Goals or Guesses:

Which one will work for you this year?

GIS JANET says …

My answer is goals, and I hope that is your answer, too. Guessing at what the year may bring is fun and might give you some insights about how you see the world (optimist versus pessimist), but if you want to see results, setting goals is your best bet.

Goals help direct our thoughts, keep us focused, and create a sense of urgency. And goals that adhere to the SMART formula—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-framed—will be easier to achieve. It will also be easier to chart your daily/weekly or monthly progress, or lack thereof.

Since starting my own GIS consulting company, Intersect, writing and reviewing daily goals is an every-morning task. I start my day by asking, “What is the most important thing I need to accomplish today?” Then I quickly write a list of the tasks. If the tasks or steps are too big, I break them into smaller, more manageable tasks that ultimately lead to finishing that goal.

You will be amazed at how this simple habit keeps you on track and moving in a successful direction, a direction that you create and that can be changed very quickly. These two phrases—“you create” and “can be changed very quickly”—are usually manifested more effectively in smaller firms than in larger ones.

But whether you are a one-person shop or belong to a large company, all goals should lead to the same major objectives: winning work and making a profit. And that part hasn’t changed for me. Every part of my goals has something to do with winning work and making a profit. This is why I write them down and keep them right in front of me throughout the day. The following quotation it captures my thoughts exactly (its author is unknown): “Write it down. Written goals have a way of transforming wishes into wants; can’ts into cans; dreams into plans; and plans into reality. Don’t just think it—ink it!”

In the past couple of years, we have seen dramatic changes in both the surveying and GIS professions, and most of us have relied heavily on our sense of humor, patience, and daily goals to help us focus and get through the tough times. For many, the tough times have not ended, and daily goal-setting may offer you a method to cope with the uncertainty surrounding your professional options. Hopefully, once you start setting daily goals and seeing positive results, you will agree that goals instead of guesses is a more productive way for you to get the most out of your career and life.


I’m “guessing” that goals should be my answer as well. In better economic times, the temptation to make a few guesses would be present, especially on the personal side of things. But with all the guessing being done by economists, stock market analysts, and other experts, I should have some well-thought-out goals and plans for this and future years. As the old saying states, if you don’t know where you’re going, you certainly won’t know when you get there.

Hopefully all of us have begun putting our well-conceived plans into action to achieve the goals we have set for this year. For a large number of professional land surveyors and surveying companies, the past couple of years have been difficult. Some of our goals have been impossible to reach and some well-made plans were derailed by external forces we could not control or influence. The unfolding of a new year is the ideal time to rejuvenate your optimism, uncover the possibilities, and formulate your goals and your plan to achieve those goals. There has to be some degree of relief that a year—probably not one of your better years—has been put behind you.

Having said that, I’m guessing that 2011 will be an improvement over the past two years. I believe we must stay optimistic that the future holds better things for us, provided we set the right goals and develop good plans to get us there. I’m guessing that folks on the national and global scene who are much smarter and more knowledgeable than I are making decisions that will support the probability that reasonable goals, along with a well-developed plan, can be achieved.

I’m also guessing that there will have to be an increasing demand for surveying, GIS, and engineering services as our economy continues its slow but positive recovery. With many infrastructure needs having not been met in the past few years and with land development needs rebounding, there should be more opportunities for our professions to put our plans into action to achieve our goals. I am counting on our professions to formulate and discover new ways that we can intersect for the mutual benefit of our clients and our professions.

Another guess of mine is that technology will continue to make available new equipment, software, and procedures to provide even better services to our clients. The purchase and use of these new products needs to be included in our goals and plans in order for each of us to remain viable and competitive.

While Janet and Randy may not see eye-to-eye on all surveying and GIS issues, they do respect each other’s perspective and point of view, and attempt to “intersect” their professions whenever possible. Randy and Janet invite you to submit your questions to “Intersect.” Contact them via email at intersect@mckimcreed.com or 919-417-0894.

About the Authors

  • Janet Jackson, GISP
    Janet Jackson, GISP
    Janet is certified as a GIS professional and is president of INTERSECT, a GIS consulting firm.
  • Randy Rambeau, Sr., PLS
    Randy Rambeau, Sr., PLS
    Randy is a geomatics office manager with McKim & Creed, an engineering, surveying, and planning firm.

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