Setting goals is something at which I have never been great. I use goals as motivation for development, whether personally or professionally, and goal setting is very personalized and informal. I have rarely kept a list of goals anywhere except in my memory (an exception being this post), and I set goals randomly throughout the year. Right now, my goal list looks something like this, in no particular order
- Learn to cook more meals
- Learn to play the guitar
- Focus on job searching
- Improve communication with friends/colleagues
I enjoy living and working in the moment, yet also understanding what needs to happen within the next weeks and months. Having a grasp on “deadlines” for future tasks or ambitions has allowed me to focus on the most immediate elements of my day, like work, schoolwork, and free time (which generally consists of cooking meals, de-stressing from the day, and communicating with family and friends).
However, I’ve noticed that this mindset, while great for small, important tasks, leaves other goals of mine out of the picture. Personal development was meant to be a priority of mine for 2015, but I can already see myself slacking on my goals of learning how to cook better meals and play the guitar, as well as exercise more. More work-related long term goals are easier to meet, but personal and professional development fall behind everything else.
As a second-year graduate student, I wonder if this is the case for all graduate students. I have the tendency to be comfortable with putting in extra hours at work on a busy week or when I know I am needed. My natural instinct is to be okay with late Hall Government meetings and being flexible for my students at late hours or on the weekend if they need me. I separate from work when I need to do so, but I am willingly “available” most times because I know that life is not a 9 AM – 5 PM job. While this mentality of mine will not completely change, I realize that it could be a major reason why my personal and professional development are de-prioritized and do not occur.
In order to achieve my goals, I need to be a little selfish and be okay with it. Fulfilling my personal and professional goals will require focus and little distraction, just like my everyday work life. Separating from work and school and taking adequate time to focus on “ME” and my goals will allow for the growth I desire. Whether or not you (the reader) need to share your goals with others as a means of being held accountable, I think that the most important element in achieving goals is this: recognizing that accomplishing personal goals takes just as much focus, willpower, and (sometimes) priority that we put into our day jobs.
Please share your thoughts below!