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2. A Hierarchy of Objectives

Author: Barry Thorogood

Added: November 25 2012


In my previous blog I was writing about 'The 3 jewels of Management and Buddhism.' To remind you, the 3 jewels are: 

1. Buddha = Your Goal 
2. Dharma = Procedures to achieve your goals 

3. Sangha = Team (supportive) 

I stressed the need to have clear Goals and Objectives.

There is a HIERARCHY OF OBJECTIVES (You will have your own examples, and they proliferate as you descend the Hierarchy, depending on how complex your Life is. The simpler your life, the less you have to worry about.

Objectives are always changing, so having read this you may now have a new objective: e.g. 'Simplify my Life!' grin) 

Starting at the top: 

1. PURPOSE: Why do you walk this Earth? e.g. To make a positive contribution 
to the planet
2. MISSION: What is your Mission? e.g. My Mission is to be happy
3. GOALS: What are your Goals? e.g. My Goals are to stay healthy and earn enough to comfortably support me and my family 

4. OBJECTIVES: What are your objectives?: e.g. Simplify my life. Spend more time with my family as from today. Maintain and keep a work life balance. (Quantify these) 

5. TASKS: e.g. Set up a time/task/family management system. (Could be as simple as a diary!) Allocate times to each part of my life. Practise Mindfulness 

6. JOBS: e.g. Meditate. Cut the grass. Do the filing. Paint the spare room 

In management we teach that all objectives need to be SMART or they are useless. The acronym SMART stands for:





Time related (All Objectives have a cut-off point or deadline) 

However, (there's always a however): 

STANDARDS are Objectives that do not have a cut-off point. They are are ongoing and can last forever. As such they are equally important (perhaps more so).

 Examples of standards are Safety, Ethics, Respect, Cleanliness. Good taste. Compassion. Environmentally Friendly.

Suppose you say: "My objective is to be rich!" You do not say by when you expect to be rich, nor do you specify whether you mean rich in terms of money, or rich in terms of relationships and quality of life. Even if you specify 'richness' in terms of monetary value, it does not quantify or measure how much you think rich is. Is it one million pounds, £10 million, or £10 billion? So just saying "My objective is to be rich" is not specific, neither is it measurable, it may well be appropriate, it may not even be realistic, and you have not put in a time scale. As it fails on 4 out of the 5 SMART criteria, the odds are that you will never be rich (unless you win the pools, win the lottery, successfully rob a Bank, or inherit from a rich relative)

At Team International we tag Ethical and Rewarding on to SMART objectives to make them SMARTER. Why? Because there are too many examples of people who have set themselves SMART objectives

 and have achieved them unethically at the expense of the environment, their family and their colleagues. Who wants to be rich if you have no Love?

Rewards are important because if you are so driven to achieve an objective that you do not stop now and again, to give yourself a reward, and review what you have achieved, you will never feel satisfied. You will become what the Buddhists term 'a hungry ghost.' Always striving but never fulfilled.

In the North American Indian tradition there is a concept called 'HANTA YO' which means 'The Way'.

HANTA YO is the path that you have chosen to take on your journey through Life. You may not always have the luxury of choice: 'Shit happens, but it is how we deal with it that counts.' 

When you are on your path you are powerful. When you lose your way you become weak and impotent. It is therefore extremely important to understand why you walk this Earth and why you have chosen, or have ended up journeying on, a particular path.

How is it for you right now? 

Time for quiet reflection... 


2. A Hierarchy of Objectives