Progress in life and work involves setting goals, laying a plan you will follow towards those goals and taking the first step, the next, et cetera. Right? Is it really that simple? Perhaps. But, what if you are hamstrung by life’s circumstances, age, competing pursuits or demands. How do you even know if you are ready to pursue that brass ring? When other people suggest to you, “hey, you should apply for that promotion”, and you hear yourself saying, “I’m not ready”, what are you really saying? Could it be that this is a goal that you simply didn’t consider? Are you prepared enough? When will you be ready for that move? In short, what’s the hold-up? And more clearly, what exactly are your goals in life, in work? No small task to get to the bottom of that one, but well worth it. You are worthy of the effort.
I have often been baffled by people who cannot articulate their goals. I always knew what I wanted to be and everything was part of that larger plan, in pursuit of that goal. I was a driven child, teen, young woman, a self-described “real trooper” and clearly action-oriented. (Sitting still continues to be a challenge!) So, I didn’t get it when others couldn’t say what they wanted to be when they grew up, graduated, moved away; I also lacked sympathy for those who didn’t just get on with things and move towards some goals…ANY goals. Until it happened to me. My goal to become a professional actor was attained and there was, suddenly and unexpectedly, something missing. My goal was a flop and I had no idea why. It was heartrending and confusing; moreover, I had no idea what to DO next. And that is the rub: I was confusing action for progress. I lacked my own sense of clarity around my goals simply because I had been pursuing the very same thing for so long such that it never occurred to me to get clear on what it was about that dream – acting – that stirred me to pursue it. It was a goal disconnected from who I was and what I valued.
In order to set a goal, one that you can commit to, hold yourself capable of attaining and accountable for pursuing, regardless of the hurdles, you need to became clear about why it is important to you – the value it will deliver to you. If you are unclear on the value a goal has for you, it’s impossible to set the right goals, to pursue the right goals or to stay the course when hurdles emerge. Goal setting, for the sake of goal setting, is an activity, a series of actions masquerading as progress or fulfillment. Goal setting first requires clarity in order to anchor those goals, to ensure they are true and to test them out before you hit any rough water.
Journaling is one of those activities that either strikes fear in hearts or connects deeply with leaders. And we are all leaders of one sort or other. I can identify with the fear as this unfinished blog/journal entry has been sitting on my desktop for a week looking at me expectantly. Still unfinished. And my business partner keeps bugging me to “write something, come on, you do it ALL the time”. He’s right. I do, so why is blogging any different. And what value will it hold?
Looking back at your school experiences might shed light on why each of us sides with either fear or connection with journaling / blogging / whatever we now call the semi permanent recording of our world. Having kept a journal since I was a child for personal reasons (in pencil, in case I wanted to go back and change my immature words) and then later in life as a theatre arts student for academic credit (thank you Dr. Norris for allowing us to use images, clippings and scribbles), I eventually identified with a certain sense of security in writing down my thoughts. It gave me, an extrovert, a ready-made sounding board for clarifying my thoughts, a vessel for collecting my emotions and containing them to some degree and helped me identify, stick to and celebrate goals. Now, I have multiple journals for various purposes. There’s the one I keep by my bed – which is always attractive and of high quality – the one that I record home renovation plans in, the scribbler with my poetry and song lyrics and even a portable journal I can slip into a pocket or briefcase. No doubt that when I am gone, my children will wonder if I ever looked up from the plethora of literature I have created through these journals; and that is a fitting legacy, I figure.
So, am I addicted to journaling? Could be. I can’t seem to leave my house without something to write on! And they have all been wonderfully useful; I love them all. There have been many a great plan born inside (that’s how I planned my start in real estate investing), trips dreamed up and executed (when Customs asks just what I bought in Italy or France, I KNOW), notes of greatness (random, chaotic, quotable and delicious) and life schematics (how WILL the furniture fit in the basement) that have seen first light in my spontaneous hand. Some plopped out on the back of a napkin with worldwide apologies to all the wait staff who never got their pens back. Or they shuffled into my tiny moleskin that is always in my briefcase – a ready-made source of Kelly-ism tweets good for at least 10 more years. You might say: timing impacts my journaling. When the mood strikes me, I MUST be able to record it, lest it be lost forever.
And so, I begin the Keystone Leadership Development Blog. Be kind, I don’t really know who’s reading right away, but I trust you will be careful with my Blog Baby. Remember, it’s just a journal with a beautiful cover into which I will pour my wonderings, revelations, curiosities and queries. It’s not that hard I figure; I have been doing it all my life.