Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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You may enjoy reading through our past posts which give you lots of ideas for getting organized and goal setting.

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Karina, Beth, Stephanie
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Friday, November 22, 2013

Goal Setting Part 9: The What If of Goal Setting

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Last time, I spent time talking about the “which” of goal setting as it related to identifying which obstacles might keep you from attaining the goal you have set.  This is all part of looking at the entire process of working towards our goals.  Once you’ve identified what obstacles you might face, then you want to create possible solutions to fall back on, should those obstacles arise.

In project management, this would be similar to risk planning. How much time you spend here depends on the probability that the obstacle will arise, as well as the impact it will have if it does arise.  If there’s a high probability that you’ll run into the obstacle you’ve identified, then you will want to give greater consideration to planning a solution for it.  Let’s say that you want to take a web design class.  You’ve never studied anything like this subject before, and you’re concerned that there will be material that you just don’t understand.  If that’s the case, then you might begin to consider your options.  You want to spend time now, not just thinking about the solution, but putting the pieces of it together. That way, when you’re in the middle of the journey, you don’t have to stop and try to figure it things out in the heat of the battle or worse, under the stress of last minute damage control. 

In this case, before you sign up for the class, you could do a number of different things.  First, you could try to convince your friend who designs websites for a living to commit to helping you with coursework when and if you get stuck. Second, you could ask the school for a list of appropriate tutors who work with students studying that curriculum. Then, you could call a couple of them ahead of time to find out availability, fees, and any other pertinent information.  Third, you could ask your instructor to recommend a few helpful books or reference materials that you could read prior to the beginning of your class to help you prepare.  Fourth, you could get with someone else who’s already taken the class and ask that person his opinion on the level of difficulty of the material.  That person could possibly work with you on the material that you might struggle with, or he might know someone else that could help you out if you get stuck.  In this situation, another solution would to take some type of preliminary or prerequisite course before attending the actual web design course you listed as your goal.

When you start to examine possible solutions to an obstacle you think you’ll face, you’re on the way to setting yourself up for success, not failure.  You will be more confident because you already have solutions in play. You will feel more “in control” of your situation because you’ve thought through it on a deeper level.  When you feel like you’re in control, you naturally feel more confident.  Think about this proactive process… it’s just like making sure you have the car gassed up and the oil changed before you begin a long road trip.  The point is to buy your AAA membership before you even put the key in the ignition! - Stephanie Baker


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Thursday, November 14, 2013

Goal Setting Part 7: The "Which" of Goal Setting

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Last time I talked about planning to acquire resources you need to complete your goal.  Equally important is discussing which obstacles that you may run into along the way to successful achievement of said goal.

When you try anything new, the biggest obstacle to your own achievement is ….well…uhm…er…YOU.  Let’s start there.  You are the person trying to integrate a new behavior change into your routine.  Your own brain, however, is wired against your attempts to change anything.  When we do something repeatedly, it becomes a habit (like eating whatever you want whenever you want and not caring about the choice involved). Over time, your brain develops a “memory” of that behavior habit and when you try to change it or alter it in any way, your brain fights that.  You may be successful a time or two, but then the old habit starts winning over the new one and you’re right back where you started. 

To break an old habit, you need to repeat the new pattern many times over.  Eventually, the old “memory” that’s associated with that old behavior habit will be overwritten by the new memory that you’ve now associated with the new behavior habit.  It’s a lot more scientific than I’m getting here, but for purposes of this blog – let’s try to keep it simple.  I think it’s important that  I address the fact that this is going on in any attempt to change an existing behavior to something new.  When you address that it’s just “not in your makeup,” you’re not giving yourself an excuse to fail, but rather you’re giving yourself greater power to succeed in spite of that challenge.  As a side note here, exercise actually helps you in this entire process – whatever the new behavior habit is that you’re trying to implement, exercising helps your brain in building the new “memory” that’s associated with it through something called neurogenesis.

There are other obstacles that you may run into along the way to reaching this new goal. It’s important that you look at your past performance to determine if there is anything there to give you a clue to what you may face again that could derail you. What has happened in the past that’s kept you from being successful in reaching goals?  How did you handle it?  Were you effective in dealing with that particular obstacle(s)?  What didn’t work in your effort to overcome it?  How might you approach this obstacle(s) differently this time with a more successful outcome?

It’s always helpful to run the idea of potential obstacles past other people who know you and support your efforts to reach your goals. You might be surprised to hear what others see in and around you that you may have missed.  Once you’ve identified the things that can (and have) pull you off course, work out strategies to deal with them should they happen.  Everyone is better with a plan.  It’s typically the unexpected thing that arises – the thing we didn’t think about and have no plan on how to deal with – that keeps us from staying on the forward track to achieve our goals.  To be forewarned is to be forearmed.  Essentially, this is the process of “risk planning/management,” for the goal seeker.

-Stephanie Baker


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