Stop working on other people’s goals

Just whose dream are you working on?

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You might notice a theme with some of my writing.  I believe that you need to be a little selfish when it comes to your goals in both career and life.  I am not talking about turning your back on others.  What I am saying, though, is that no one is going to work harder on your dreams than you.

What prompted me to write this was the news about a man much younger than I: Kevin Durant.  Durant is a professional basketball player who decided this past weekend to move to a new team. Simply put, he feels that this is place where he can win a championship.  It also doesn’t hurt that he could raise his profile and make even more money after next season.

His decision rankled a number of people in my age group who, in our old-school sensibilities, thought he should have hung in there with his old team.

This got me thinking — why are so many of us stuck in this mode?  To be fair, if it were a simple matter of money, we’d get it.  I think many of us have left a job for higher-paying one.  But, somehow, things get a little murky when we start talking about goals.

I believe that, if you are achievement-focused, you’re working on someone’s goals.  The question is, “whose goals are they?”  Here’s a good test to find out.  Do you:

  • regularly feel dread about the start of your work day?
  • watch the clock or constantly complain about how “slow” time is going?
  • almost run people down exiting the parking lot on your way out?
  • not talk about future aspirations anymore?

If any of this describes your typical day, you’re not working towards your goals.

You see, a lot of us are productive and team-players.  We get things done.  We hit our deadlines.  We turn in quality work.  We get our kudos here and there. From time-to-time, we even get a nominal raise or even some promotion.  We get “comfortable” and we try to ride out the thing we have going, all the while thinking “is this as good as it gets?”

As much as we mock millennials, they seem to get something we don’t: working toward someone else’s dream stinks.  It can produce people who range from sullen and resigned to fate all the way to people who are bitter and broken.

Everyone has dreams.  Some of us turn those dreams to goals.  Even fewer of us take action.  My wish is that you become a member of the latter group. When you try, success is never guaranteed but, if you never try, failure is certain.

This time around, give uncertainty a go.

Written by JP Smith

A self-proclaimed "technologist...with attitude", I'm a forty-something husband, father and IT professional/enthusiast. I believe that learning and growth are lifelong endeavors.