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Goal Setting

  • Business Guy on Bed
    For some, a gap year can increase focus and provide perspective that propels them to success.

    “What do you mean, you are taking a gap year?”, said every parent presented with this situation. Once a high school student graduates, they should go straight to college, right? I mean, that is the long-established expectation, isn’t it? But in a 21st century society as complex as ours, is this something we should rethink on some level? Take it from someone who floundered around a bit flowing high school, a little pause can have a financial and directional benefit. Of course, it depends on the lid and the situation, but here are a few thoughts on where there could be some value to a gap year.

    Young People Are Still Discovering Who They Are

    Not every high school graduate has a well developed sense of self when they walk across that stage. Anyone over 30 can tell you that the person they were at 18 was different than the person they were at 21 or 22. One starts a path in college that is different to reverse. Once a student is inside of those courses in their major, there is usually too much time and/or effort invested to turn back.

    A survey by BestColleges revealed that 61% of college graduates would change their majors if they could go back. Also, emerging science about our brain development suggests that most of us don’t really reach full maturity until the age 25. If used properly, a gap year can provide a young person the opportunity to truly explore their “true north” and pursue an education that best aligns with their value set. At the very least, it pushes back the timeline for “mind changing” by a year so that it does not happen a year or two into failing chemistry courses when they would be better suited studying microeconomic theory (perhaps I am projecting here).

    Gap Year to Improve and Refine Work Ethic

    Not every student leaves high school with good study habits and the discipline to balance work with play. And if everything came easy in high school, they could be headed for a rude awakening when asked to cover and take notes on 6 chapters and produce a 5-page written report. Every week. In just 1 class.

    A gap year can be a good time to master study and comprehension techniques, time management, and test taking skills. College freshmen with poor study habits tend to experience difficulties because of a lack of oversight, as there is no longer a teacher or parent holding them to task. In this case, the result tends to be course failures and the loss of 1 or 2 semesters. And guess what? That tuition isn’t refundable, parents. Good use of that gap year can be made by learning when one tends to comprehend material better, scheduling study periods to coincide with those times, and holding oneself to that schedule. Your student can learn to set specific goals to aid in staying focused and monitoring progress. 

    Gap Year Can Provide Real-world Perspective to Classroom Concepts

    If there is one thing that can derail the comprehension of a concept for a college student, it is not knowing that concept’s real-world application. Some exposure to real life can provide an excellent pretext to the concepts that will be learned in the classroom. An article by The IDEA Fund notes: “Relevance is a major component of many motivational models and particularly important if learners’ experiences can be used as a basis for new learning.” It goes on to say: “If prior experience can be connected to new material in a meaningful way, that material can be more clearly understood and more easily learned.” Consequently, your youngster now becomes the de facto expert on real-life situations in the classroom as well.

    Gap Year to Let Them Burn Off the Party Energy – But OFF Your Dime

    Most of you know by the time they cross that high school stage whether you have a party animal on your hands or not. Do you REALLY want to pay for your kid to attend “ragers” and binge drink 4 times per week while posting all “Fs” in their freshman courses? Consider letting them exhaust that energy and get it out of their system. Perhaps they can hold down a job to pay for their own party habits, but that freshman year’s tuition has a better chance of bearing fruit if they are not repeatedly upside down over a keg. According to ValuePenguin.com, the average cost of a public college education in the US is $9,970 for in-state tuition and $25,620 for out-of-state tuition. Save that scratch if you are sure they’re headed for a rocky opening to that collegiate career.

    Conclusion

    Of course, knowing one’s own child is key to whether the gap year works out . You have to be confident you will be able to get them to return, as well as know they will use the time wisely. Some schools even have gap year deferred admission policies that allow students to keep their spots once admitted. A young person can really broaden their horizons by learning a new language, volunteering time overseas, or even earning college credit while studying abroad. Another potential negative to consider is the long-term cost of late work force entry. Graduating one year later means losing the equivalent of that first year’s meaning potential. But if a struggling opening year was in the cards anyway, considering the gap year isn’t a bad idea.

  • Senior leadership
    Perhaps it is time to focus on your ability to “lead” and not just “do”.

    After toiling away in middle management, it seems the next logical step is movement to a senior leadership role. But contrary to popular belief, this is not simply just some next step in the career ladder. The difference in mindset and necessary intangibles between middle management and senior leadership is more like a “jump” than a “step”. Moving into senior management means one’s responsibilities are more on the strategic level than the tactical level. This means that what you deal with daily is more abstract instead of tangible. However, the impact is far more wide-ranging and critical to the organization’s success. If you are looking for the top brass to tap you for a position in a senior leadership role, develop these vital skills to provide the best chance of making the leap.

    Senior Leadership Has Ownership in their DNA

    As of this moment, phrases such as “not my job” or “I’m not responsible for that” can no longer be part of your vocabulary. True leaders take ownership for the situations in which they are involved. When you are in senior leadership, no one is going to want to hear about how inept certain team members are. Nor will they want to hear you complain about timelines or resources. When it comes to their senior leadership, top brass will only want to know if you or did you not achieve objectives. So, if you are looking to make the job, you need to start now. If there is a weakness on your project team, take responsibility for shoring it up. Tight timeline on a report that is due? There is no law that says you must stop working at 5 pm. Being part of senior leadership is about getting the job done, regardless of the hand you are dealt (at least for the successful ones, right).

    Senior Leadership Vision (and the Ability to Communicate It)

    Strong senior leadership does not just follow directions. They blaze trails. A key aspect of blazing a trail is seeing things that are not there. At least not yet. Visionaries see the end game before anything has even been mapped out to achieve it. Leaders of vision conceive of what an organization can become. Characteristics of those with vision include the desire to innovate, willingness to take risks, persistence in the face of resistance, communication skills, and a laser like focus. If you are looking to make that leap, you need to step back and take stock of yourself. Have you learned to dream? And dream big? Have you at least worked on a vision for your own personal development? When it comes to this characteristic, thinking like everyone else is not the ticket.

    Senior Leadership Galvanizes Troops Toward Organizational Mission

    The key word embedded in the phrase senior leadership is the word “lead”. An organization’s mission means nothing if you cannot communicate it and get others on board with moving in the same direction to achieve it. You want to leave? Then you better be able to connect employees with the company’s mission. Top brass will want someone who can motivate, inspire, and focus employee energy and efforts. This can be achieved by setting clear and measurable goals as well as offering regular feedback. It is more than likely in the current position you hold, there are opportunities to show and demonstrate the skill set. Good leaders keep their employees engaged and feeling heard. According to Naz Beheshti, a contributor to ForbesWomen, employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

    Conclusion

    Looking to make that move? Do not wait for someone to notice you. Be vocal about it. Make an impact by showing you are a mentor and a leader. Motivate others to perform their jobs better. Build connections at the leadership level and use them. Work on your skill set and do not be afraid of feedback.

  • help your careerWe are head-long into the meat of an election year. The mud is being slung and the posturing has begun. But did ever consider how this time of year is a great opportunity to help your career management efforts? Whether you are out of a job and looking, holding down a great job, or a business owner, lending a hand to your local (or national) political figures can help you position yourself for success.

    Networking Bonanza

    Make no mistake, no matter how advanced technology gets and how many avenues are developed for finding a job (or a better one), nothing will EVER beat your well-developed and diverse network of contacts. And where better to grow and strengthen that network than within the political sphere? From your fellow volunteers, to campaign contacts of influence and the candidates themselves, it is a veritable cornucopia of fertile relationship development ground. Campaign volunteers should approach this opportunity the same way a young intern would and internship. Keep your eyes, ears, and contact book open for leads that can help your career and long-term professional mission.

    Understanding the Political Process / Business Symbiosis

    When most people see a business open, they never consider all of the things that may have gone into making that possible. Everything that makes up the climate in which that business can flourish (zoning laws, grant money, tax issues, etc.) had its evolution come from the political process. Donating your time in a campaign can give you a better understanding as to what goes into creating a particular business climate that may affect everything from businesses relocating to your town, to potential hiring windows coming down the line. Hey, you may be looking to start your own business one day soon (at least you should be). This is an excellent way to learn the terrain that helps you build one that is viable and sustainable.

    Looks Great on Your Resume (Maybe)

    Okay, how much your campaign involvement will help your career through your resume is not as clear cut. One’s resume writing strategy needs to revolve around keep the reader engaged POSITIVELY. That means avoiding content that can be a turnoff to your reader. If you are supporting a far left candidate through your volunteer efforts, you may have better luck getting your resume past the gatekeepers in a social service non-profit on the west coast than you will an oil and gas company in the deep south. Regardless of the political affiliation, the extent in your involvement in the campaign can communicate to your resume’s reader that you may have inroads to certain rainmaker that can benefit their long-term cause. If this is the case, consider dedicating more than just a one-line blurb. Elaborate a bit on any notable interactions with high profile personalities that can be a conversation starter. Or perhaps you can document involvement in any noteworthy events.Either way, always think about your audience before including this information on your resume.

  • question-markWords have far more power than most of us give them credit for possessing. If this were not true, motivational speakers would not pulls five and six-figure speaking engagements to light the fire under high-powered Corporate executives. But outside of the effect statements can have on you, some of the statements that fall out of our mouths provide a window into the type of person that we are. The bottom line is that there are just some things that successful people do not say because their thought processes won’t allow it. Here are a few of them.

    Why is this happening to me?

    I don’t care who you are, or where you come from. If you are alive long enough in this world, bad things will happen. Period. The natural order of things is in fact disorder. Murphy’s Law is as true today as it ever was. So, why is this happening to you? Because it is. It is a bit self-centered and narcissistic to believe that the universe is out to get you and only you with 7.1 billion people on this planet. I mean, who the heck are you? Winners do not sit around pondering why things having to go. Their only concern is what the hell do I do about it now? The mindset of successful people is to solve the problem not to dwell on it.

    That can’t possibly work

    The inventor of just about everything we use probably had to deal with one or more people in their lives that said this to them. Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, gave us one of the most powerful quotes of our time:

    “Whatever your mind can conceive and believe the mind can achieve regardless of how many times you may have failed in the past.”

    When you are working with the mindset of successful people, you look past the roadblocks and pitfalls to keep your eyes on the goal. Mankind has shown the ability to solve most every problem through the application of sustained thinking. If we can figure out how to take computers from taking up entire rooms to more powerful ones held in your hand, then you can figure out how to land a job. Speaking of jobs …

    That’s not MY job!

    When part of a team, winners realized that the important thing is that the team reaches the goal. It is rare that in any project or enterprise that every single task, duty and contingency is accounted for within the pre-conceived job descriptions. Therefore, for the team to reach its goal, somebody at some point in time will need to roll up their sleeves and do something that is not officially their job. It is THAT person whom we usually find advancing professionally. These type of people see that the important thing if the achievements of the team, and not whining because of one or two extra tasks that they may have to perform.

    I just don’t have the time!

    When a person claims that they do not have the time for important self-improvement activities outside of their standard daily responsibilities, more often than not, it is a matter of perspective. If you work a dead end job and even planning to start your own business, the difference in whether or not you are able to do it depends upon what you are willing to sacrifice. Successful people will sacrifice their social life, television, and even sleep in order to move closer to realizing their goal. There are 24 hours in a day, and most people work no more than 8 to 10 of them. That leaves between 14 and 16 hours to work on your business plan, pursue a new certification, or find a job you like better than the one you currently have. The winner will find one or two hours somewhere in there to get closer to that goal. Winners live the quote “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

    Granted, there can be exceptions depending upon the situation. But by and large, successful people will more often than not find that extra hour, dig for that extra solution, accept responsibility and refuse to dwell on the negative.

    So, which one are you?

  • commitments-for-2016As we kick off the new year, everyone is looking to do better in various areas of their lives. Improving health, improving careers, and improving relationships take center stage as we all try to vault into 2016 positioned for better success. But you know what they say, insanity is defined by doing the same thing and expecting different results. While the specific goals of every individual will vary, the mechanisms for increasing the chances of success in implementing them are usually the same. Here are a few tips to help create an excellent foundation for success.

    Improve Your Personal Organization Strategy

    In my opinion, this is where you set the table. The way in which you are organized and your tools made available to you can increase your efficiency and allow you to get more done in a shorter amount of time. Find a way to utilize integrated tools that work together. This will reduce steps needed to maintain organization across platforms. For example, Google makes available a host of tools that all work together. Their email, contacts, scheduler, documents, and file storage tools all sync up to across your cell phone and computer to make for easy management. When you update a contact on your computer and it automatically syncs with your phone, and also shows you the last few emails transmitted between you and the contact, this is a very powerful tool.

    Strengthen Your Professional Network
    Most professionals do not spend enough time in this area. This is because the best time to nurture your professional network is in fact when you need it the least. There may come a time where you will need to access those in your network to provide a lifeline. But to do this with no good will in the bank will more than likely mean you will come up drive when you need help. This is why it is always a good long term strategy to reach out to those in your professional network to see what you can do for them at a time when you don’t need them. I have a client who wants told me that everything stops for him during a two week period where he does nothing but reach out to his professional network to see what he can offer them. No strings attached. This has resulted for him in a wealth of professionals eager to assist him whenever he needs it. Consider this as building a bridge for future use.

    Add At Least One Skill to Your Skill Set

    Hey, if you are looking to be bumped up in 2016, you cannot end this year with the exact same skill set you had in 2015. Seek out opportunities to expand on what you can offer your employer or future employers. If you employer offers free training, by all means take advantage of it. Are there certifications you can obtain that will make you more marketable? And then go after them. Make the commitment right now to identify one or more areas and you can improve your toolbox, set a date, and make it happen.

    Commit At Least 5 Hours Weekly To Working on Your Long-Term Goals and Dreams

    Remember the phrase earlier regarding doing what you have always done? Working sometimes for drain you, but if you are ever going to get out of the orbits of your old job and achieve that dream of yours, then it will take sometime. There is very likely somewhere your week where you can find + 5 – 7 hours to dedicate toward working on your dream. But do not look for these hours indiscriminately. Schedule them in advance, and do not let anything interfere with that schedule. At the end of the week, you should have those five to seven hours in the bank. Perhaps it is working on a business plan. Or maybe it relates to improving that skill set that was discussed earlier. Regardless of what it is, it is critical that you dedicate time that is top priority in getting this done. So, if you ever want to get away from that horrible 9-to-5 job that is raising your blood pressure, schedule time for your long-term goals and dreams NOW!!!

    Get Your Resume and Cover Letter Ready for Opportunities

    I am a resume writer, so of course you knew this was coming. Good opportunities really announce when they are coming. They are on you, and then they are gone. Never be caught without your resume and cover letter being up to speed. If you have a quality writer, then chances are that their schedule remains busy. You don’t want to be caught trying to get services for an opportunity that ends in a couple of days and your resume writer can’t get to your project in that window. Be proactive when it comes to this and keep that resume current. If you have more than one unrelated potential target, then you need more than one resume at the ready.

    2016 is your year!!!

  • career mentorOnce you decide on a particular career direction, the next thing you will want to do is to begin developing a strategy for making it happen. So you begin to consider any education and training you may need to achieve your career objective, along with conducting research on the industry or profession you will be pursuing, right? But what if you did not have to do this type of leg work? What if the path you are trying to forge has already been traveled? This is where a good career mentor comes in. Finding and engaging a professional who has achieved a level of success in the arena you are seeking can be one of the most important tools in your career arsenal. Here are just a few things that a good career mentor can do for you.

    Career Mentors Help Eliminate Unnecessary Effort

    As we all know, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. When pursuing your chosen profession, there can be dozens of ways to get to the place that you want in your career. But wouldn’t it be nice to avoid the pitfalls, mistakes, and time wasters that delay your progress? Or even worse, take you completely off the path? A career mentor who has traveled the road to get to where you are trying to can provide you with insight as where to focus your efforts. Why take a course that you don’t have to? Or take a job that leads you to a dead end? If you were looking for directions to someone’s home, wouldn’t you want them to tell you where the potholes, dead ends, closed street, and heavily trafficked areas where? A mentor can turn you on to resources that perhaps they wish they accessed when they were coming up.

    Cultivate a Relationship That Leads To A Fertile Professional Network

    If you have just graduated from college, there is a chance that the only people you know attend beer bashes and toga parties. As enjoyable as that may be, these don’t usually do a lot for your career advancement. When you secure a good career mentor, you are also on the verge of accessing a pipeline of like-minded professionals who can lend a helping hand when it comes to securing employment or other opportunities. A good career mentor for you will be someone who is well established within the profession. With years of experience, they will likely have built an extensive network of others just like themselves who are a “speed dial button press” away. When you prove yourself worthy, there is an excellent chance that your mentor will open up their contact list to you. (Now, you must be sure to be on your game before most will do this for you. When they introduce you their reputations are also on the line. But if you are serious about your career, things will eventually fall into place.)

    Career Mentors Can Show You the Ugly Side You Many Not Have Seen

    Have you ever seen a movie trailer so exciting that you could not wait to buy your ticket and see it, only to find that the movie have numerous holes and that the only exciting parts were the trailers you already saw? This can sometimes be the case when it comes to pursuing a career. All of the website and periodicals you’ve accessed can show you all the great aspects of the career. But what about the things that only someone in the profession would know? With any profession, there may be some aspects of it that just will not work for you, but the research you conduct may not reveal it. A career mentor that has been there for 10 to 20 years is liable to have run across every scenario and be able to point out those things that no amount of research will reveal.

    Too many people are fond love the concept of wanting to learn from their mistakes. But be smart people know that the best way to do it is to learn from someone else’s. Committing to a career path can take time and resources that you may not ever be able to repeat. Traveling the road alone leaves you vulnerable to all sorts of mistakes. As you can see, a good career mentor can help you to avoid many of these, while potentially providing a pipeline of contacts to utilize in the future. Along with a great resume and excellent interviewing skills, the career mentor is a must for your tool box.

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