Goals vs Focus Area: The Difference, And Why You Should Care (Planning)

Goals and Focus
Photo: Pixabay/ Pexels

I love goals and lists.  For me, crossing a goal off of a list is a sign of accomplishment…Achievement…And success!  Except when it’s not.  The unintended consequence of my ‘goal focus’ is that if it’s not one of my goals, it doesn’t get ANY focus.  So, when Peter Bregman over at HBR.org proposed that I  “Consider Not Setting Goals in 2013“, I was at least an interested reader, and I thing you might want to be as well.

Bregman’s concept of replacing goals with ‘focus areas’ is a little scary for me, a list-o-holic.  However, I’ve been burned by my single minded pursuit of goals enough times that it makes sense to me.  Here are his definitions:

A goal defines an outcome you want to achieve; an area of focus establishes activities you want to spend your time doing. A goal is a result; an area of focus is a path. A goal points to a future you intend to reach; an area of focus settles you into the present.

So, as we help people change in 2017, maybe we should consider changing our thinking from – “Get that project completed” to “Ensure the people impacted by the project understand and accept its importance.”

When we focus on project completion, we can forget about the people impacted by the change.  If we focus our attention on the buy-in of the people, the project will get done with less ‘collateral damage’ along the way.  In 2017, I want to focus more on the people than the project.

How about you?  What might your focus area be in 2017?

Check out more on my website: Kenneth E Fields.
Kenneth E. Fields has designed and implemented successful change management strategies at a Fortune Global 500 company for the past 15 years. His book, Visionaries, Builders, and Maintainers, is available in print and Kindle editions.