Planning on Reaching Goals

Attaining goals requires more than wishful thinking. If I want to get to Memphis, I can set off in that general direction and wander around in hopes that one day I’ll make it there, or I can plan.

The first step is to identify goals. This requires some thought and specificity. A goal that simply says, “I want to be happy,” “I want to be successful,” or “I want to be financially stable,”  while understandable, is too vague to be helpful. What will it take for you to be happy? What is success for you? In the academic arena success if often measured by attaining tenure. But even “I want to make tenure” is too vague of a goal. What does it take to make tenure? For many it requires (1) excellence in teaching, (2) service to school and profession, and (3) Scholarly research and publication. These serve better as goals and it gives some framework – one goal, “success” has become three specific goals, each of which can lead to a specific plan for attainment. There are specific ways to measure and improve teaching excellence. Service to school and profession can be accomplished in specific ways, and so on.  So to achieve each of these components of the tenure goal, we can

  1. Make a list of the component parts necessary to meet the component part of the goal. What are the school’s specific requirements for teaching, publication and service.
  2. Record essential time requirements on your calendar. Record not just the dates on which you need to have accomplished the goal, but also the dates on which each essential component must be accomplished.
  3. Make a plan for accomplishing each component on your list. If necessary, break these tasks down into smaller components with their own plan. Again, a plan is more than a vague statement of intent such as, “I will study hard.” What specific acts constitute “studying hard?” What time needs to be allocated to each one of those tasks, in what order should they be done, what materials are needed, what other people must be involved (even if their involvement is simply that I have to see they are taken care of first, e.g., hungry kids.)
  4. Record the date on which you must START each part of your plan in order to complete it on time. Build in time for the unexpected.
  5. Establish reminders for each for each start and end date. It’s not enough to mark the calendar. We all need “ticklers” to remind us as we go along. In fact, we sometimes become complacent about deadlines because they are on the calendar. 
  6. Review your entire calendar and integrate the new plan into the overall management of your life. Look at events before, during and after the deadline.  If the new event will chew up time you had planned to use completing a task for meeting another deadline, you may need to change one or both plans.
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  • Bill Statsky says:

    Enjoy your blog. Very informative. And I just got your book.

  • R. E. Mongue says:

    Thanks, Bill. I hope the book is helpful. I’d like to hear your comments through email when you’ve finished reading it. I’m working on The Empowered Paralegal Approach to Elder Law and “The Empowered Paralegal Professionalism Anthology,” so comments from readers would be helpful in improving these books.

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