What vs how

So I sat down to write out my GTD 50k goals and work my way into the next quarter.  And its hard.  Let me rephrase that … it’s haaaaaaaaaaaaard.  The question is why?  I know what’s important to me, I know what I want to accomplish, don’t I?  Why is it so ever-loving hard to sit down and write out those goals?  

Form over substance

If you’ve been following along, you know that the form information takes is pretty important to me.  So when I sat down to pull together my thoughts on my goals for 2011, the first thought that occurred to me was “how am I going to record this?”  Notepad, google docs, blog post all flashed quickly through my head.  And then I thought “hmmm, I wonder if I could do the mapping from high level to low level goals, how could I use visio to graph the whole thing?”  ”How would that look?”  ”How could I update the lower level goals quickly and easily without messing with the big ones?”  And here I am writing a blog post about how I’m setting my 2011 goals, rather than actually setting them.  See a common theme there?  Yup, how.

If what’s on second, how’s not even on the field

It occurred to me as I was beating myself up for an inability to even get started on this goal setting that defining how is what I do.  I define how a client captures their data.  I define how they’ll interact with software.  I define how _that software is deployed.  I define _how _the web servers, integration servers and database servers interact.  I define _how _data is stored.  I define _how _data is accessed. How, how, how.  The _what _I leave to the clients.  So when I sit down to do something for myself, all of a sudden I’m the client and forced to define the _what.  And its haaaaaaaaaaard.

The difference between knowing and defining

I know _what my goals are.  I _know _what I want to achieve.  The hard part is verbalizing them discreetly.  The hard part is writing them down in some meaningful way.  The hard part is _defining _what I _know in a way that makes sense outside of myself.  And so through this process, I think I’ve discovered one of my goals for this year:  engage earlier in the process and help my clients define what they know.

Now to _define _the rest of them.

Happy New Year, everyone.


Jon Holt

A coach, an entrepreneur, and a no-bull advisor in growing small businesses through the use of practical strategy, light-weight governance and sitting back and thinking about running your business, regardless of what you do.

Read More