goal setting

Setting and Keeping Goals

By Catherine Lang-Cline

It can be a New Year’s Resolution or maybe you heard someone talk and it completely inspired you to make a change. Either way, goals are always made with good intentions, but how do you keep them? Start by figuring out what you want to accomplish, dig deep because it might not be what you think it is on the surface. For example, are you always feeling exhausted? Maybe the answer is not to sleep more. Maybe it’s the food you eat and your goal is to eat better or maybe you just really need a vacation? Do you hate going into work? Is the goal to get a better job or just to resolve some issues? Do you have some achy joints? Maybe it is time to figure out what is going on there?

You have determined the real issue, now let’s discuss keeping your goal on track. These are some things that have worked for me:

  1. The most effective thing that you can do is to tell someone your goal. What is even better, telling many people your goal. Create a group that all share their goals and hold each other accountable. Once it gets out of your head and into a conversation the greater the chance you will have to complete it. You may find that your group can help you with your goal and you can help with theirs.

  2. Find an image of your goal and put it in a place where you can look at it every day. Looking at your goal every day will not only help you visualize the goal, but it makes it feel more comfortable for you, especially if it is a lofty goal. It will be a constant reminder of what you are wanting to achieve. Create an entire dream board of goals! More goals create a better chance of you completing at least one.

  3. Take time out of your week to strategize how you will achieve this goal. Find some quiet time and start to write and research what it will take to make this goal happen. Treat it with the respect it deserves because we all deserve to make great changes.

  4. Add this goal to your calendar. If you are working out, mark out some time for exercise. Block out time for a vacation and plan it. Put into your calendar the time that you are going to call that doctor, purge that closet, or rewrite that resume. Don’t schedule anything for this week or maybe this month. Plan it 2 months out. Why? If you plan it too early, it is easier to make excuses. If you know that it is coming for weeks, you can plan around it and keep your promise to yourself.

Your goals can be personal, professional, lofty, or simple. (Sometimes those simple ones are fun to just check off so we can get addicted to accomplishment.) Whatever you chose to do, take it seriously, come up with a plan, and ask for help if you get stuck. For me, the feeling of getting this done is fantastic and sometimes it can change your life. True story.

Your Career: Reflection and Goal Setting for the New Year

By Kristen Harris

“Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”
                          ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Do you know where you’re going? It’s important to figure that out, because you’re going to end up somewhere. Let’s make sure it’s actually where you want to be.

The holidays are a great time for goal setting and personal reflection. It’s true! In-between the food, friends, family and celebrations, the end of the year is a perfect time for self-reflection about your career, what you’ve accomplished, where you are now, and where you want to be.

Here are a few steps to get you started:

  1. Take Advantage of Downtime. While it can be busy with parties and events, the holidays are also a quiet time of the year in many businesses. We often have a few extra days or hours off during the holidays. Be selfish and treat yourself to a little time just for you.

  2. Give Yourself Space. Go somewhere you enjoy that is relaxing, maybe even inspiring. Getting out of your normal day-to-day locations can help open up your mind. Try a coffee shop, a park or natural space, the library, a cabin in the woods… anywhere you can enjoy a few hours of uninterrupted time.

  3. No Preconceived Notions. Don’t come with expectations of what you’ll do or accomplish. Bring a blank notebook, settle in with your favorite beverage, and just let the thoughts flow.

  4. Reflect on the Past. Take some time to think and make notes about the past, primarily this year. What went well? What did you accomplish? What are you proud of? What didn’t go so well? What were your biggest challenges? People tend to go straight to the negatives, the things we need to “fix”, so be sure to spend time on positives as well.

  5. Think About the Future. Where do you want to be in a year? Three years? Five or Ten? What do you love doing? If you could improve one thing, what would it be? Do you have a big crazy idea or dream? Write it down! Make notes about things you want to accomplish, and potential challenges you want to overcome.

  6. Capture Your Ideas. Having your goals visible can be a powerful motivator and reminder throughout the year. Create a visual “dream board” with photos, write a story about where you see yourself, put everything in an app on your phone, or use any other format that works for you. Put this in a place where you’ll see it and reflect on it often. (You may not complete this step in your short “think time” session, but commit to finishing it before the end of the year.)

  7. Make a Plan. Look at the goals and dreams you’ve captured. What would it take to accomplish just one of them? Sketch out a brief plan, listing the basic steps, resources, support, and time required. Doing this for a few goals can help you see which ones could be accomplished more easily or quickly.

  8. Take the First Step. Pick one or two goals to focus on, and define the first step. Then commit to it. Put a meeting on your calendar, schedule time, buy a book, register for a class, contact someone… whatever that first step is, take it.

  9. Tell Others. Enlist support from friends, family, co-workers, or anyone that you trust to believe in you and your ideas. Share what you captured, and how they can help you. There may be something specific you need, or maybe you just want someone to check in with you every so often. Offer to help them with one of their goals in return.

  10. Check In. Throughout the year, check in with yourself. How are you progressing on your goals? Is it time to create another plan or figure out some next steps? Wherever you captured your ideas and dreams, make sure it’s visible and you see them often. (I have a “dream board” hanging right by my desk so I see it all day, every day. It reminds me to keep taking small steps to get closer to one of my goals.)

The stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmahanakwanzika can be busy and filled with demands from others. If you wait until after the holidays to start thinking about next year, you’ll be joining the herds of people all focused on completely changing their life in January.

Beat the rush. Take a little time for yourself now and plan for the coming year.