At this time of year, we are usually bombarded with well-meaning advice on how to improve our lives. Usually this advice is along the line of sticking to our resolutions, making very tangible goals that can be measured and so on. This kind of practical activity has its place in creating a better future for ourselves and I wholly endorse it. There’s just one drawback, and it’s a big one: often these goals are build upon foundations of “shoulds”. Not what we want, but what society or our friends or our family tell us we ought to want. And when we build our goals on foundations of shoulds, we have a mighty hard time sticking to them. Our plans look like oceans before us and we have no wind in our sails. We find ourselves in the same place the next year, declaring the same resolutions all over again.
Today, let me humbly suggest that you forget tangible goals just for a little while. Instead: dream. What does your gut say you would love, love, to do or achieve? Maybe this year. Maybe next year. Maybe twenty years down the road.
Finish these sentences:
I’ve always wanted to: ______________________________________.
I wish I could:_____________________________________________.
Someday, what I’d really love to do is: __________________________.
The person whose job I really covet is: __________________________.
If your stomach doesn’t clench, you aren’t digging deep enough or thinking big enough. Keep going until you hit that spot. What I’m talking about here is in the context of work, but this can really apply to any area of your life.
Many of the big dreams I’ve had for myself professionally have come true in the past year or two. And, although there are certainly small steps which I’ve taken along the way, without recognizing and honoring my dreams, I would never have taken these steps. I would have stayed on another path.
Soon enough, you can create a solid plan with timelines and milestones and checkmarks. But for now, dream.
So, how are you doing with your 2011 career resolutions? Me? Um, well…
Okay, I’m probably being a little hard on myself because I haven’t written much over the past couple weeks. On the other hand, I’ve made progress on scheduling my time more efficiently. Which is good, because I’ve been busy. So keeping balance has been hard. But I’ve been doing pretty well on connecting with people. That brings us to two thumbs up and two thumbs down by my count.
Now that I put it down in black and white, I feel a little better because I realize this is probably very reasonable. We do not make steady, even progress every day, every week. Growth and progress are made of fits and starts. Taking a breath, and then moving forward again is the key. Persistence = patience plus action. And persistence is the key to success. We’re a little over a month into the year. If your efforts have been uneven, or perhaps trailed off altogether, now is the time to stop, take a breath, and then start again.
As promised, I am making some career resolutions this year. To be honest, I reassess and make new goals throughout each year, and usually ignore the January 1 milestone. This year, though, it provides a needed opportunity to reflect and plan. So, here are my resolutions for 2011:
To consciously connect – it’s essential in my work to stay connected with a wide variety of people, from business leaders to job seekers to thought partners and mentors; I will consciously guide my outreach during the year to ensure I connect with those that I should
To write more – because it’s something I love, a skill I want to keep building, and it allows me to connect with people more, which, besides providing enjoyment, provides more work opportunity
To give myself a pay raise – yes, that’s right, only not in the way you think. I’m not on salary, but I can influence my pay in a number of ways. Though I will work to increase my overall revenue this year, my primary focus here is on what I make per unit of time. So, I can do a number of things including: raise my rates, schedule more efficiently so that I have less “downtime” in between paid work, work faster on fee-based projects, and focus on higher rate work. I will actually employ all of these to some degree
To maintain balance – I know, “balance” has almost become a dirty word it’s so cliche’, but one of the reasons I love what I do is that it provides an opportunity for balance that was almost impossible in my former life. Looking back over last year, I did pretty well. I need to keep it on my radar and I know I can do it again this year. My key tools are: aggressive prioritization and the willingness to say “no” at the right times
Sounds like a pretty heavy load, huh? Not really. All these are essential to my continued career and personal well-being, so I need to be doing them anyway.
Now, to be really effective, resolutions must have some detail or they lose their bite. Though I haven’t laid out the details here, I am doing this for myself. I hope you are too, and I wish you the very best in achieving all that you resolve to this year!