Catch-Up Is A Bad Goal

Humans are goal-seeking devices. They plan and execute flawlessly when permitted. Because they are so good at achieving goals, it is crucial that they have the right ones.

Many of us have coached children in sports. We are familiar with the condition of catch-up and lose.

Suppose your hockey team is down 3-1 in the middle of the third period. You give them the pep talk about how we are never defeated. They score two goals to tie, but with a lapse, give up the winner with 30 seconds left.

Intuitively, they thought about catching up. That was a false goal. The purpose should have been to score three goals not two. When the team scored two, the intuitive goal was achieved and a new goal was not ready to replace the old one. The other team provided it for them. Drat!

The coach could have done a better job.

Life can be like that too. We often pay attention to only the next step, the intermediate goal, and lose track of what we are capable of achieving.

Better to set a stretch goal and fall a little short than to set an easily reached goal and quit there.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.

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