Why Your Learning Goals Should Be Fuzzy

Gray, Brown, & Macanufo“In knowledge work we need our goals to be fuzzy.”Gamestorming

In a time where tech and science are driving change, our goals need to become adaptable.

We can no longer set our sights on something strict, when so much of life can change in the blink of an eye.

Information permeates through our lives in increasing volume and complexity, as such it’s never been more valuable to be life-long learners. But as learners we need to know what we’re aiming for.

How do we set learning goals that are not only achievable, but immune to the ravages of change?

What Are Fuzzy Goals?

We should set goals that are a little unclear, unspecific, fuzzy.

A fuzzy goal, as the authors write in Gamestorming, is used to help us navigate towards something that we don’t yet know and can’t yet comprehend.

“Because the goal cannot be determined precisely in advance, a project must proceed based on intuition, hypotheses, and guesses.”Gamestorming

When we’re learning, we should have an idea of what we want to learn, but we should be more focused on the act of learning than what we’ll know at the end.

This way, we’ll be open and accepting of new ideas, new information, and things that challenge our current intuitions.

“[A fuzzy goal] motivates the general direction of the work, without blinding the team to opportunities along the journey.”—Alan Blackwell

The Benefits of Fuzzy Goals:

1. They Will Keep You Curious: We don’t need to blindly strive towards something, we become free to explore.

2. There’s No Such Thing As Failure: With no specific endpoint the failure to reach the goal simply becomes a turning point, a learning opportunity in itself, from which we can find a new direction to follow.

3. They Keep You On Your Toes: You will be on constant lookout for information that might be related to what you’re doing, but that would not be relevant to a specific goal.

4. They Can Beat Out Biases: We often look only for information that confirms our hunches and beliefs — the confirmation bias. With fuzzy goals we have the ability to adapt, therefore counterintuitive and disruptive information should be welcomed and sought-out.

Fuzzy goals keep us safe from change. That change might be external — new research, new tech, the loss of something important; or it might be internal — a new passion, a curious itch, a discovery.

Whatever happens, a fuzzy goal allows us the room we need to maneuver.

“What is unknown usually far outweighs what is known. In many ways it’s a journey in the fog … there are no examples of where it’s been done successfully before. Voyages of discovery involve greater risks and more failures along the way than other endeavors. But the rewards are worth it.”Gamestorming

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