Opportunities to set goals may arise in the form of milestones. Did you recently give your first speech to your organization? That’s a milestone. Did you get your first article published even in a newsletter or small publication? Here’s a brief list of other potential career milestones around which you may find yourself naturally inclined to establish some new goals:
Here are other possible non-career related milestones:
- You receive the largest pay increase in your career history.
- You are appointed by your organization’s top officer to be on a special task force.
- You are elected to be an officer in your professional association or group.
- You are interviewed by a national publication.
- Your biographical information is published in a who’s who directory.
- People start seeking you out and are willing to pay for your professional expertise.
- You are awarded an honorary degree.
- You are asked to sit on the board of directors of a prestigious organization.
- You become Deacon of your church.
- You are asked to be on a special committee supporting your town council.
- Your local newspaper requests your views on a community issue for their opinion page.
- Your child earns a four-year scholarship to college.
- A literary magazine decides to publish your poem.
Accentuate the Positive
Whenever any of the above types of events occur, given the new situation, you may find it fitting and appropriate to establish new goals. A four-year scholarship may mean instead of your son or daughter working that summer before entering college, the whole family can go on an extended vacation.
What’s happened in your life lately that represents a milestone? What’s on the immediate horizon that represents a potential milestone? And — here’s one to to put down the article and ponder — What milestones have passed without you making any goals surrounding them that you can now use to form goals?
Before and After a Mate Change
If you’re in a relationship, particularly a long-term relationship, and it ends, whether your heart is slightly broken or seemingly crushed beyond repair, life moves on. Having your significant other leave you is heavy duty. Divorce is heavy duty. Even if you were the initiator of the breakup, the loss of a significant other can have a profound impact on you.
The impact of death on relationships at the aggregate level is not widely known. At any given time in the United States alone there are some 15 million widowed persons, according to Jarratt Bennett, a certified financial planner in Fairfax, Virginia and author of Making the Money Last.
Many psychologists believe that there are lessons that you need to learn so you attract partners that will help you learn such lessons. Some people believe they are attracted to others who seemingly have what they lack. So, in their quest to be complete, they want a relationship with this person who will complete them.
In either case, until you learn the importance of being a relatively whole and complete individual in and of yourself, you are bound to repeat the same type of relationship mistakes with subsequent partners. Thus, if you’re breaking up with or divorcing your significant other and haven’t learned more about yourself and your needs as a result of your relationship, you run a significant risk of replicating your prior relationship.
Whether you’ve just found someone new or you’re in a long-term relationship, you potentially have the opportunity to view your mate in a new light. Perhaps it’s time to talk about your goals for the coming week, month, year, or five years. There’s a scene in the movie Don Juan Demarco where the character portrayed by Marlon Brando tells his wife, played by Faye Dunaway, “I want to know what your dreams and aspirations are.” Dunaway replies, “I thought you’d never ask.”
If you’re in that in-between time, looking for somebody and not sure when and where he or she will appear, then get clear about your relationship goals.
- What kind of person do you want to meet?
- What level of commitment are you willing to offer?
- What level of sacrifice are you prepared to make?
- In what kind of activities do you want to engage?
- How much energy will you devote to the relationship?
- Will you listen this time?
All of these types of issues can be converted into a goal statement. Take the last one, for example. How might “Will you listen this time?” appear as an established goal statement?
- To listen to my partner for at least 10 uninterrupted minutes at least three times a week during every week of the relationship.
Once you’re in a relationship with someone, if you mean business, and you intend to make it last and to be a better listener, you could share this goal with your partner! Not willing to share? All right, perhaps you’re not as serious about being as good a listener as you had originally thought.
Don’t Wait Until You’re Desperate
People often wait for significant pain until they make significant changes in their relationships. When one partner or the other threatens to leave, then, and sometimes only then, will the other partner agree to make changes.
Changes under duress have a nasty habit of lasting only as long and the duress is present. What’s more, while goals can be imposed on you by someone else, they have to be internalized, i.e., made your own, if they are to be effective.
Let the Seasons Tell You
Here is a simple list of dates and events throughout the year. Each of them represents an opportunity for you to get clearer and more focused about what you want.
Seasonal Opportunities for Setting Goals
- New Year’s, End of tax year
- Presidential birthdays
- Spring approaches
- Daylight savings time, Taxes due
- Spring Cleaning
- Independence Day
- Dog days of summer, Vacations
- Labor Day, Back to School
- Government fiscal year
- Harvest, Thanksgiving Day
- Holidays, Vacations
The climate in which you dwell, the temperature on a daily basis, and the weather outside at the moment can all be contributing factors to the goals that you set. The very term “spring cleaning” arises from the fact that after raising windows closed all winter to keep the cold out, spirits begin to rise with the temperature, and it’s much easier to engage in a thorough cleaning of your home. You can keep windows open and fans on as you transport debris. You can more easily change vacuum cleaner bags when it’s warm outside. You can beat rugs outside. You can more easily clean windows. It’s less treacherous to get up on your roof than it was when ice and wet conditions prevailed.
So, too, at various other times around the year, you may find great incentive to tackle projects which ,at other times, you wouldn’t touch with the proverbial 10-foot pole.
Let Your Age Tell You
Age can be a useful factor for establishing goals. The mere fact that you turned 30 or 40 might be enough of an incentive for you to buckle down and establish some new goals. A birthday ending in zero is a huge event. When you turn 30, 40, 50, or 60 you’ve passed a stage in life you’ll never pass again. What a wonderful time to clear out the old, and bring in the new. These birthdays are used much like people use New Years or the change of a decade as a way in which people spur themselves on to set new goals.
On the Wings of Your Upcoming Age
If it’s been a long-term notion of yours to clear the cellar of all its clutter and convert it into an office, and you’re going to be 40 in three weeks, guess what? If you establish a goal of converting the cellar into an office in the next two weeks, you’re likely to proceed with more energy and focus than you would at some other time. After all, you’ve chosen to finish this before you turn 40.
There are traditional age markers independent of any personal ones you choose to act upon. The age of 16 is, of course, when may people get their automobile license. Others include: age 18, graduating from high school and attaining legality to vote; age 21, attaining the legality to consume alcohol; age 21 or 22, graduating from college; age 24 or 25, graduating from continuing education in graduate school, medical school, or law school. Finally, at age 30 you are, supposedly, no longer to be trusted!
Age 40 has traditionally been a milestone as in the expression “Life begins at 40.” There are so many youthful people in their 40s these days that age 50 is pretty much what 40 used to be. Age 65 is a traditional retirement age. A decade ago, 72 was a predictable life span for the average American man, and age 77 for the average American woman. Now, people are retiring later, living longer, and doing more in their later years. With this in mind, there’s nothing to stop you from setting new goals at age 75, 80, 85, and beyond!
Your first anniversary is a milestone. Each anniversary represents an opportunity to establish new goals. A 25th anniversary is certainly notable, and every five year interval after that is admirable. Fiftieth anniversaries are rare, but you may be among the lucky few.
A 60th, 70th, or 75th (they do happen) will land you mention in a national publication and on your local news, if not on NBC’s nightly weekend report. Use all of these times and more keep establishing what you want in life.
In your lifetime, you will have many opportunities to establish goals. If you feel ready and determined to establish new goals and get on with your life, why not start now? Declare your own “landmark” day!