You’ve heard that goals need to be “SMART,” right? It’s a fairly common model for making goals, you know, not pointless. And I have, over the past few years, improved at making goals “Specific,” “Measurable,” “Relevant,” and “Time-bound.” The first two, especially, I do well—I think it’s the engineering training that makes those so easy.
But, every once in a while, I realize that I have totally skipped the “A,” which stands for “Achievable.” One of my major weaknesses is perfectionism (and it is a weakness, more often than it’s a strength, especially within the intersection of libraries and web development), which is part of the problem. Also, although I have a little bit of project management training, I sometimes fail to think through the risks inherent to any given project. In the particular example I’m writing about, today, now that I am sitting down and acknowledging them, I believe the major risks are overcommitment/burnout (for me), others’ lack of time or interest (too small/busy a committee), insufficient groundwork having been laid, and a myriad of existing and potential technical hurdles.
I’m not here to declare failure on this project, but to acknowledge, to myself and to the world, that my vision of the project was unreasonable. I need to dial it down a bit, aim for something that can be achieved in a reasonable timeframe and that can be grown into the eventual vision I have for this project, or something equally good. I thought that a small group of committed volunteers and I would bring this whole thing from [essentially] zero to DONE in a matter of several months, and that’s just not realistic. One, my group of volunteers may be very small, indeed; only two people have expressed interest, and that was with reservations. There might be one or two others who would help, if I asked individually. So, not many. Two, “DONE”? Really?
Here’s the thing, though: we can totally get some good work done. We CAN get a blog going, to feature existing librarian volunteers; we can maybe survey our membership to see what volunteering people are already doing and share that data; and—admittedly, this is not as cool as an ongoing volunteer clearinghouse that our communities all know about and that is self-sustaining with minimal committee intervention, but it is more achievable: we can set up a Librarian Volunteer Day in the state. That will be a lot of work, true; it’s probably an aggressive goal, but it is an achievable goal.
I find my blood pressure is going down, a little, just having acknowledged all of this and dialed my goals back into some semblance of reasonableness. /sigh/
(Blogs: for making mistakes and learning in public, right?)