One Day At A Time by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

It is very natural in times of challenge, chaos, and change to turn into a turtle and hide in your shell. For different people, this may mean different things, from becoming inflexible and stuck to those who try to weather the storm until it passes.

However, staying stuck is sometimes more stressful than trying something new. Setting goals, even small goals, is a way to challenge ourselves to keep growing and developing and to recognize our accomplishments and successes. Celebrating small successes and accomplishments on a daily basis is a great habit to develop in 2021.

Reasonable Goals and Important Considerations

There is a lot of push these days for leaders and teams to set stretch goals. Setting stretch goals in times when the future is unsure is not only tricky, it can also be demoralizing as the chances of reaching those goals seems to slip through your fingers.

A better option would be to set reasonable goals and to plan to evaluate the goals at regular dates throughout the year. For example, building in a three, six, and nine-month evaluation of the goal allows for flexibility and tweaking of the plan.

The quarterly evaluations of the goals also take into account the changes in the economy, the ability for people to move from remote work to office-based workdays, and even changes in meeting and reaching new markets and potential clients and customers.

Short Term Goals

Another option may be to set short-term goals that are mini-steps along the way to a bigger goal. This allows you to create a milestone type of professional development plan that is flexible in uncertain and challenging times.

SMART goals, which are goals that are Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant  and Timebound are a great option for any short-term goals setting plan. The more precise you can be in each of the elements, the more you can celebrate meeting and achieving these goals.

It’s OK to Change

A common mistake in goal setting is to see the goals as if they are written in stone. Things can happen in life, and limiting your ability to make changes to your goals only causes more stress.

It is essential to think about options to achieving a goal and not just pushing everything to the side. Is it possible to extend the timeline, to include additional milestones missed in the original plan, or to look at dividing a big goal into two or more smaller, more manageable goals?

Goals should motivate and focus your personal and professional growth. Once goals start adding to stress, pressure, or frustration, they are no longer useful or helpful. Be flexible, be reasonable, and be willing to consider options in personal and professional growth this year and beyond.