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Work is Not a Game

Work is Not a Game

Sport and competition go together. Taking the competition away from sport would reduce it to a pointless, illogical activity. Competition and business go together too, and many links are made between sporting achievement and business success. But work and business are not games. Competition is no longer healthy in the workplace when it gets out of hand.

The essential difference between sporting competition and competition in the business world is choice. Players choose to compete in a sport at the level of competition they feel comfortable with. Not every tennis player wants to play at Wimbledon or the US Open. Players match the level of competition with their motivation, so many are content to play as “duffers” with their friends or in local tournaments. Being in control of the challenge allows competition to be fun. If you’re truly keen, you can try for the heights. If you’re less willing to give your all to the sport, you can settle somewhere lower down.

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Compare this with much of the business world today, where organizations establish highly competitive structures for salaries, promotions, and even keeping your job. The organization unilaterally sets the standards you must meet to win, often at some impossibly elevated level based on the aspirations and fantasies of the CEO, not the actual abilities of the staff. Competition is definitely not voluntary. Failure doesn’t see you dropped to a lower league more suited to your talent. It gets you branded a loser with a big dent in your job prospects. In this environment, competition is forced on you. Like some circus animal prodded to jump through a series of hoops for the amusement of the audience, you have no control over what you are challenged to do.

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When competition is forced on people, it’s no longer fun or motivating, especially if the level is set well above where they feel confident. Instead of the pleasure of feeling they have a good chance of winning, their main desire is to avoid being humiliated. Being overmatched does nothing to increase motivation or skill.

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Working life would be better if leaders thought about competition in more humane terms, and worked to create environments that bring out the fun element of competition, not the harsher, punitive side. Generating the right level of competition to stimulate each person without overmatching them and crushing their spirit is a skill that can turn any leader into a cherished mentor.

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Adrian Savage is a writer, an Englishman and a retired business executive. He lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for everyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on October 15, 2019

How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

How to Plan Your Life Goals and Actually Achieve Them in 7 Simple Steps

Where do you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now, or even this time next year? These places are your goal destinations and although you might know that you don’t want to be standing still in the same place as you are now, it’s not always easy to identify what your real goals are.

Many people think that setting a goal destination is having a dream that is there in the far distant future but will never be attained. This proves to be a self-fulfilling prophesy because of two things:

Firstly, that the goal isn’t specifically defined enough in the first place; and secondly, it remains a remote dream waiting for action which is never taken.

Defining your goal destination is something that you need to take some time to think carefully about. The following steps on how to plan your life goals should get you started on a journey to your destination:

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1. Make a list of your goal destinations

Goal destinations are the things that are important to you. Another word for them would be ambitions, but ambitions sound like something which outside of your grasp, whereas goal destinations are certainly achievable if you are willing to put in the effort working towards them.

So what do you really want to do with your life? What are the main things that you would like to accomplish with your life? What is it that you would really regret not doing if you suddenly found you had a limited amount of time left on the earth?

Each of these things is a goal. Define each goal destination in one sentence.

If any of these goals is a stepping stone to another one of the goals, take it off this list as it isn’t a goal destination.

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2. Think about the time frame to have the goal accomplished

This is where the 5 year, 10 year, next year plan comes into it.

Some goals will have a “shelf life” because of age, health, finance, etc, whereas others will be up to you as to when you would like to achieve them by.

3. Write down your goals clearly

Write each goal destination at the top of a new piece of paper.

For each goal, write down what is it that you need and don’t have now that will allow you achieve that goal. This could be some kind of education, career change, finance, a new skill, etc. Any “stepping stone” goals you removed will fit into this exercise. If any of these smaller “goals” have sub-goals, go through the same process with these so that you have precise action points to work with.

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4. Write down what you need to do for each goal

Under each item listed, write down the things that you will need to do in order to complete each of the steps required to complete the goal. 

These items will become a check-list. They are a tangible way of checking how you are progressing towards reaching your goal destinations. A record of your success!

5. Write down your timeframe with specific and realistic dates

Using the time frames you created, on each goal destination sheet write down the year in which you will complete the goal by.

For any goal which has no fixed completion date, think about when you would like to have accomplished it by and use that as your destination date.

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Work within the time frames for each goal destination, make a note of realistic dates by which you will complete each of the small steps.

6. Schedule your to-dos

Now take an overview of all your goal destinations and make a schedule of what you need to do this week, this month, this year – in order to progress along the road towards your goal destinations.

Write these action points on a schedule so that you have definite dates on which to do things.

7. Review your progress

At the end of the year, review what you have done this year, mark things off the check-lists for each goal destination and write up the schedule with the action points you need for the next year.

Although it may take you several years to, for example, get the promotion you desire because you first need to get the MBA which means getting a job with more money to allow you to finance a part-time degree course, you will ultimately be successful in achieving your goal destination because you have planned out not only what you want, but how to get it, and have been pro-active towards achieving it.

Featured photo credit: Debby Hudson via unsplash.com

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