"Bethany, you have to remember that the days are long..."
Earlier this week, I sat down for a life chat that made me really dig deep and think hard about where I am and what I'm doing with all of my time and energy--something that I think we all need every now and then. I mean, when you really think about it we all have the same number of hours in the days, even though some seem longer than others, so how do we make sure we're taking advantage of these hours and not just letting time pass by?
One of the best ways to spend our time is by striving to make ourselves better. We would all agree that personal development and improvement is something we want, so what can we do to actually get there? (Brace yourself, the answer is going to come as a shock...) By setting goals! It's cheesy, I know, but bear with me. I know we're driven to set goals (especially SMART ones) on a pretty regular basis during different class activities, professional development events, or leadership-based workshops, but, for the most part, we aren't really using them effectively. It's easy to jot down a few small actions when we're sitting in a workshop and prompted to write down "three goals for the coming semester" but if we can shift our perspective just a little bit, we can set some goals that will really help us to get to where we want to be. Start by jotting down the answers to these questions:
- What kind of person do I imagine as the best version of myself? (Get descriptive with this one! Do you want to be a strong leader? Noticeably kind and caring? More knowledgeable and well-read?)
- What skill set(s) would be a part of this? (Great presentation skills? Empathy and listening skills? An understanding of current events or issues?)
- What goals do I need to set to develop these skills? (This is where the rubber meets the road. These goals can be as big or small as you want, just think how they can build on each other to get you where you want to be. Maybe this means setting a goal of giving a speech to a coach or mentor to receive feedback at least twice a month, writing a heartfelt card to someone who needs it once a week, or reading the top five news stories everyday.
"...the days are long, but the years are short"
The end of this piece of advice may be the most important. Yes, it's hard to pack more into our already busy schedules, especially something that doesn't have any real deadline like the goals we just made. But here's the deal: time is flying by. Confession time...I still write the date as 2012 on my papers everyday, because seriously, what happened to the time? If we become so caught up in what we're doing that we forget to make the time to make ourselves better, we will never become the person we imagine ourselves being or have the skills that we value most.
So, set goals. Smash them. Be stronger. Be better. Show people who you are. Never apologize for being awesome. And when you need a little motivation to keep going, come back here and either reevaluate the goals you've set or just take a look at this incredibly inspiring cat poster: