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To Accomplish Your Goals, Avoid Shiny Objects

Written by Tammy Sullivan, Senior Compliance Specialist & Project Manager, Client Support

My daughter’s decision to change colleges a few weeks into her freshman year was a big surprise! She’d played soccer since she was three and always wanted to play in college. In high school, she went on college visits looking for a school where she could play soccer and receive a quality education. After visiting a number of colleges, she chose a Division II school.

Shortly after moving 6 and a half hours from home to attend college and play soccer, she decided it wasn’t the fit she was looking for. She quit the team and started to look for a new school with a new team so she could continue to play the sport she loved.

She thought she found a team and wanted our blessing on moving schools. We had one question for her. We knew soccer wasn’t going to be her career, so we asked…

“If you break your leg tomorrow and can’t play soccer ever again, which school would you rather graduate from, the one you’re at now or the one you’re looking to transfer to?”

Her response was immediate, “The one I’m at now!” After a short discussion, she realized she could stay at the school she loved and still satisfy her soccer needs by playing intramural sports.

Not only does this apply to kids in college, it also applies to all of us in our personal and professional lives. To reach your long-term goals, you have to stay focused on the end result. During the travels to your goals, it’s very easy to get pulled away by the “shiny objects” – our “wants”. However, that short-term satisfaction can take us down a path that isn’t aimed at our long-term goal.

In this case, a good education was the long-term goal. The lure of being able to play soccer in college seemed like a good idea, but to find the right team fit, it didn’t align with finding the best college for our daughter to get her degree. If you’re in a situation where you know it’s a great fit, yet you’re looking for something more, determine what that “something more” is and see if you can achieve it where you’re at.

Finding a way to satisfy your “wants” without compromising your long-term goals requires you to look at situations from a different view point. In my daughter’s case, there was a need to still compete and play soccer while staying at the school she loved. She’d always assumed she’d play soccer in college and never thought about intramural sports. By opening her mind to a different solution, she was able to reach her goal.

Let me share an example of this in my professional life. I was working for a company, the culture was a great fit, and I was happy with my position and where I was in my career. However, a shiny object came along…the opportunity to own my own business. I thought this would be a great next step in my career. I knew it would be a lot of hard work, but that it would be immensely rewarding. I’d be able to direct my own ship and I’d have something of my own. So I jumped at it. Once I was knee deep in owning my own company, I realized this wasn’t where I wanted to be. I missed the interaction with my co-workers, working with a team of professionals and I found out that my personality didn’t allow me to ever turn off work! I realized after 2 and a half years, it was time to stop chasing the shiny object and get back to the rewarding work I loved… banking. To help me fulfill the need to own a business, I now consult other small businesses to help them grow and achieve their goals.

In our professional and personal lives, if we’re looking for those shiny objects along the way, and satisfying those needs derail us from our long-term goals, we must open our minds to achieve those goals in a different manner. This mindset will allow you to work towards your long-term goals while satisfying your needs along the way.

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