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Goals 3: How clear goals should you have?


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After reading “Goals 1: Goals are for the young?” and Goals2: Goals or needs” you may have thought about how influenced the salesman and the artist are by their professions. 

Approximately ten thousand sales people have responded to Brilliant’s issue “Do you have clear goals for your job?” and a whopping 88 percent agree. That fits with their profession. The sales person who sold for a million dollars is rated better than her colleague who only sold for $ 800 000. Dollars and cents make their job objectives very clear compared to e.g. four thousand IT people or 1500 HR people where less than three quarters felt they had clear goals. That means the share without goals is more than twice that of the sales force.

Perhaps all professions are not naturally goal oriented. Marketing and R&D have even lower levels of goal clarity than IT and HR. I believe that artists are the next step after R&D. Picasso got to be successful during his lifetime but think of the artist ideal and Van Gogh comes closer to my mind. Poor, unhappy and unappreciated in his lifetime but immensely valued later on. Artistic inspiration seems to come from misery rather than from satisfaction and great wealth.

I do not even think all companies should strive for goal clarity. Innovation with complete coal clarity may be an oxymoron, like a tall midget. People working in the steel industry have clearer goals than people working in the gaming industry.  

The positions of the salesman and the artist in this discussion remind me of how much our professions affect our personalities. As an analyst I have always had a difficult time working with completely clear objectives. They have often felt unnatural and limiting.  I guess an artist would feel the same, but more.


We tend to assume that clear objectives are always better than unclear ones. That is hardly the case. I think a better approach is to think about your work and consider the question:

HOW clear goals should YOU have?


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