I find myself increasingly thinking about maximum targets rather than minimum ones:
- number of hours you want to work in a day…
- …days in a year…
- …years until you retire
- amount you can earn while still enjoying life away from your desk
- level of destruction & waste you are willing to inflict upon the world to run your business (we all have an impact of some kind, normally far higher than we realise)
- number of hours in a week you allow staff to work so they can thrive (it’s probably lower than you want it to be)
- number of clients you can happily support without compromising on quality;
- price you can charge
- miles you are willing to travel (or drive) to a meeting
- number of meetings you’ll attend in a day / week / month
There are many, many more of course, depending on your business, your desires, the world you want to live in and the world you want to leave behind.
The desire for, or expectation of, unending growth is one of the most toxic elements of our economy: it takes us far from any notion of the circular economy which sees the natural world thrive and change slowly over time.
Endless growth requires unlimited resources, which we simply do not possess. By setting maximum targets and then working within them we can begin to live better, more harmonious lives which benefit ourselves, friends and family, community, and the wider world around us.
An ash tree, for example, left to grow unchecked, will probably have a maximum growth and life span of about 200 years. But set a maximum target for its life and you could coppice it every 10-20 years so it might survive for 1,000, benefitting a vast number of humans, fungi, flora, and fauna, in a small, repeated way throughout process.
Or, the way for a single human to make the most from a ash today is to simply find some fully-grown ones, chop the whole thing down and then dig out the stumps to grow a monoculture of crops.
Maximum targets, in other words, help us think about the future; minimum ones make us think only about today. That’s why so many businesses take the cheapest route, regardless of the consequences tomorrow. By doing this, businesses can also offset the true cost of production to other people and increase profits.
It’s easy to do anything if you don’t have to clear-up after yourself.
Each of the above has an impact beyond what you might first think: and by applying limits and edges to what we do we often find more creative approaches to achieve our targets.
What are your maximum targets?