A couple of weeks ago I wrote about life being what I expected it to be. I received some great comments, and although I had already thought about writing a second part to the post to help you achieve your goals, your comments gave me a stronger sense that this may be in fact something that resonates with you. It’s nice to know I am not alone in feeling this way.
I’ve done some research, as well as looked back at my own life. There have been moments when I’ve reached exactly what I set out to do, and times when things have just crumbled; there are lessons there to be learned, but I had to look closely to find them and put them to work.
Hard work and committment are necessary for achieving your dreams, whether it is to home school your children or becoming the CEO of your company, unfortunately, sometimes misguided hard work won’t give you the results you expect. Here is a list that can help you make your dreams and expectations become a reality, perhaps you want to use these to make your New Year’s resolution happen.
1- Make a list! As a creative person making lists of things to achieve can be hard, but just as my days are more efficient when I make a to do list to cross things off of, life can also be more efficient with set goals. Think through your goals, and include some of those that may seem unlikely, but make sure you are flexible, goals and dreams can change, and that is O.K.
2- Hold yourself accountable (however you need to). Earlier this year I decided that it was time to finish my master’s thesis. I had been procrastinating too long and it was weighing on me. I told myself I was going to do it, but I also told someone I work with. She is not my supervisor, but she is definitely my superior. Her excitement and encouragement gave me the extra push I needed to get things started, even though she didn’t check in weekly like she said she would, I was worried she would ask about my progress, which helped me do the work. Two weeks ago my proposal was approved, I feel pretty awesome.
3- Get a mentor. I am very fortunate to work in higher education. Working in a university means going to great lectures and meeting very successful people as part of my job. All of the speakers we have agree that getting a mentor or two, or several during your lifetime, is crucial in one’s career.
I will go a bit further on this because I think that mentors are not just for your career. I rely a lot on my sister for parenting advice, I admire her and she’s been where I am several times before; there is a lot I can learn from her. For general career conversation I sometimes talk with a former boss who always has great advice, and while pregnant with my first child I had several conversations with a very successful woman who decided to take a step back in her career while her kids were young, she is now a CEO. I am currently on the lookout for a woman who is a mom of young kids and a successful professional too, I have so many questions!
To get a mentor don’t ask people you barely know to mentor you, rather look for people you admire and click with, and nurture a relationship just as you would with a friend. Mary has some great tips on how to be a friend that I think can also apply to starting a relationship with a mentor. Realize that a mentor-mentee relationship needs to be valuable to both parties, think about what you can offer your mentor too.
4- Don’t be afraid to say no. I have a tendency to put everyone else’s needs ahead of mine, especially when it comes to time. In the last couple of months I have set aside two afternoons for myself that I have used to work on my thesis as well as this blog. It has been great for my self-confidence and sense of accomplishment, and I cherish the time I spend helping or taking care of others a lot more.
5- Do it with a friend. Whether it is going to the gym, changing your diet or writing a blog, doing it with a friend is more fun and will give you both a sense of accountability as well as time together. I have started several blogs but it wasn’t until getting together with Mary that I made a committment to it. Even if you don’t have someone to do things with, be open to joining a community that will help you nurture those interests, for example be open to meet new people at the yoga studio so that even on days when you would easily stay home, you are pulled to the studio for the social aspect of it.
Wherever you are in life it is important to accept and move on from past decisions. I know that a big part of why I feel behind in my career is that I spent close to two years taking care of my mother, and then moved with my husband to pursue his dreams to a town where I could not continue my original career path. I did this during what is often thought of as a crucial time in a woman’s career- your twenties. However, with time, I have been able to accept those decisions and embrace the unexpected opportunities they have brought me, including getting to know my dad at a different level, which has been very rewarding.
Is there anything else you think is important? I’d love to hear from those who are where they expected to be or reached their goals, and know how they managed to get there.