Happy New Year! Welcome 2011!
With a new year comes new resolutions, new beginnings and new goals. If you’re one of those people who start the year off strong but somewhere around March find yourself struggling to recall what your resolutions or goals even were, fear not–I was like once like that as well. But I’ve since then I’ve learned a few tricks to help me keep me focused and on track to achieve my goals. They’re simple and often overlooked, but they work.
The SMART method is a popular mnemonic used when creating goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely.
This will help you clearly state what it is you’re looking to achieve, keep you on track and decide whether you have been successful or not. Instead of goal such as, “I want to do well in my classes,” a SMART goal would look like this: “I want to have a minimum 3.3 GPA for my spring semester classes.”
I have a love-hate relationship with SMART: when I’m starting to draft goals, I don’t like using SMART because I may not have a specific idea of what success looks like. Often, I’ll start with a goal in general terms, then when I’m ready to make it a priority or start working towards it, I’ll use SMART to clean it up and paint a clear picture of what success would look like. These are your goals: do what works best for you.
Apart from the neumonic, also be smart in the goals that you are setting. Are you setting 3 big goals or 30 big goals? Are you setting goals that require a lot of leg work or are they easy wins that with a few small changes you can achieve? How do these goals fit into the big picture? Are these goals truly important to you?
You want to challenge yourself but be careful not to set yourself up for failure. After all, goals should motivate you to achieve more and feel good about your hard work, they shouldn’t be overly burdensome and stressful.
Write it down
In elementary school, “goal setting” time was one of the class’s least favorite activities. Now, looking back, I know that this wasn’t mean to be a torture activity, but rather build good habits that would help me in the future. (I guess I should thank my grade 6 teacher, eh?) How many times have you thought of something that you’ve wanted to do but later have forgotten about it or dismissed the idea? I used to do it all the time.
Most of these ideas were things I wanted to do “one day” like go bungee jumping or travel to a country I just read a magazine article about. Other times they have been ideas I have been motivated by the type of work people are doing, such as a coworker going back to school part-time for a professional certification or a colleague who writes a white paper on a subject she is passionate about.
One day, I started writing it all down. I started a memo on my Blackberry and wrote down the random goals and ideas that I had. Some of these goals and ideas I deleted later while others I transferred to a ongoing list of goals I keep. Every so often, I go through that list and find ways to start working towards those goals. The list includes all different types of goals: personal goals, professional goals, yearly goals, life goals. By having these goals written down, I remind myself of what’s important to me and how to focus my energy. By writing these goals down, they become more real.
Share them around
I like people. Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I’m a people person. I like to listen to people’s stories, hear about their passions, and learn about what makes them unique. In turn, many people ask me the same questions I ask them.
Through this mutual sharing, I’ve built quite the support system. The best thing about having a support system is, well, the support. I share my goals with people because it makes them more real and holds me accountable. By sharing my goals, I’ve found others who are interested in a similar goal, so we can help each other out by motivating each other and sharing experiences. I’ve found people who have achieved what I want to achieve and they’ve served in a mentor or advisor role to help me reach my goals. And I’ve found people who may have no connection to the goals that I have, but they want to encourage me and cheer me on as I work towards them. And yes, I have met cynics along the way, but the positive support far outweighs the cynical feedback. Sharing truly is caring.
So what are some of your goals this year? Mine are to keep working on my “Bucket List” and crossing things off. I ended 2010 off by crossing off number 57: Have my picture in a major newspaper. I wrote down my goal and shared my list with some friends. A friend knew a reporter at a major newspaper who was doing a story on people with bucket lists and put us in touch. And the rest, well, you can read that for yourself. I started using the tips I mentioned above a mere year ago and I’ve found that I have had more success in achieving my goals over this past year. Give it a try, I’m confident that it will help you as well.
Sejal is a Recruitment Marketing Project Manager at Intel. She is part of the team that is responsible for Intel’s global employment brand. This team helps connect candidates with Intel and Intel with candidates using channels such as the Jobs at Intel web site, the Life at Intel microsite and other Web 2.0 channels. Sejal specifically manages the Jobs at Intel Blog and Intel’s recruitment, follow Intel on Twitter @JobsatIntel or check out the Jobs@Intel blog!