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Setting Life Goals Effectively

Guest Author - Lisa McGrimmon

Setting life goals effectively can ensure that you continue to move forward in life despite setbacks. With that in mind, here's a challenge for you: Instead of letting yourself focus on all of the negative aspects of job loss, challenge yourself to use this time as an opportunity to grow. You might even make this your New Year's resolution.

Determine where you want to go from here and commit to coming out of a career crisis in a better situation that you were in before you lost your job. Here are several tips for setting life goals:

Setting Life Goals
  • Your goals should be positive.

    State your goals as something you are moving toward, not something you are moving away from. For example, instead of saying, "I never want to work for a micromanaging boss again." try, "I value independence, and I will ensure that my next job allows me to work independently." It's much more motivating to work toward a positive goal than to allow yourself to remain focused on past negativity or disappointments.


  • Ensure that your goal is specific.

    If your goal is too vague or general, you won't know when you've actually accomplished your goal. For example, if you goal is, "I will improve my job searching efforts." how will you know if you've accomplished that goal? If, on the other hand, you goal becomes, "By Friday, I will tell five business contacts that I'm job searching and ask them to pass on any job leads they may know about." Then you have a specific goal, and you'll be able to measure whether you accomplished it or not.


  • Challenge yourself

    When you're setting life goals, they should be achievable, but a bit of a stretch. Avoid setting yourself up for failure with goals that are not realistic, but at the same time, challenge yourself just a bit. Set goals that you feel you can achieve but you know you'll have to push yourself a bit to make it happen.


  • Consider short term, medium term and long term goals

    Remember, goals can be short term (I will call five business contacts by the end of the week and let them know I'm job searching) medium term (I will find a rewarding job in my field in the next six months) or long term (I will be financially independent and able to retire when I'm 60). Often it's helpful to establish long term goals first. That way, you can work backwards and ensure that your medium term goals contribute to achieving your long term goals and your short term goals contribute to your medium term goals.

    This strategic approach to goal setting helps to ensure that you are actively moving your life in the direction you choose. Seeing the big picture of achieving your long term goals, can also help you to stay motivated to achieve your smaller goals because you know they are leading to something bigger.


  • Set congruous goals

    That just means that if you set several goals, you should ensure that they are compatible with each other. For example, I recently read a magazine article in which the author detailed her goals for the coming year. Her goals (among others) were to lose 15 pounds and to learn to bake all of the delicious cakes and cookies that her grandmother used to make. Now, this author may have more self control than I have, but for me, losing 15 pounds and becoming and excellent baker are two goals that I could not work on at the same time. I'd be sampling all of my delicious creations, and the goal of learning to bake like grandma would completely sabotage the goal to lose 15 pounds.

    Once you've determined your goals, review them to ensure that they support each other. It's counterproductive to set goals that are not congruous. You'll just be setting yourself up for failure.


  • Know your values

    What are your core values: independence, achievement, security, recognition, freedom, commitment? When there's a discrepancy between your job and your values, you run a high risk of career burnout. So, when you're determining what to do next in your career, consider your values as you set your career goals.


  • There's no denying that job loss presents challenges and stresses, but it's not an insurmountable setback. Setting life goals can help you to gain the focus you need to move forward in a positive direction. Commit to yourself and your goals and you can survive and even thrive after a layoff.
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    Content copyright © 2014 by Lisa McGrimmon. All rights reserved.
    This content was written by Lisa McGrimmon. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Corlia Logsdon for details.

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