I love setting goals in my personal life, as is obvious to anyone who has read my posts about New Year’s resolutions, words to guide my year, and summer intentions. Goals orient my free time, give me a sense of purpose and enable me to stretch myself.
Given my affinity for goal-setting, it came as a bit of a surprise when I realized, through a conversation with a mentor, that I’m not particularly goal-oriented in my work-life. I had given my mentor a call to ask for her advice about choosing a curriculum for Pre-K through 5 faith formation classes at the Church were I work. It has become apparent to the faith formation coordinator with whom I work that our teachers are dissatisfied with the curriculum that we are currently using, but I don’t know where to begin in choosing — or advising our faith formation coordinator to choose — a new curriculum. There are hundreds out there, and the thought of reviewing the pros and cons of each and making a decision to switch to a different one is daunting.
After explaining the situation to my mentor, I expected her to say: check out this publisher or that one; get this information from your teachers; consider this thought. But instead, she posed a simple question: “What’s your goal?”
Truthfully, I hadn’t thought about my goal. I had gotten so stuck on the little details — whether a curriculum offers a book or handouts, involves using the Bible as a base, or the liturgical calendar, and so on — that I had lost track of the bigger picture, namely the question, “What is the goal of the faith formation program at my parish?” Why do I want children to enroll in the program? What do I think children and their families should take away from the program? How do I hope catechists will benefit from volunteering for the program?
My mentor reminded me that my actions and decisions should stem from my goals — not from minuscule distinctions between various curricula options. Without knowledge of my goal, I will be lacking a compass when making choices, and not only will I get bogged down in the details, I will likely make less wise decisions.
I’m going to keep this bit of wisdom in mind as I move forward in choosing a curriculum, and also when considering other areas of my work and life. When at a loss for what to do next, asking the question “What is my goal?” will almost always be a good place to start.
Have you thought about the underlying goals of your work and personal life lately? What are they? How do they inform your decisions? I’d love to hear how this looks for others.