It’s Over Once You Celebrate

Insight #284

Never celebrate the end of a project before it is totally done.

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Did you know that nothing is over until it’s over?

Of course you know that. We all do. But we don’t always act as if we know that nothing is over until it is over. And the reason is that we don’t distinguish between goal-directed activity and goal activity.

Goal-directed activity is what we do to reach a goal. Goal activity is what we do once we have achieved the goal.

Hang on a moment. Why do we do things at work? Actually, why do we do anything anywhere? We do things because we hope to get a reward of some sort for doing it. In other words, we are willing-to-do because we are hoping-to-get.

But because we are human, things tend to get complicated. Doing things (goal-directed activity) increases our need or desire. Enjoying the results (goal activity) reduces our need and desire.

Got that? No? Neither did I. Until I thought of this example: preparing dinner.

Preparing dinner is goal-directed activity. The closer you get to the end of making dinner, the hungrier you become. (Which is why chefs eat during the process of preparing the food. Except they don’t call it eating. They call it tasting.) Eating dinner is goal activity. The more you eat, the less hungry you become.

Why should you, as a manager, distinguish between goal-directed activity and goal activity? Well, if you and your team celebrate the end of a project before it is totally done (tasting as you go), you will struggle to wrap up any loose ends to finish the project completely (no longer hungry enough).

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.

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