The Bowl Championship Series claims to have been “undeniably successful” in achieving their goal of pitting the two top-rated teams in the country in a national championship game, while creating exciting and competitive matchups among eight other highly regarded teams in four other bowl games. So why does it seem to many of us that the BCS falls short?
Don’t we all do that? I mean … don’t we all claim to have either achieved a goal or to have put ourselves on the road to achieving a goal only to realize later that we’ve actually fallen short?
Goal setting is the hardest thing to do yet the most productive way to move forward in our lives. But how does someone do it so it works for them?
This week I had the opportunity to share my method of goal setting with a colleague and, from that discussion I realized it would be worthwhile to scribe my method to preserve it for future reference because there will always come another time when I can’t figure out where to go next!
Set your sights on a far-reaching, but realistic goal. When you were first starting out, for example, in school: was your goal to graduate or was your goal more far-reaching than that?
When I first started working in Labor Relations & Human Resources Management, I was a clerk. I knew after a couple of months that I didn’t want to clerk for the rest of my life but, I also knew that clerking was one of the best ways for me to learn the intricacies of the field and to walk a mile in the shoes of an employee who was barely scraping by from paycheck to paycheck. I call this time in my life my first lesson in professional Human Resource Management.
There was also an added bonus from that period in my life; I learned how to dream professionally, and in concrete terms. And dream big I did! At that early start in my professional life, I decided to set my career path toward achieving an appointment to the pinnacle position in the Labor Department (use your imagination). Yes, that was a realistic goal! I didn’t know where the future would lead me but I also knew I shouldn’t close the door to any possibilities!
To achieve my goal, I knew I had a lot to learn and huge dues to pay … but I was up for it! This is what I did:
Once you’ve set yourself up with that far-reaching goal, put it on the back-burner. My ultimate goal was to help me stretch professionally. It dared me to take on challenges that would develop the skills & abilities I’d need to reach the finish line. The plus side is that it also nurtured confidence in me with each marginal success! Each step toward my goal convinced me that I had the ability to succeed.
Figure out what’s next. Take one baby step forward, and then another. My baby steps involved moving to a new city to start a new, full-time job; then, six months later, I enrolled in graduate school. Determined to be great at both, for the next three years, after putting in a full day at work, I traveled 125 miles roundtrip, three times a week, to attend night classes, to conduct professional research, and to participate in team projects that contributed not only to my degree but toward improving my performance at work. By day, I negotiated labor contracts (something I had never done but was challenged to learn as a protégé), I administered a staffing and compensation system, developed skills as an adult trainer and project facilitator, taught myself how to use a PC (yes, we were still mainframe users at the time), and created an integrated, PC-based information system that shared payroll & personnel data before this was a mainstream concept. You see … one step (taking on a new and challenging job) lead to another step (taking classes while continuing to work full-time), then another (learning the nuances of collective bargaining) and so on. Each step by itself was a baby step but when they’re linked together, they start to take on a “path-like quality”.
Follow your instincts. There’s no set way to achieve one’s goals but I can tell you from experience that listening to your inner-self is the best way to stay on track. I did what felt right to me, I did what interested me, and I worked for employers that would round out my education about working in various industries, in various parts of the country, with various types of employees.
That has been my path and yes, I’m still in pursuit of my goal. Will I get there? I don’t know, but I do know that goal setting should allow for mid-course adjustments because a very wise man (my father) taught me that life isn’t just about achieving the goal; it’s about the journey to get there too.
So, make the most of goal setting by getting the most from your journey along the way! That’s what I call success!