The Howells Group Blog

Use Focus & Flexibility to Reach Your Goals

systems-vs-goals It’s that time again; time for resolutions, recommitments and gym memberships. Setting intention is good and certainly needed. But honestly, most years I over plan and under deliver. This is because more is not better and is often the enemy of achieving your most important priorities. Dorie Clark, author and coach, notes in her recent HBR article that setting too many goals results in a lack of focus. And lacking focus creates “spin”. This is great if you want a good cardio workout, but not so great if you need to channel your energy towards a specific outcome.

Clark notes that instead of creating annual resolutions, she sets 1 goal every six months. That’s right… just one. In 2015 her goal was to double the size of her email list by the end of the year. Then that latter half of that year was to launch her new book. That goal needed updating so it was edited to instead be “sell the proposal for her next book”.  Achieving any goal takes focus but it also takes flexibility.


But focus is not to be confused with fixation. Think of a good photographer. There is clear intent to capture a certain image. So, they begin with that focus in mind. But in talking with several talented photographers, their best work often emerges when a shot they couldn’t have premeditated appears. Fixation, a rigid kind of focus, means we can miss opportunities that carry us toward our ultimate goal. Often circumstances may require adjusting our lenses a bit.

Our largest client came to us years ago when we were referred for work we’d never done. This creative project turned out to be a partnership that lasted 7 years. If I was rigidly focused on only one type of client, I would have missed the growth, challenge and chance to do years of meaningful and satisfying work.

As Clark points out,  “The whole idea of goals isn’t to successfully complete tasks we blindly set ourselves to years ago. Nor is it to maximize our accomplishment of small trivialities. Instead, what counts is our ability to master the right kind of big goals — the ones that can change your life and your work”.

So here’s a toast to you and reaching your aspirations in the New Year- one goal at a time!

-Karen Howells
Managing Partner The Howells Group, Inc.

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