I used to write out my goals in pen. Whether they were personal goals such as time spent with family, bucket lists, professional goals like a promotion, or new target revenues, I always wrote them in pen. I did this because they were my goals. I needed them to be set in stone. I needed them to be achievable and I would not adjust them. Therefore, pen was the way to record them.
Awhile back, I was chatting with a mentee. He said that he always wrote his goals in pencil. He noted that this allowed him to be adaptable. I liked this. See?—the teacher can be the student!
The more I thought about this, the more evident it became. Goals need to be adjustable. We live in a time of rapid change. From pandemics to recessions, bull markets to lockouts, we cannot always know what the future, let alone next week, has in store.
Writing in pencil (physically or virtually / metaphorically) means not selling myself short if things are not working out as I hoped and planned, but so I can strive for more ambitious outcomes. I need to adjust budgets to meet the changing marketplace. Sometimes, I need to adjust my expectations on how many meetings I can have in a week. (Pre-pandemic, they were in person face-to-face meetings which required travel and more time. I can book twice as many meetings in a day if they are Zoom calls. I need to look at travel and personal goals for everything from retirement timelines to working while travelling with my wife after my daughter goes away to university. Remote work is now possible, so rather than full retirement in five to seven years, perhaps it is partial retirement and I continue to do what I love serving the needs of others for 10 to 15 more years.
We now live in a world of constant change and flux, and that awful work “pivot.” Because of that, our goals need to be adaptable and flexible. That is why I now write out my goals and priorities in pencil!
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