Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Goal Setting: Open Up Your Imagination

It’s the first of the year and many people take this time to reflect on their life and also to think about how to make this year better than years before. New Year’s resolutions abound as people think about health, relationships and careers. I am among that reflective group and as I have done for many years now, I sat down to reflect on the past year and to set new goals for this year in my journal. My philosophy in journaling is that life is already trying to impose limitations on me, so when I write down my visions and goals, I always take the limits off and just write it out the way I see it in my imagination. Your thoughts and imaginations really do influence the course of your life and my life is a prime example. As I went over all my old journal entries, I was simply amazed at how many of the things that I had written down had come to pass. I can clearly see many of my goals and aspirations from my journals in my life today.

At the WGU Career & Professional Development Center, we work with students daily, helping them with proper methods and techniques for creating the perfect resume or cover letter. I advise students everyday on the best way to do a job search or how to connect to other professionals on LinkedIn. These are all very important career tools, however, I find that sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the right methods and techniques and really miss out on the opportunity to let your imagination have some space. There is definite value in actually taking the time to imagine what type of career you want and then setting a goal to reach for it.  A recent article from Mind Tools confirms that two people can have a similar education, ability and opportunity, yet see very different results in their lives and careers. Why the difference? The difference lies in the fact that successful people take the time to think about what they really want and then they take the initiative and set goals that will equip them with the necessary knowledge and tools needed to achieve that success.

So, here are some simple tips that will hopefully inspire you to let your imagination have some playtime and help you get a little closer to your goals and aspirations!

  1. First, take a note pad (or your computer, if you prefer) and just begin writing down what you’d like your career to look like without consideration for any limitations. This is your brainstorming session so let yourself really get into it
  2. Next, write down 3 or 4 things that would need to happen to make your goal a reality
  3. Find a place to put your goal where you are sure to see it over and over again
  4. Every step toward your goal counts, so take a minute to  congratulate yourself every time you find yourself reading an article, checking out a lead or talking to someone who can give you insight into obtaining your goal
  5. Let your dissatisfaction with your current situation be your fuel and keep you motivated
  6. Get it settled in your heart that not making the goal the first or even the fifth time does not mean you won’t make it
  7. Don’t just write it down once. Keep writing your goal and updating it at least yearly and more often if possible
  8. Watch as your goals begin to materialize with each step!

This is the simple method that I used to see many of my goals come to fruition. I always wanted a career in coaching, so every year I would write down in my journal that I would go to graduate school and ultimately get into coaching. I didn’t know exactly how it would work out because there were so many demands on my life but I wrote it down anyway and reviewed it every single year. Each year when I looked over those goals, I would get inspired and I would read a book or look into my company’s tuition reimbursement plan or talk to someone already working as a coach. Writing the goals down every year and then reading it over always inspired me to take some action, no matter how small. I am happy to share that I have achieved success in both of these areas and you can do the same! Yes, there is time and effort involved- as with anything that is worth doing, but the satisfaction of creating the life and career that you have imagined makes it worth it! Happy New Year!

About the Author
Adenike Makinde is a career specialist for Western Governors University.