I hate goals. For me, goals can add pressure, bring disappointment, waste time. The general thinking always seems to be that we need to set goals or we won’t get anywhere, we won’t achieve anything. Many years ago I used to babysit for a couple who had their life goals stuck on the wall – how much money they wanted to earn that year, where they would be living in 5 years, what their business would be worth in 10 years. I recall being puzzled by this apparently aspirational list, having witnessed their constant anxiety and wondering where the plans were for how they were actually going to get all they wanted.
Cards on the table – I’m all about the process, I love it more than achieving the end result. I love the journey, the problem solving, the nuts and bolts that go into achievement. The received ‘wisdom’ of every business seminar I’ve ever attended is that we need to set sales goals, get the numbers up. It’s all about how many followers we can amass. But what about quality? Shouldn’t we be working to produce the best we can in our chosen fields before we start to lobby for followers? Shouldn’t our goals be to add something of value to the world, to bring joy and skill and knowledge wherever we are, whenever we can? And with this, I will admit that goals can be good, that I don’t hate all goals.
I recently had the joy of delivering a Masterclass focussing on How to Set the Perfect Search. And guess what the key to that is? Yep, setting goals. When we are teaching our dogs new skills and developing those that are already established, we do our dogs a great dis-service if we do not set goals. If we don’t know what we’d like to achieve the dog will receive muddled messages, risk confusion and frustration and only by luck will they learn something useful or fun. Setting realistic and achievable goals and then planning in detail how to navigate our way to them gives dog and handler a framework within which they can follow, adapt and even change the goals. From there we can measure our successes, identify issues, plan the next steps.
Whenever I begin to feel rudderless, unsure of what to do next, overwhelmed by life, I return to the reason I do what I do, to what I’ve done for the past 30 years. The satisfaction of helping to improve the lives of dogs, the lives of the people they live with and their relationship and understanding of these precious canines is what sustains me. Dog by dog, person by person, each individual success fills me with joy. To see a tail wag or a smile from the team right in front of me, to read about how the achievement has been replicated at home or even to learn that someone in another country has taught their dog using my book or online course are the goals for which I strive. I love goals.
Note: I originally posted this on my old website on 26th July 2019