Tag Archives: career goals

You Must Have A Vision❣

I remember when I first relocated to the US with my baby girl. I had a clear #vision of the life I wanted for us.
So, I casted a vision of me working in a university setting or government organization that would give me flexibility, stability and a set schedule to care for my daughter, as we settled.
👉 I wanted my new  opportunity to provide an environment for me to grow and develop &add value .
👉I wanted work life balance to have time to  take my daughter to the playground in the evenings &church on the weekends.
❌I didn’t want a job that required travel, or night/ weekends.
❌I didn’t want the hustle & bustle of city life.
Sounds like a clear& perfect vision  right?

🎯Well, prior to our big move,  I  researched the area I was moving to, roles that were a fit for my educational background & professional experience & started applying for #jobs. By the time I moved, I knew where the Arlington Employment Center was, their schedule and services & hit the ground running.

😔 I would love do tell you that I found a job that fit my vision quickly and things turned out as planned.But one month became two, three , four & eventually six…
I went to the center 5 days a week, applied up to 10 jobs a day, attended workshops on everything from #interviewskills, #resumewriting#networking, #jobfairs   etc. And still no job.
There were many interviews & second interviews and applications that sunk to the bottom of sinkholes of applicant tracking systems.
I grew anxious, worried,  doubtful of my vision and  whether I had made the right decision to move to the USA. I also struggled with the opinions & suggestions of friends and family about what I should be doing, jobs I should apply to and even suggestions to move again.

🙏But I held on to my vision and pushed on.  By month 6, the job offers came trickling in,  but none that matched my vision exactly. The job I eventually accepted landed me in a limited term role working as administrative assistant at Fairfax County Government . The role was not commensurate with my background and experience but it brought me closer to my vision. I reckoned a foot in the door was all I needed.

😀Now 9+ yrs later- the vision has been realized.

🎯So what am I saying here :
*Having a clear vision doesnt mean things will go as you hoped or planned.
*Preparedness does not equal automatic success .
*Detours dont equal failure.
*Acheiving your vision  will require perseverance.
* You can accept counsel but you have to ignore the noise
* And most importantly, your vision must be clear, simple and easy to communicate  to help you get the support you will need.

Over to you- do you have a vision for this stage or chapter for your life? How are you pushing past the obstacles to stay on track?

Until next time, Remember,ItsALearningLife !


#visioncasting  #careerdevelopment #careerstrategy #careerstory #opportunity #success  #personalgrowth #selfleadership #professionaldevelopment #experience #lifelessons  #itsalearninglife4real

How to Set SMART Goals & Make Dreams Happen!

SMART  Acronym-Image
SMART Acronym

A goal is a dream with a deadline.”

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Did you know that 1/3 of new year resolutions do not make it beyond January, let alone the middle of year? Even with the best of intentions to improve health, finances, make career moves, year after year, many people abandon their goals and plans by the end of February. There are many reasons to explain why some people fail to stick with their goals and execute their plans for personal and professional success. But perhaps the first and most important reason is that, they were not clear about their goals, the why behind them, what would be involved and the difference it would make if they achieved them. So, they put off their goals for another year or time and sometimes never get back to them.  Another reason for abandoned goals and plans is that some people get overwhelmed by the challenges of juggling competing priorities, managing their resources, or struggling to distinguish between the urgent and important. And others simply find it difficult to think long term and plan for their future.

So why is this problematic?

In my last post, I talked about the importance of effective time management and life management as keys to help us live meaningful and successful lives. And I know that some people see setting goals as a waste of time since we cannot control every aspect of our lives. But even though it is possible to achieve some of our objectives without setting SMART goals, the process will be a lot harder and longer than it needs to be. People who fail to set clear goals and plans are more likely to miss out on life changing opportunities, be disorganized, stressed, frustrated, and experience a lack of progress in both their personal and professional lives. If you are feeling stuck with where you are compared to where you hoped to be or find yourself wondering why others are crushing their goals while yours are crushing you, setting smarter goals might help you move forward.

How to Set SMART Goals?

SMART is an acronym used to explain a simple and effective approach to goal setting for your personal life and professional career. For me, setting SMART goals has been the game changer that has helped me navigate life ups and downs and stay focused on achieving my long- and short-term objectives. Whether it was the dream of travelling and seeing the world, migrating to the USA, homeownership, finances, education, professional growth, overall well-being, to all the things that fit into my “big picture” for my life, setting SMART goals have been crucial.

The setting SMART goals approach advocates that you make every goal you set for yourself –specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound as described below:

  • Specific: Here the focus is to ensure that your goal is clear and practical and answers questions such as what, why, who and where. For example, saying you want to visit Europe would be a vague goal since it fails to provide clarity to those key questions. To make your travel goal to Europe more concrete, you would need to need to pinpoint the exact city or cities in Europe that you plan to visit. In my case, I planned and executed a wonderful trip to London and Paris for my 40th birthday celebrations in 2019. While I have always loved travelling and have been fascinated with travelling to Europe since my early teenager years (when I spent too much time reading romance novels), I could not visit all the places I wanted to on that trip. So, I did my research and narrowed my birthday trip to two cities (London and Paris) for 12 days.
  • Measurable: This is where you have to give careful thought and attention to assessing your progress in meeting that meaningful goal. After I decided on London and Paris, I then had to set clear deadlines for when I would book my flight, plan my accommodations and transportation for moving between the two countries (and getting around each city), develop an itinerary for activities since I was travelling by myself and set a budget for how much money I would need for the trip. As a single mom, I also had to think about childcare arrangements for my daughter during my absence as well as appropriate coverage for my work team while I was away on leave. To keep focused and track the progress I was making, I also had to pay attention to documents I needed to have when the important  activities were finalized (confirmed reservations and tickets etc.)
  • Achievable: Biting off more than you can chew is the easiest and surest way to sabotage a goal. Always be careful to consider whether your goal is realistic and achievable or if the time is right. While I wanted to see more the two cities, time and money were huge determinants of where I went and the duration of the trip. Planning to do more than those two cities could have become burdensome and easily sabotaged my ability to achieve my goal. So I planned that next time around, my goal is to take my daughter along with me and spend up to three weeks touring Italy and Spain. And again, that trip will also require SMART goal planning.
  •  Relevant: Does the goal really matter? Is your goal aligned to your plan for your life? These are questions you will need to ask yourself when setting SMART goals. If the goal is important to you, you are more likely to stick with it. I decided to go to Europe for my 40th birthday one year before the actual trip. I shared the idea with a few friends and family members and invited them to join me. As the deadline for booking flights came, the two persons who had said they would join me declined because the timing no longer worked for them. I was forced to consider if I would postpone the trip or go alone. I decided to go alone as my milestone birthday was too important to me and for me to not do it.
  • Timebound: As the saying goes, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Your SMART goal needs a target date. Give your goals a better chance for success by coming up with realistic timelines. I came up with the 12-day visit by looking at the places I wanted to visit in London, and the sights I wanted to see in Paris. I also had to build in travel time between the two countries and down time so that I would not feel stressed on the trip. Planning a clear itinerary helped me to relax and put things in place to make my trip enjoyable.

By using the SMART approach to setting this goal, my birthday found me waking up in Paris, spending the morning taking selfies with Mona Lisa at the Louvre Museum, touring The Eiffel Tower just before lunch and dining on the Seine River with a four-course meal while being serenaded by my French waiter and other passengers on the cruise. My trip was all I hoped it would be and more and I returned home safely.

Over to you, what is one goal that you have been stalling on or have abandoned? Now is the time for you to revisit that goal or think of a new one and seize the day to action it. If you can see it, you can achieve. Give the SMART goal setting approach a try and get ready to celebrate your next achievement.

Until next time, Remember, It’s A Learning Life!

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To Be or Not To Be?

“To be, or not to be, that is the question”— William Shakespeare’s , Hamlet

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The answer lies with you. Yes, you- the  one making the decision. 7 days a week, 4 weeks a month, 12 months a year, or every minute of the day, we make decisions, big  and small about our relationships, families, careers, finances, health and even entertainment. The  approach used to make these decisions might be influenced by one’s personality, personal philosophy and/or  unique situation at a point in time. For some of us, the process is  quick, easy and decisive, while for others it might be slow, tough and painful. Regardless of who you are, making decisions can be a challenging and intimidating experience, for with every decision comes, responsibility, consequences, and sometimes risks. Alas, that’s the nature of decision-making and  decisions are a fact of life.

“History never reveals its alternatives.”

imagesWhen we make decisions, we make choices. Choices that we will have to live with, and sometimes can’t even change. And for every decision  we make, there is another we didn’t make. And, that same decision made  typically, sets off a course of events  that will change the trajectory of our lives in ways that we probably can’t fully see or understand at the time. As for that other decision left at the table, there will be other options unexplored, opportunities lost or a  range of possibilities we will perhaps never know. But, we take comfort in the fact  that, given all the variables, our decision was the best decision to make at that point, given our circumstances, priorities, emotions and the information we had  at the time. Then again, “hindsight is 20/20” and with the passage of time, we are often prone to reflect on our decisions, rethink them or regret them.

I fancy myself good at making decisions and I don’t have any regrets about anything in my life (personally or professionally). I reckon that, if I thought about something and made a decision to pursue a course of action/path, and was fully conscious and well when I did so, then I would accept the outcomes of same, however they manifested themselves-success, failure, happiness, joy, sadness, pain. But, this is not the case for a lot of people. I have often heard colleagues, friends and family bemoan and express regrets about decisions that, they have made in their personal and professional lives. Upon deeper probing, they would always reveal that their decisions were influenced by considerations about their current obligations, circumstances, fear of the unknown, uncertainty about future risks and/or the insecurities they had at the time.

imagesCAUFVU8HFor me, the decision that  has made me wonder – what if?, was a job I turned down just after completing graduate school. Having studied Government at university  with an emphasis on International Relations and Public Administration, a job in diplomacy would have been a dream come true or so I thought at the time. So of course, I submitted my job application to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Sometime after, a long time after, I was invited to come in for an exam. I did the exam and left it hoping I did well enough but  was not overly concerned about it. Some three months after, I got a follow-up call inviting me to attend a panel interview.

I thought about declining the interview because, by now, the process had stretched out for a nearly a year, and I was 3 months into a new job. A job that paid well, reflected another interest and passion of mine, and provided that I could secure the independence I needed at that point of my life. Nonetheless, not one to leave anything unexplored, I accepted the interview and participated. Not long after, I was made an offer to join the ranks of the Foreign Service. You can only imagine how elated I was. Think status, prestige, international exposure, ambassador for country at large. But, all of that was before I learnt more about the nuances of roles, understood how the service worked, the salary and the entire package. But, truthfully, the worse part of it was that my dream job offer would require that I uproot again, start all over with  a significantly less compensation package, than  the one  my current job afforded me.

imagesCACLG7IISo, now I was in a quandary. Here I had an offer for my “dream job” in the nation’s capital, but it “didn’t pay”. Accepting the offer would totally eliminate any possibility of me having any independence for the next couple of years, and would not allow me to meet my financial obligations. On the other hand, I had a great job with a good company doing something I liked, a new apartment, the means to take care of me and urgent obligations (student loan). I asked my friends, family and mentors to weigh in, and even had a heart to heart with the Director for HR at the organization.She was open, and ever so gracious and kind. In the end, the decision was mine to make and mine to live with.

I guess you can figure out what I decided. I declined the offer and was told that I could reach out again should I rethink my decision. Though I never regretted that decision, every so often, as I reflect on the successes I achieved in my career as I know it, I would wonder what could have been, and how my life might have been different. After all, our decisions usually result in opportunity costs that we can’t always calculate. Does any of this mean that I gave up on a goal? Or that my analysis of the all the variables involved at the time was flawed? Or that I neglected the big picture and choose short-term goals over long-term ones? No, not to my mind- it doesn’t.

imagesCAFUSECXNothing about our lives(personal and professional) are entirely linear. Things have a way of coming full circle. Our decisions and choices have a way of creating diversions, opening up new worlds or restricting us the familiar, the certain and  the safe. Some call it fate, others destiny…or even karma. But that’s the nature of decisions. You will never know  what could have, should have, would  have been- for history won’t ever tell us what would have happened, had we decided otherwise.

So in essence, some decisions are easier, more comfortable, less risker than others, and can even lead us towards good and satisfying lives. But they may not always be our best choices. Once in a while, the circumstances in our lives, the places where we find ourselves, might require us to take the plunge, launch out into the deep, and stretch ourselves in areas and ways we never thought we could and still don’t even know we can. This is by no means advocating that we break off unhappy relationships, leave frustrating/dead-end jobs, give up pension plans and start-up your own new business. But sometimes, we may just have to. And in so doing, we redefine ourselves, embrace new, exciting  and rewarding experiences and find/ rediscover happiness in our lives.

images6So while decision can be daunting, we should never shy away from making them. Instead, we should try as best as possible to make them for the right reason, with much care, weighing what your heart and mind inclines you to do. For though we might seek and receive good counsel from others, it’s our lives, our responsibility, our decisions and we will have to live with them- come what may.

Images Courtesy of Google.

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Just Do It……..Do It Now!

imagesX97HBCNRThe new year is here and January is running fast. You’ve made some New Year resolutions  which are either fading into the deeper recesses of your mind or are in full gear. Whichever the case, I’m with you for I have been there  and done that.

Writing a blog has been on my  ” To  Do List ”  since 2011 when I first came across the concept, along with developing an online portfolio, shedding 10 pounds and the list goes on.But for whatever reason, life happens, I’ve never started and none of my friends have kept me accountable though I’ve said  I would. To be fair though, they have repeatedly told me  that they are patiently waiting for my memoirs/autobiography for believe me , I like you and so many others have  STORIES  to tell.

Anyways, back to the point, I’ve finally published my blog- It’s A Learning Life -Lessons in the Journey Towards Personal & Professional Development http://itsalearninglife.wordpress.com.  And trust me, you’d never believe the amount of time and effort it took  to get started . Hats off to the  established Bloggers out there, I  now have a greater appreciation for what you do and the courage it takes to just put yourself out there.

But I’ve resolved, my blog’s debut isn’t perfect, it doesn’t have to be . In fact, the content, style and format of my blog may change and evolve as I do- and I’m ok with that. It simply reflects my first step, my best effort at this time, and my commitment to meet one of my personal and professional goals for 2014. So  if you like me  have  been putting off a goal or project for some area(s) of your life – personal, career, education, financial, health , spiritual etc., my advice to you  would be to – just  do it. Start, neither  you   nor your efforts  have to be perfect,  your focus may shift a bit, you may slip up but stay the course and do it.

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Wherever you are in your  journey, whatever the situation, the  level you’re at, go ahead  and find your list of “things to do for 2014” and start. If you don’t have one, it’s not too late  to go make one,  you’re even entitled to dream, but right after you read, comment, like and share.

What are your goals for 2014? Please share, I’d like to hear from you.

TNB

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