How Completing A Puzzle Helped Me Think About My Goals

Start with the edges.

Tick tock. January is almost up. New year’s resolution goal setting season is almost over. Or is it?

At the beginning of the year, everyone I know sets goals personally and at work that are too aspirational. Let’s get real. Start small. A few goals are better than none and for goodness sake, just start. Anytime during the year will do. Don’t wait for perfect. Don’t wait for the right time.

Start With The Edges

I learned a great lesson from one of my boys over the holidays. He loves puzzles and received 2 of them, one for Christmas and one for his birthday (yes, I have the double whammy avalanche of gift giving with January 2 and January 3 birthdays right after the holidays for two of my boys. #planahead).

We could have left the puzzles in their boxes and stored them away in the recesses of cabinetry in our home. Instead we took one on a trip and made it a group project and we started the other at home. We seized the moment to BEGIN.

Puzzles, like new goals or projects, are daunting at first. But you have to open the box, dump out the pieces and start somewhere. Start with the edges.

Put the framework in place for your goals to take shape and hold up. You want to read one book a month. Send a text or email today to someone who will hold you accountable. Or set an alarm on your phone to remind you to go to bed early to accommodate some reading time before you fall asleep. These actions are the edges of your goal meeting puzzle.

At work, a majority of my friends say their departments set goals every quarter that are rarely fully met. First, what’s interesting about this is “every quarter.” You too can set 3 month goals for yourself personally or professionally. Knock those out of the park to give you momentum to tackle bigger things the next 3 months.

Second, some teams and departments at work are wired for ass kicking and making a big impact. But my background as a service provider cautions them. As the adage goes, “under promise and over deliver.” Ideas are great but actions win. Don’t be up in meetings about each goal and metric and down in productivity. Get the puzzle done.

Complete the edges and keep plugging away at the rest.

Completing the two puzzles at the beginning of the year made me realize it’s the little pieces when patiently put together add up to a beautiful picture. So this year I decided to focus on the edges — to make little tweaks in my day, my routine and plant the seeds professionally that will add up to a complete puzzle picture at the end of the year.

And it wouldn’t hurt to add completing one puzzle every year to your list to give you the metaphoric win. A moment to see how one piece makes up the larger whole.

One of the puzzles my son and I completed.