What Is the Goal?


Welcome back to the ongoing saga of My Booty vs. My Pants. If you are just joining us and wondering how in the world my pants pertain to foster care, start here.

In my last post, some of you sharp-eyed observers noticed that I was talking about a side benefit of my experiment with drinking 12 ounces of water before each meal. Which raises need to discuss how iterating means that we might shift our goals throughout the process. Let’s review quickly:

  • Lesson One: Focus on small, attainable iterations because hope and momentum are incredibly powerful.
  • Lesson Two: Practice noticing.
  • Today’s Lesson: There is never one single goal.

Multiple goals? Heavens to Betsy, this is getting crazy.

That’s right, change is crazy. We are never working on a single goal, especially when we are dealing with complex systems like foster care or my wardrobe. So how do we manage complicated and sometimes conflicting goals with the need to remain focused and move forward?

First, we need to be realistic about what the deepest motivation is. When it comes to my pants, what is my actual goal? Pants that fit? Losing 20 pounds? A kickin’ beach bod?

My actual goal is health. I want to have the energy to do all of the things that I need to do. I want to feel joyful and peaceful in the midst of the mayhem. And yes, I want my damn pants to fit so that I stop thinking about my pants and focus on more important things.

And this is what I would call a squidgy goal (go ahead and snicker at the obvious joke here). Health, as an entire concept, is hard to measure. Yes, we can apply numbers to things like blood pressure, body-mass-index, cholesterol, etc. But those are all sub-goals. I can’t actually tell you that I have a health rating of 8, that measurement just doesn’t exist.

How do we remain focused with all of these moving goals?

OK, let me collect my thoughts through the power of the bulleted list:

  1. Small goals are important because we can actually achieve them.
  2. Not only is it important to make the goal achievable, but it is equally important to take time to notice the impact of that goal.
  3. Sometimes, in that noticing, we might find an alternative path to our big goal.

When making iterative changes, our big goal (health) should remain steady, but our sub-goals (drinking water) might be more flexible.

In terms of foster care, the biggest goal is to take good care of children. Underneath of that goal there are things like decreasing permanence timelines, increasing placement stability, reducing staff turnover, and many more. Each of those things is complex, which means that we need to simultaneously balance the need to be both focused and agile. Innovative and steady. Learning that balance starts with small steps forward.

If you are interested in learning more, join us for one of our upcoming events.