Sunday, January 11, 2009

Setting Goals - Part II

I've written about my goals for the MBA program here and here, often focused on how I sometimes struggle to get these well defined.  

Yesterday in class, I had a conversation with a classmate that I really respect. Smart guy, great leadership skills, confident and currently leading his company through some difficult changes. During the break, he made a comment about this blog and we started talking about hobbies, passions and ways that we'd leave our mark on this world.  The conversation basically boiled down to a simple question, "How do you know what you should be doing, and are we doing enough?"

Successful career, good friends, good health, happy marriage and trying like crazy to raise children so they become good members of society.  A lot of people would say that's something to be proud of.  But that doesn't seem to be enough in the MBA mindset.  Most of us are Type-A personalities and our natural inclination is to seek out more.  More of something. But what is that something?

What I've observed is that people at our age seem to fall into three buckets.  
  1. Career Climbers - If they aren't running their own business already, they are laser focused on a title or a level.  The job is their life, it's what gives them their sense of pride and worth.  They are willing to make the major sacrifices to get to that desired level or title.
  2. Manage the Bar on the Beach - Their end goal doesn't involve a corporation.  They realize that they can make a healthy living and move towards that "after corporation" life by making some sacrifices now, to get that long-term goal.  Their hobbies and personal lifestyle are building towards that next stage goal.
  3. Where do I go next? - Smart, Successful, but 'tweeners in some category.  They are completely capable of being that great leader, but they've made sacrifices/decisions (usually family) where they aren't willing to give up everything else for the big job.  They have hobbies, typically activities with good friends, but they don't think of them as next-step-in-life activites.  
The only answer I've been able to find for people in that third group (which is often me), is to experiment and try new things.  Take a chance on failing.  And once you learn a little bit, and find something enjoyable or interesting, see if you can combine it with another or your experiments. 

For example, here's a couple things I'm interested in exploring:
  1. I don't give back enough to charities, at least in terms of time (which I don't have much of with the MBA).  As a father, I'm always looking for ways to teach my daughters lessons about life.  And from a business perspective, I'm extremely interested in the alternative energy markets and technologies.  So at some point in 2009, I'm going to explore charities that are involved in alternative energies.  Maybe I'll find one where I can give of my time, involve my girls (or teach them something), and learn something that is business-useful for myself.
  2. I've always loved to write, and I've been lucky enough to get some exposure to the publishing world.  Just as I'm doing with this blog, I'd like the opportunity to write about things on a personal level.  I'd love to write fiction, or children's stories.  And if I could find a way to combine that with learning for my daughters (or other children), that would be a bonus.  I've got 100s of thoughts, ideas and sound bytes collected in something I call "Letter's from Daddy", about things I've observed for my girls.  Maybe someday I'll publish these.  
I wish I had a better answer for my classmate, because I really enjoyed the conversation.  I suspect that we'll continue it throughout 2009, and I hope we both can make some progress on finding that something.