nine-year-old swimmer, but it might as well be about you...

The nine-year-old swimmer walked with her mother to the car in the dark at 8:15 at night after a 90-minute practice.  "I'm thinking that it's time that I retire from swimming," she said.

"Why?"  her mother asked.

"Because I have already achieved my short term and long term goals," the swimmer replied.

Intrigued, the mother couldn't resist asking, "What about your goal you told me a few weeks ago - the one about being the youngest swimmer ever to make the Olympic team?"

"I never wrote that one down," the young swimmer answered.  She didn't write that one down.  That mean't it wasn't official.  (Smart girl.)  Discussion closed.

Imagine considering yourself "done" at 9 years old.  Only a kid and already having reached the pinnacle of your anticipated achievements.  If you knew the individuals in this story personally you would know that this was a terrific example of this particular pre-teen's attempts at testing the waters.  She knew that her mother wouldn't be keen on her quitting swimming.  She also knew that her mother talked all of the time in terms of goals to be achieved (as did her swim coach).  The young swimmer really did write her performance targets down, a team activity that the coach supervised.  So she thought perhaps goal-speak would help her be persuasive.

She had done the victory dance, and now her eye was turning to the potential joys of long evenings hanging out in a comfy chair with her iPad instead of doing lap after lap, practice set after practice set, in preparation for an endless string of competitions.  (She's still in the pool, by the way, with a Championship meet only a week in front of her.)

How do you feel after you've won the big one and done the victory dance?  Do you see yourself as finished?  After the goal is achieved, do you see only an endless stream of activities in your future, mind-numbing, stress-inducing, pointless?  Or do you picture yourself continuing to measure your performance, tweaking your methods and other variables with an aspiration to squeeze out a new personal record?

The good news - and perhaps the bad news too? - is that your goal is not the end.  Of course your boss will tell you so, because the next quarter's results are still ahead.  But beyond the requirements of externally-defined business performance requirements, you have a new opportunity to set another milestone for yourself.  Your new goal can re-energize you, give you a renewed sense of purpose, and focus your time use.

You may feel like you need a little time to celebrate, and you may have the luxury of doing that.  Celebration is important, but it's not the end.  It's the beginning of the next journey.

1 comment:

Coach Jim said...

Excellent example of real life internalization of goal-focused continuous improvement!

The stairway to the summit is made of self-actualizing goals for family-life, personal passions, career-life, "clear the piles off my desk", "buy and live in a beach house".

Thanks, Coach!