When it comes to getting the desired results, author Brené Brown suggests this question: “What does done look like?” to get everyone on the same page. Once people on a team are clear about what is expected of them, they can get to work.
Brown details how to use this technique in several of her books. The question is intended to drive honest conversations about when a task or a project will be considered complete. As part of the process of answering “What does done look like,” the leader makes sure whoever is carrying out the task has ownership, all the information, tools and resources needed. I believe we could use this question and the same kind of approach across many areas of our lives, not only to complete a project.
What does done look like when it refers to your goals
We live in an era of intensified competition. When success is often measured by your next great achievement. There’s little time spent celebrating who you are and where you are right now and a lot in working for the future. Granted, I’m an avid supporter of ambition. It clearly keeps the world moving and the human race progressing. Yet, there’s something to be said about the cost of not taking stock. Smelling the roses. Feeling good about yourself. Feeling enough. So why not ask, “What does done look like in terms of my goals? When will I feel I’ve reached them? What markers can I put in place to realize I’ve “arrived” at that destination I’ve set for myself?” And once you do, enjoy it for a while.
I’m not talking about becoming complacent. I’m talking about taking a solid break when you achieved your goal to savor the new place you carved for yourself. Who you are after achieving them. How much more confident you feel. How much more you could now do for others by sharing what it took to reach this particular stage in your life and career.
When is enough enough when you can’t get what you want
Conversely, there comes a time in almost everyone’s life and career when you have to cut your losses. Those occasions when after working for a long time towards a specific goal you realize you’ll never reach it. Whether it is a specific title, or client you were after, or discovering the formula to cure a disease or filing a patent. Whatever it is in your case, you arrive at the realization that it won’t happen. At least, not in the way you initially planned. When is it time to recalculate? To stop investing time, energy, money, hope in an idea that you can’t turn into reality? When is the right time to call it quits and move on?
As important as it is to have objectives that get us out of bed every morning, it is to keep a realistic outlook that enables us to recalibrate when things don’t go as expected. Persistence and grit are remarkable traits to have. They are what keep you going when the going gets tough, and they should also be put to use when you have the courage to stop going. When you sit with yourself, evaluate the situation and face a negative outcome you weren’t expecting. This is the perfect moment to talk to someone you trust who knows what you were trying to accomplish and can objectively advice you on whether it’s time to change the goal or the path to get it.
When are you done with your job
I work with female talent in large organizations for a living so I’m the last person who would advice you to quit without trying your best to figure out a way to stay in your company. Many women face difficulties with their organization’s culture and with lack of growth opportunities. My approach is to help them identify the problem and then the potential solutions. Yet, when you’ve tried everything, and serious problems continue to interfere with your career growth, or affect your health, there comes a time to question when enough is enough. What is that limit that pushes you to make a decision to leave?
What does that moment when you are done with your job look like? How do you know when you’ve tried everything? Who could help you figure out if you are seeing the 360 of the situation? If you actually did try all possible solutions?
It’s not smart to wait until you get sick, depressed or develop a serious case of insomnia before you make this type of decision. Once you reach a point when you dread going to work, you don’t feel appreciated, or you feel a lack of purpose, you’ve gone too far. So keep an eye out for telling signs that things are not going well at work. Reach out to trusted colleagues. Have a courageous conversation with your boss about how you feel and ask questions. “Am I missing anything? Is there anything I could/should be doing differently?” Stay curious and open to the insights people share and see if they resonate with you.
It’s important to figure out what may not be working before you jump to a different job to ensure you don’t end up in a similar situation.
What does done look like when it comes to being busy
Brené Brown talks a lot about the pernicious effects in our society of equating being productive and being busy with being successful. It’s so much a part of our daily conversations:
“How are you?”
“Oh, busy, busy. And you?”
“Yes, super busy too.”
Sometimes it can feel like if you are not busy you are a loser. But aren’t most of us trying to succeed so we have more time to enjoy life? So, when are you hoping to do that? When do we stop being busy to put our feet up? To take a vacation? To watch a movie with our loved ones? When are we finally done with all that busyness? When will you feel you’ve done enough, worked enough, checked enough boxes before you go home? Go to bed? Turn the phone off?
I know this post offers more questions than answers. And that is exactly my purpose. To get us all to slow down and think a little about issues that affect the quality of our lives. Taking the time to answer these questions can truly help you craft a much more fulfilling career and life.
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