I’ve spent the last 10 glorious days focused on precious little of anything with major importance. I’ve read books, listened to podcasts, watched movies, saw every single episode of the Tudors (that’s 4 seasons with each having at least 10 episodes), knitted, cleaned my house and just generally tried to recover from 60-70 hours of work every week over the past year. But…it’s now time to get back to being a grown-up…meetings, projects, due dates, stuff I love to do and stuff I prefer to not think about. Like most people, I’m dreading getting back into the grind.
One of the books I picked up over the holidays is the 52 Lists Project. It’s a way to journal based on creating lists that align with a weekly focused topic. Seems like it will be quite thought provoking and inspiring.
The first week’s task is to list your goals and dreams for 2016. Well, in all honesty, I’ve never had a shortage of goals or dreams. There are personal goals, professional goals, goals for my team, dreams about the future, hopes for my family…you get the idea. I’ve put a lot of thought into this over the past 10 days and I think I’ve finally realized that my problem is not a lack of established goals. Quite the opposite…I have too many and no clear plan to make any of them come to life except the ones focused on my career.
So…my first step is to set up some ground rules…or guiding principles for realizing my objectives…whether they be personal or professional.
- Get real.
Okay…we all want to save the world, find a cure for every deadly disease and create everlasting peace. But, the realities are such that more than likely trying to do all of those things is just a bit too much to ever accomplish alone. So, we all have to be honest with ourselves. What can we realistically achieve? Don’t get me wrong…I strongly believe in stretch goals. But having unreasonable expectations will only lead to having this same conversation with yourself next year. The key here is to ask yourself very pointed questions about what is most important. For me it’s all about balance. I cannot do it all so I must focus on the most critical things that will move me forward.
- Establish a timeline and map out a plan.
A friend of mine recently accepted a new job. It came quite unexpectedly and I expressed my surprise. Her response was one I have never heard from anyone other than textbook responses. She said “this is sooner than I expected…it’s part of my 5-year plan, though”. My first thought was…”she has a 5-year plan”…! Funny how I’ve been very successful in my career and achieving professional goals but somehow always seem to place little importance on my personal dreams. I will be honest and admit that I’ve not had a 5 year plan. Usually my plans are just to get through the day. For 2016, I have mapped out my 1-, 3- and 5-year personal plans. For each plan, I’ve highlighted where I want to be at the end of that time period and then listed out what needs to happen in order to get there.
- Be honest with yourself.
Just as you monitor your progress at work, you have to do honest check-ins on the results you’re seeing on your personal goals. Measure. Measure. Measure. If you’re not making progress, you have to ask yourself why. Is it because you need help or is it just not really that important? If you need help, get it. If it’s not important…please, please, please ask yourself what is. Otherwise, you will wake up in 5, 10, 15 years and realize you’ve not done the things you really wanted.
Having dreams and goals is of utmost importance to success and happiness in life whether they be for professional or personal objectives. But, you need a plan to make them happen. I guess time will tell if my 1-, 3- and 5-year plans are going to be achievable. Stay tuned…I’ll keep you posted.