Desire Versus Goal

Here’s a strange question. How can sex therapy advice improve your job performance? Well, it’s actually pretty simple. It’s knowing what you, yourself, can do to make your job more streamlined. Dr. Roger Hall is an author and business psychologist who started his career as a clinician, helping individuals work through their issues in marriage. He learned that there are plenty of parallels between work life and home life.

I remember in my training reading a sex therapy book and the author made a great distinction. She said, there’s, there’s a difference between a goal and a desire. And she was talking about it in the bedroom. And, and, and what she said is a goal is something that you want that requires only your cooperation and a desire is something that you want that requires at least one other person’s cooperation. And, you know, it works great when you’re talking about sex therapy, but then I sort of think of that, that works everywhere. And I see in the workplace and I’ve seen this over and over again, that managers and bosses will come up with their annual goals and you’ll have annual performance reviews, and it will be a quote goal that isn’t a goal at all. It’s really a desire. It’s something that requires that two people cooperate together. And so if my pay increase is dependent on Bob over here, that’s a wonderful desire, but it’s a lousy goal because I don’t control Bob.

With that in mind though, how do we move forward with our job performance? Or even just a lot of it happens when, when we’re planning the year.

So, so with your boss, you’re planning your goals for the year. It’s important for you not to agree to a goal that requires someone else’s cooperation. So if I’ve got direct reports, I can define my success by the behavior I do, but they still may not be successful. So it’s important for me to, when I talk to my boss to say, I can produce this thing, but I, and I can attempt to influence my direct reports, but since I don’t pick them up and carry them, I can’t make them do it.

If I have to cooperate with another department for my goal, that’s not a good goal. It’s behaviorally. What, what behaviors will I do that I can document to show that I did my part to move the ball forward?

So let’s say you take all of this information and you put it toward doing better at work. How do you put it towards doing better at life?

I’m a whole life person. I believe that what works at home also works at work. It’s the same principles. And I tell, I tell people all the time, it is a to have a better marriage is a wonderful desire, but a lousy goal, because a great marriage requires a great husband and a great wife, both working on having a great marriage. So for me, it’s a wonderful desire for me to have a great marriage, but my goal is how do I become an excellent husband to my wife?

So I have to study my wife and what matters to her (and I have to ask her, right)? And then, then I figure out, okay, the behavior that I must exhibit to be an excellent husband. And so I, I studied with a a marital researcher named John Gottman. And he said, in order to have a happy marriage, you have to have a happy husband and a happy wife, both working on a happy marriage. So for me, I don’t, I don’t have the goal to have a happy marriage. I do have the goal to make me happy and for me to work on having a happy marriage. So all I can be in charge of is my part of that, of that process.