Getting the challenge right with stretch goals
Stretch goals help us grow in capability and courage. And they can be your best friend if you are getting sick and tired of doing the same old thing.
Doing the same thing over and over is OK for some people. It is definitely not OK for others. Our motivation can wane if we constantly do work we can do easily. It makes for a less fulfilling work day. This is what workplace balance is all about.
So what can you do to create stretch goals?
Be a pro-active employee
Try to choose a workplace culture that encourages employees to challenge themselves. Look for programs or hints that they encourage staff to identify ways to take on extra tasks or pitch special projects to the boss.
Create extra opportunities. Promote the idea that the workplace culture supports initiative.
Most workplaces should be happy if employees want to work on a special task, as long as it doesn’t replace the focus on the work at hand. Having something new, special and challenging to work on can help you rejuvenate. It can add a desire to finish the standard workload quicker because they have something to look forward to.
And these extra skills, experiments and ideas can help your workplace grow through innovation as well, as long as they are handled correctly.
For the people screaming because I have suggested free work, please calm your farm. It’s not working for free when you are on salary. And some free work is actually OK. We don’t have to ban working on side projects without money. We simply need to be able to set the stretch goals attached to work in OUR favour.
If you are freelance or self employed
Try looking at new products, special offers or new ways to engage with customers in your business. Think of ways you can stretch a little further through gaining new customers, providing a better service or expanding what you offer. It doesn’t have to be an over-haul and it doesn’t have to be a grand project. Just enough to sink your enthusiasm into is enough.
However, if in neither situation you haven’t got room to spread your wings, all doesn’t have to be lost.
Think of stretch goals outside the workplace where this enthusiasm and drive can be utilised.
Try something like launching a blog or side project. Take up a new sport that requires you to improve and level up such as a martial art.
Make good use of your spare time through creating something that makes you feel the same high you’d expect from a job.
Position yourself to stretch, not break
Another common way to lose all motivation is to take on tasks you are not ready for. Ways that you can overload yourself and take on things that make you feel overwhelmed as opposed to stretched are:
- Taking on a volume of work that is well over the amount of time you have available to complete it
- Saying yes to tasks where all the information has not been supplied for you to complete it properly
- Your knowledge and capability is well beneath the amount required to complete the task at hand
- You are not allowing yourself sufficient time to enjoy successes
- Work becomes an unending stream of stuff to do without significant intellectual or emotional reward through applying creative thinking
Whatever the case, it’s time to practice the art of saying no and take a few steps back from the coalface. Setting yourself up to become jaded, de-motivated and over-worked is common in our society.
Continuously pushing yourself to do too much, to feel at sea with the work, pinning your hat on the “go-to-person” mantra, and not giving yourself moments to reflect on what you do will kill your passion for the work. A stretch goal should be about challenging, not about damaging, yourself.
How you can help yourself untangle from the mess that is over-reach is:
- Stop saying yes to every task and play to your strengths
- Set reasonable time limits on work- and display a calendar of work so people can see your availability and work with you
- Learn to delegate and share the load – often times we train people to always chase us for help when there are a bunch of options available
- Create a DONE LIST so you can see what you achieve each month or quarter so you lose that feeling of a constant stream
Look for the opportunities to take your workload back to a manageable level to improve performance and productivity.
The bottom line on balancing your workflow and obtaining workplace balance
As I’ve mentioned before, getting into the flow of activity should be your main aim. Try and pick that nice centre spot where you can enjoy the stress without being a slave to it. And banish boredom wherever possible.
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