Setting intentions or goals is often a routine exercise of “making New Year’s resolutions” at the beginning of every year. These goals usually resemble checklists that probably include many of the same topics as last year’s list. This year, we encourage you to look at 2016 differently. Spend time getting really clear on the areas you hold in highest priority, and hone in on the difference you intend to make in your life and/or in the community in which you live and work. Setting intentions should not be an annual activity—but rather—a part of your daily routine to stay laser-focused on your direction.
As our team prepared for 2016, we recently reviewed a blog that made an interesting distinction between intentions and goals, which we found compelling:
“The distinction between setting an intention versus setting a goal is that goals can sometimes be in the land of ‘should’ or come from a place of need. Intentions are all about identifying what is our heart’s path. For example, a goal might be framed by such language as: ‘I should lose weight. Eat healthfully. Exercise regularly. Change my career. Take care of myself. And then I’ll feel okay about myself.’
An intention begins with: ‘I really want to make myself a priority this year. Make a difference in the world in a way that feels very important to me. Achieve a new sense of freedom and wholeness. Take care of and embrace my body. Express myself fully in my career. I am worthy of this.’ Notice the impact on your body when you say ‘I want’ versus when you say ‘I should’.”
Be clear not only on specific intentions that you will accomplish over the course of the year, but also on your overall “why” that drives your behavior and the continued development of your personal brand. Personal brand both shapes the way others see you, and sets the tone for the way you manage and see your own life.
Here are some ways we have seen high-performing professionals increase their success in proactively setting and managing their desired intentions.
Develop a Daily Mantra
Make a habit of journaling or documenting your intentions and goals regularly. Whether in a book by your bedside or voice messaging notes into your phone (hands-free, of course) on your morning run or commute, keep your intentions at the top of your mind. According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write them down.
Set Smaller, Manageable Milestones to Drive Your Intention
Sometimes a significant intention can be overwhelming, so break it down into manageable goals. Each small goal you achieve brings you closer to your large, exciting aspiration. But also, for every small goal you achieve, you will become more confident in your ability to achieve greater success.
Let’s use the example from above about setting intention; “I want to express myself fully in my career.” The smaller milestones to achieve this may include taking a training course to improve specific skill sets, setting up informational interviews with peers in similar roles, or joining a networking or educational group in your industry.
We also encourage setting intentions that are a stretch or outside your comfort zone. The saying about not growing if you’re not challenged often holds true. Truly successful people are experienced and adept at taking risk. It’s probably even more accurate to say that successful people pursue opportunities only once they know the limits of the risks they take. Think about this when setting your course for 2016.
Find a Mentor
If you don’t already have one or two, find an experienced colleague who can serve as your mentor. Mentors help nurture your career and can assist in furthering your intentions—they may give advice, make suggestions, increase your access to senior management, and are often good listeners. To find a mentor, first identify your weak areas. Then identify individuals who are strong in these areas, those whose lives you admire. Begin by being friendly, asking advice from time to time, and slowly build your relationship.
Continue to Build Your Personal Brand
In addition to setting intentions for 2016, have a 3 and 5-year plan. If you want an exit strategy for your current career to get into something you’ve always dreamed of doing, make sure that is part of your intention and short-term milestone setting today. Finding ways to produce and deliver value to audiences you deem critical to your success, along with proactively managing your brand online, are two more examples of goals that will further your brand and your overall intentions set in this area.
At Executives Unlimited, we are committed to helping our clients achieve success in their recruitment strategies for 2016. For information about our services, please call us at (866) 957-4466 or contact us online today.