By Stephanie Gonzales
We’ve all been there: starting the New Year bright-eyed and on a mission to get fit and eat healthier. But by mid-February, you’ve found yourself parked on the couch, three hours deep into a Netflix binge session with a family-size bag of chips in hand.
Or perhaps you started last semester with every intention of finding an internship, but suddenly it’s summer holidays and you’ve barely updated your resume.
Setting goals and resolutions for the year ahead is a great thing to do, but sticking to them is another story. Here are some of my top tips to help you follow through with your personal and professional goals in 2019…
Set realistic goals
While it’s good to be ambitious, setting realistic goals is important for ensuring that they can be achieved. Goals should stretch you, but they shouldn’t be completely out of reach. If they’re not realistic, they can become overwhelming and cause you to lose motivation altogether.
Let’s say you’d love to work at Google. That’s a great aspiration to have, however expecting to land your first internship there may not be completely realistic if you don’t have much experience on your resume yet. Google’s recruitment processes are known for being highly competitive as well.
Rather than focusing on overwhelming long-term goals, set achievable “micro-goals”. Micro-goals are your long-term goals broken down into mini-milestones. They are everyday tasks that can be completed in order to achieve broader goals. For example, if you’re working towards finding an internship in 2019, your micro-goals might include some of the following:
- Get your resume and cover letter reviewed by UTS Careers by the end of February
- Explore the ActivateUTS website to learn about student clubs, societies and volunteering opportunities to build your experience
- Attend the Careers Fair in March and some industry networking events by June to expand your professional network
- Research some online short courses to further develop your industry/technical skills
As you can see, these types of micro-goals are a lot more specific and achievable but they can still propel you forward towards a bigger goal.
This video on the SMART Goal Setting Technique outlines how to establish achievable goals.
Write them down
Documenting your goals can go a long way in helping you to commit to them. You can type them out, but I’m a firm believer that the physical act of hand writing your goals increases the commitment level (not scientifically proven, just my personal preference).
Once you’ve established realistic goals and timeframes to accomplish them, diarise them in your calendar so you can monitor your progress.
As the year progresses, balancing your studies, work and leisure time can mean that your goals and resolutions fall to the wayside. Try writing your goals on bright Post-it-Notes and sticking them in places you spend time frequently. This can be a nice visual reminder and motivation booster.
Be flexible (but not too flexible)
Things happen, circumstances change and sometimes unexpected life “stuff” can interfere with your plans to achieve your goals.
Maybe you’ve had a tough week at work and you’ve fallen off your exercising routine and had one too many cheat meals. Or maybe you’ve had a rent increase and need to work extra hours at your casual job so it’s not feasible to start for an internship right now.
Instead of cancelling your goals altogether, take time to evaluate and modify goals according to the new circumstances. This might mean re-prioritising, extending timeframes for accomplishing goals or thinking of alternative goals.
For example, if you no longer have capacity to do an internship this semester but you still want to learn about your industry, you might set a goal to conduct informational interviews instead. Informational interviews can be short, one-off conversations with professionals in your field to learn about what they do and get insight into different career paths.
Being flexible also means being open to unanticipated opportunities that present themselves.
In conclusion, achieving goals and keeping resolutions often requires more than sheer willpower. Effective goal setting is a process of planning, monitoring, keeping yourself motivated and being adaptable when needed. As the saying goes “A goal without a plan is just a wish”.
All the best for your goals and pursuits in 2019. Happy New Year!
Stephanie Gonzales is a qualified career development practitioner and experienced recruitment professional. She has a background in graduate recruitment at organisations including Macquarie Group and Morgan Stanley. As a Careers Consultant at UTS, she provides careers education and guidance to university students to enhance their employability skills. She’s passionate about helping students to achieve personal and professional success.
Featured image courtesy of Unsplash