It's February. Do you know where your New Year's resolutions are? If you're like a lot of folks, those goals already have been set aside...
It’s February. Do you know where your New Year’s resolutions are?
If you’re like a lot of folks, those goals already have been set aside for more urgent or interesting matters: Finding a new job gives way to working overtime to keep the one you have. Applying to law school gives way to filling out federal financial-aid forms for your college-bound kid sister. Vowing to reorganize your filing system gives way to just about anything else.
But it’s not too late to rededicate yourself to your goals for the year. Here are a few tips to get you back on track:
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Take a number.
Trudy McCrea, an executive coach and recruiter for Achieve-It, says she asks her clients to express their goals in quantifiable terms.
You’re more likely to achieve your goal if you have a specific target, rather than a vague one. Her examples: “Make 10 cold sales calls, reach a certain revenue goal, or eliminate arguments in a business partnership.”
If your goals run completely counter to your nature, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
“Make sure that your job resolutions play to your strengths,” said Caroline Adams Miller, a life coach in Bethesda, Md. “If you aren’t sure exactly what your strengths are, find an assessment that will help you discern them.”
Miller recommended the free “Signature Strengths” test on Martin E.P. Seligman’s Authentic Happiness site (www.authentic happiness.org) and the Gallup Organization’s $25 “Strengths Finder” assessment (www .strengthsfinder.com).
“Write down your goals every single day and review them every single night,” Miller said.
“I’ve interviewed Olympic gold medalists, founders of multimillion-dollar companies and people who added advanced degrees at the age of 50, and the story is always the same: Write down your goals and visualize them occurring.”
Take one step at a time.
Even the biggest project is really just a series of little ones.
Miller’s clients write down specific accomplishment dates for each step.
“For example, I have been coaching a government worker this year into the job of her dreams, which is living, working and studying in Paris for one year,” she said.
The worker had specific target dates for every step: Jan. 15, a list of schools in Paris was to be completed; March 1, applications to schools will go out; April, an apartment will be rented; May 1, a passport will be acquired.
“She carries around a pocket calendar with these dates in red,” Miller said. “There is no escaping.”
Take a hand.
Professional career coaches and counselors, not surprisingly, often suggest enlisting outside help. But this doesn’t necessarily mean paid help. It could be as simple as sharing your goal with your spouse or best friend, who can help hold you accountable.
“All resolutions are strengthened by having a support system that is aware of your goals, and that can help you brainstorm ways around any obstacles,” Miller said.
“Screen out whiners and naysayers who don’t want you to succeed,” Miller added. “Every time you seek to change your life, you will attract a certain number of people who have no investment in seeing you succeed. …
“Make sure that the people you spend time with and socialize with are positive and encouraging of your job resolutions for change. Every [high achiever] I’ve interviewed says the same thing about people with negative energy: Get them out of your life. They drain you, will cause you to doubt yourself and won’t help you succeed.”
It’s easy to get discouraged when initial efforts yield no results, but don’t let that slow you down.
Barbara LaBier, a résumé writer and career counselor in Washington, D.C., said she often sees people get depressed, especially if they’re out of work.
If they just push through it, though, they eventually get what they want. She said her clients are finding more to be optimistic about, even in a tough job market.
“Things are changing for the better,” she said.