Own Your Goals
If you have felt powerless over your work, career or life in general, it might be time for you to look long and hard at your goals and how you approach them. Creating your own personal and professional goals, and establishing a process for accomplishing them, protects you from going completely into a ditch when you hit an icy patch in the road. Having a framework that requires only tweaking rather than rebuilding from scratch when things change will set the stage for you to recover quickly should the bottom fall out of your situation.
It is certainly possible that an employer can influence your path when a company changes course, and market conditions or customers’ needs (or lack thereof) can also cause an abrupt change in direction for the business owner who takes their eyes off the ball. Nevertheless, although challenging, you can learn to refuse to allow outside influences to keep you from attaining your goals or living your best life. Bumps in the road occur, but that doesn’t mean you are powerless.
It’s important to take the bull by the horns and commit to what you want. Setbacks may prevent you from achieving your goals in the time frame you had originally anticipated, but they don’t need to cause you to give up on those goals entirely. Blaming the economy, your employer or your customers won’t get you anywhere. Taking stock of what you need to do and establishing realistic timelines for accomplishing the necessary tasks to move forward will put the control back in your hands.
Here are some basic guidelines for ensuring you can stay on track:
Write out your goals. This is information you need to see every day. “Keeping it in your head” is a surefire recipe for forgetting what is important when temporary setbacks distract you.
Commit. Assign realistic timelines for accomplishing each goal.
Be realistic. Examine the timelines you have set and review all of your other commitments required on or by the same dates. Don’t cut off more than you can chew.
Break them down. Break the larger goals into achievable objectives. Establish timelines for each of the objectives you need to meet that will ensure you are on track to achieving your goals.
Write everything down. Think through each objective completely and identify every task associated with accomplishing it. Don’t assume anything. Unless you identify exactly what needs to get done and when, you run the risk of missing critical components that will move you forward.
Review your schedule in advance. Be aware of your commitments. Don’t pile on tasks that aren’t likely to get done because of prior commitments.
Be flexible. A critical piece to ensuring you will accomplish your goals is being able to adjust to the real- life events that pop up and can derail you. Move timelines. Rearrange activities. Don’t drop everything and turn your quest into a losing proposition by attempting to hang on to a plan that can’t work.
Own your reactions. Put your catcher’s mitt on and field the curve balls that get thrown your way. Avoid choosing “victim” status when external influences cause you to change your plans. Rethink your priorities and adjust your timelines.
Be accountable for your progress. Make sure you are getting all of your tasks accomplished in the prescribed time frames to allow you to move forward with the next objective. Identify a method for monitoring your progress that will keep you motivated to do what you need to do. Avoid making excuses for not getting things done and learn to reassign tasks that are not completed for days/times when they can be accomplished. For example, you might want to draw up a contract with yourself or enlist an accountability partner who will hold your feet to the fire. Or do both and share your contract with your accountability partner.
Every year people make resolutions that are distant memories by the end of February. Don’t fall into the same old pattern. Make a commitment for what you want in your life and make sure you are following through with the actions required to get you there. You have the biggest stake in accomplishing your goals. Shouldn’t you be the one to be accountable for that?