Goal Setting: Possible Dreams

27 09 2011

“Goals in writing are dreams with deadlines.” – Brian Tracy

Goals:  We all have them.  Some are set by us, while others are set by someone else.  For me, a personal goal is to train and run a marathon by the end of 2012.  I have a training plan that will get me there. I know what I have to do, and with the support of my family, friends and coworkers, I know I’ll achieve my goal.  I’ve learned over the years that if you don’t put your goals down on paper, they will always be “someday” goals.  You know, “I’ll achieve them someday…”  Why not give yourself a deadline to make it happen?

In our professional lives, goals may be more straightforward and clear.  You may be responsible for increasing sales, attendance, participation, etc.  If it moves, it can be measured.  But what if it doesn’t actually come down to numbers?  Can you produce outcomes when there really aren’t any hard numbers to evaluate?  Sure you can.  Here are a couple of tips:

Talk to your supervisor about difficult goals.  My boss has a great saying.  “Set goals that are inspirational, yet achievable.”  If you have no chance of achieving the goals, then maybe you should bring them down a bit.  Don’t settle for easy.  Instead, land in between.  Inspirational, yet achievable.

Keep moving the needle.  Look at what you can measure.  Even if it’s something like an increase of actual results reported, it’s better than nothing.

On the flip-side, what happens when there’s a year without goals or performance reviews?  Here is a great tip given to me from a former boss:

Hold yourself accountable.  Set your own goals, keeping in mind that they should be inspirational, yet achievable.  Suggest goals to your boss, with an outlined plan of action to achieve them.  Make sure there are deadlines in the action plan.

Plan to exceed your goals.  In my organization, we always set “stretch” goals to keep us focused on the prize.  In doing this, not only do we achieve the primary goal, but most times you can exceed it.  This is just like a marathon.  If you train by only running 10-15 miles maximum for your long run, you can probably cross the finish line.  You may have to drag yourself across, but you’ll finish.  Why not train to run farther so a marathon seems like it’s over before you know it?  Get past the wall and exceed your goal.  Don’t just settle for “good” when you can be great.

I hope these tips are useful for you in your life and career.  You hold the power to achieve your goals.  With the right support network, deadlines and training or action plan, you can do anything.

Any tips or tricks for goal setting?  Leave them in the comments area!  I really do appreciate your insight and feedback.  As always, thanks for reading.

If you’re interested in following my journey as I train for my first half-marathon and eventually, marathon, please visit my running blog, Run Because.  You can also follow my running activity on Twitter: @runbcuz.  Thanks for all your support along the way.  It’s been a great experience so far.

Update: 2012 brought many successes, including 2 half marathons, my best-ever 5K, and my first full marathon (26.2mi.)  I finished the full marathon in 4hrs 38min 56sec.  Not bad for a beginner!  On to the next goal…


What Do You Want? Ask for It!

20 09 2011

This was published a few months ago on another site.  It’s still relevant, so I’d like to share the full post with you here.  Enjoy!

This weekend, my wife and I visited the nearest Red Box movie rental machine for some relaxing entertainment options. You see, we had just finished a landscaping project that ended up being a LOT bigger than originally planned and we were utterly exhausted. We ultimately agreed on the movie, How Do You Know with Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson and Jack Nicholson. Chick-flick by definition, the movie had several things going including love, heartache, fear (not the Freddie Krueger type of fear, but still scary) and more. I won’t give up the plot or any of the good parts for you. You’ll have to rent it yourself.

There was one poignant quote in the middle of the film that stuck with me. “Find out what you want in life and learn how to ask for it” was the advice given by a psychiatrist, played by Tony Shalhoub. He was asked that if he could give any general advice to anybody what it would be. This really hit home for me. I got to thinking, “how does this apply to my life? How does it apply to job seekers?” You see, even on the weekends, I’m thinking about how I can help job seekers be successful. My brain never fully goes into relax mode (unless I’m on a cruise in the Caribbean with a nice cold beverage in my hand…) The job search is scary and the two points above are things that seem simple, yet are the hardest things to accomplish.

Find out what you want. This is hard. Seriously. Finding out what you want in life takes some trial and error. As long as you learn from your mistakes, you’ll find what you want. This could certainly be your career, but also applies to your significant other, family, friends, etc. What makes you happy? Does your job have the “happiness factor”? Do you find reward and purpose in doing what you do? Now, keep in mind that not every job has the happiness factor and for some, it may not be the reason to take the job. We all understand that bills need to be paid; families need to be supported and so on. Happiness takes time – don’t rush it. Take a step back and let the universe do its work (you do have to help some, though.) Work towards your goal and keep your eye on the prize! When you know what you want, life can be a lot easier.

Learn how to ask for it. Ok, so you’ve found out what you want in life. How do you ask for it? The first reaction to this is one of “shouldn’t I be able to get what I want if I work hard enough?” Possibly, but what if you actually ask for the things you want in life? Let’s face it; most people aren’t mind-readers. Here’s a great example: You’ve worked hard all year long at your job, exceeding everyone’s expectations, making deadlines, and providing high-quality results for your company. It’s now time for your yearly performance appraisal and you’ve just been given the opportunity to provide feedback or comments to your boss. You ask for a raise. Your results speak for themselves. The happy ending? You get that raise. Why? Because you asked for it (and proved that you were worth it.) You asked for what you wanted. That raise not only helps morale, it will also help your family and better your standard of living.

Like I said earlier, these are two very tough things to accomplish. Some people spend their entire lives seeking happiness. Others find it quickly and spend the rest of their lives helping others find their calling. Take baby steps, learn along the way, and continue to use that learning to get closer to your goal! Now, are you ready to find what you want in life? Don’t forget to ask for it! Go knock ‘em dead!

Photo credit: MarcandAngel.com

Maximizing Social Media in the Job Search

13 09 2011

Photo courtesy of Social Media 123

A growing number of hiring managers are looking at how social media sites can help them find qualified employees. As the job market changes and becomes more competitive, it’s important to know how to utilize as many different job-seeking strategies as you can.  Social media is a great place to network, promote yourself and search for positions that are the best match for you.  The following suggestions may give you an advantage as you begin or continue your career search.

  • Be aware that employers are frequently using social media to post positions.  Through social media, they are able to target the specific kind of employee they’re looking for.  As a job seeker, take advantage of this type of networking as you search for new career opportunities.
  •  Include relevant professional information in your social media profiles. This will boost your chances of being noticed by potential employers in your field of interest and expertise.
  • Use as many social media sites as you can to market yourself.  The more you use, the higher your chances are of finding a job.  Facebook is popular among college students, but LinkedIn and Twitter can be just as helpful in your job search.

How Facebook can Help You Find a Job

Take advantage of some of the Facebook applications available for job searching.  Search for career apps using the Facebook search box and then add some of these to target your specific needs.

  • BranchOut incorporates your LinkedIn profile to Facebook, allowing you and your friends to view each other’s professional experience.
  • BeKnown allows you to search through Monster.com’s job listings while you are logged in to Facebook.
  • The CareerBuilder app on Facebook sends you notifications of positions that match the job criteria you designate.
  • IngBoo is an app that lets you search for specific job criteria across a larger number of job sites like Monster, CareerBuilder and Simply Hired.
  • Use Hire My Friend to promote your fellow job-seeking friends.  When they use it, too, you can attract the attention of potential employers in your friends’ network, making this app a mutually beneficial one.
  • Inside Job is yet another career app that can help you network by providing a place for you to upload your resume, research companies and search for available positions.

Job Hunting with LinkedIn

  • Once you create your account, put in the time and effort to build a diverse professional network and create a strong profile.
  • Use very specific keywords, making it easier for you to locate potential employers.
  • Regularly follow companies that interest you so you remain current on their job openings and familiar with the organization’s information.
  • In addition to researching companies, seek out the individuals who do the hiring within the company.  By building a relationship with the hiring manager, you can find out about any new opportunities that present themselves and thus increase your chances of landing a job.

Don’t be shy about joining as many groups as possible and sending your qualifications out into the world.  In the blink of an eye, social media has become one of the most effective job searching tools available today, so it’s time to start taking advantage of it!

This article was sent in by University Alliance and submitted on behalf of Villanova University’s online programs. Villanova offers an online human resources degree program in addition to HR certification courses. For more information please visit http://www.villanovau.com

Teamwork According to The Smurfs

6 09 2011

This summer the little blue guys came to the big screen.  No, I’m not talking about Blue Man Group.  I’m talking about the Smurfs!  I remember watching the television show as a kid, thinking to myself, “Why won’t Gargamel leave the poor guys alone?”  You see, Gargamel was the evil genius (or so he thought) that was always devising a plan to capture the Smurfs.  His plan, much like that of Wile E. Coyote, always fell short.  Ah, memories…to be a kid again, right?

The Smurfs were generally named by personality or their profession.  Each person had a particular part to play in the village.  When it all comes down to it, each Smurf was held accountable to pull their weight as part of the team.  Let’s break it down by the first dozen:

  • Papa Smurf – He’s the leader.  All the Smurfs come to Papa Smurf for his sage advice.  His mentorship helps them make the right decision or reflect on the ones that didn’t go as planned.
  • Brainy Smurf – He’s the brains.  He’s also the know-it-all of the operation.  Do you know someone like this? 
  • Baker Smurf – Baker’s job in the village is to bake.  That’s it.  But, he’s the best at what he does.  I’d love to have one of those Smurf berry cupcakes!
  • Clumsy Smurf – Clumsy is just that…clumsy.  But he’s also a pretty sensitive guy.  Just because he’s always tripping over his feet or falling out of his chair doesn’t mean it’s okay to laugh at him.  I’m accident-prone, so falling down, tripping, or even completely wiping out is part of who I am.  People typically can find humor in their actions, but when someone else laughs in their face, it hurts more than falling down. 
  • Greedy Smurf – The name is a bit misleading.  If you have a something sweet, like a cupcake from Baker Smurf, you can get Greedy to do just about anything.  It’s always about the reward.  What gets your team going?  Is there a reward that is motivating you to achieve your goal?
  • Handy Smurf – This guy can fix anything.  He’s the MacGuyver of the Smurf kingdom.  There’s always a project for Handy.  All he needs is some duct tape, a paperclip and dental floss.  Know anyone like this?  J
  • Smurfette – She’s the only girl in the village (until later in the series), taking care of animals and flowers as well as being the love interest in the story.  Smurfette brings happiness wherever she goes, spreading good cheer like it’s going out of style.  She’s a team player, always willing to help.  Do you have someone like Smurfette on your team? 
  • Jokey Smurf – He loves pranks.  Sometimes, a little too much.  When his classic prank, an exploding gift box, goes off, he really tries the patience of his fellow Smurfs.  That’s just the personality of Jokey, though. 
  • Farmer Smurf – Like his name implies, Farmer Smurf is responsible for growing all the food for the village.  He’s also known for his “golly-gee” attitude.  Farmer just wants to help, and like his fellow Smurfs, he’s pretty dang good at his job. 
  • Barber Smurf – Barber has his work cut out for him (pun intended.)  You see, there were only a few Smurfs, including Papa, Smurfette and a couple of others, who actually had hair.  He made the best of it.  He didn’t give up just because he had limitations.  Even if everyone was bald, I bet Barber Smurf would think of a way to help his fellow Smurf.  Do you know someone like this?
  • Lazy Smurf – Every team, every village has one.  Lazy can usually be found sleeping under a mushroom.  He has a gift.  That gift is the ability to sleep anywhere, anytime, in any situation.  His attitude is mellow and there’s not a lot that bothers Lazy.  He’s still a team player…just a little laid back.
  • Grouchy Smurf – Whatever the idea, Grouchy was against it.  No matter how good it was, Grouchy opposed.  He has a heart of gold, though.  It’s deep down, but still there.  Is Grouchy on your team?
  • Gargamel – Okay, he wasn’t a Smurf.  He was the guy that kept the Smurfs running for their lives.  I think he could be seen as a change agent.  When he attacked, the Smurfs had to think on their feet, reacting quickly.  The Smurfs could never be too careful.

So, I may have gotten a little off-topic, but here’s where I was heading with all of this.  Each person on the team has a specific role.  Each team member brings a different level of skill and has specialties in different areas.  If we each went our own direction with these skills, we wouldn’t get very far.  By combining our skills, effort and collective intelligence, we can achieve our goals effectively and more efficiently.  Working together, a team can literally achieve anything they set out to do.  Don’t be the lone Smurf.  What Smurf are you most like??

I hope you found this post useful and fun.  I had fun writing it!  Here’s a little trivia challenge for you:  I mentioned Smurfette wasn’t the only girl on the show.  Do you know who the other one was?

Leave me a comment – I’d love to hear from you.  As always, thanks for reading!