By Rose O. Sherman, EdD, RN, FAAN
This past week, I taught a healthcare certificate program. One of the topics that we always discuss is next steps in career planning. It is always interesting to me how some leaders are able to be so much more effective in achieving their career and professional goals than others. Research indicates that many of us begin with good intentions but then don’t follow through. Part of the reason may be a lack of personal commitment but sometimes it is an outcome of mistakes that we make in effective career goal setting. As we begin to think about next steps, it is helpful to remember the adage that “some is not a number and soon is not a time”. Our goals should developed using the SMART format an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Time bound. As an example, many leaders want to improve their public speaking skills and enhance their confidence in this area.
Goal – Move outside my comfort zone by developing my skills at public speaking.
Action Steps –
- Join a Toastmasters Group in my community and attend the sessions.
- Watch 10 highly viewed TED talks to assess best practices in public speaking.
Desired Outcome – Improve my leadership by overcoming my fear of public speaking and presentations.
Target Dates –
- Sign up for a 2018 Toastmasters series by 2/2018.
- Do at least one large audience presentation in my work setting by 5/18.
To be more effective and consistent in achieving your goals, avoid these 5 common mistakes:
1. Not writing your goals down or committing to them publicly – the evidence is strong that once a goal is written down or you make a commitment publicly, the likelihood of you following through is much stronger so take the time to write them down and announce to the world what you plan to do.
2. Establishing too many goals all at once – although it might be tempting to try to make changes in many areas of your life, changing habits can be quite difficult. It is far more effective to choose 2-5 than 10 or more.
3. Not making your goals measurable – all of us know from our professional work that goals need to be measurable yet often don’t practice this in our own lives. If you want to lose weight – specify how much. If you want to do a better job of connecting with your staff, how will you do this and how often.
4. Not setting a timeline – A deadline is one way to create urgency and force yourself to pay attention to what’s important. Without a deadline, there’s little pressure to get it done. It’s easy to procrastinate.
5. Not developing an action plan – You don’t need an elaborate action plan for each goal but you do need to identify the next action, so you can initiate and gain momentum.
Charles Duhigg, an investigative reporter for the New York Times, has written an interesting evidence-based book about how habits are formed and what we can do to change them. Duhigg contends that habits make up 40% of our daily routines, whether at work or at home. What you see in your work environments is in a sense a collection of habits that develop over time. Habits are the brain’s way of saving energy. Yet, not all of our work or personal habits are good habits. If we want to replace bad habits with good habits, we need to be more intentional. A good place to start is to develop more effective goals and avoid the mistakes discussed above.
Read to Lead
Duhigg, C. (2012). The Power of Habit: Why We do What We do in Life and Business. New York: Random House.
© emergingrnleader.com 2017