February 5, 2019

Goal Setting and Time Management, Why It Matters © Cici Mattiuzzi

Goals are set by us or they are set for us. In the early stages of life goals are set by parents and teachers. Later we set them for ourselves. You have actually been setting goals since you were very young. Walking, talking... Climbing up to get a cookie. Learning to ride a two wheeler. Learning to skateboard. Learning to ski. Mastering the latest computer game. Building a computer.

In 1943, Psychologist Abraham Maslow introduced a theory of human development and motivation based on a hierarchy of universal human needs. “Maslow’s Hierarchy” is typically illustrated as a pyramid with five tiers, representing - in ascending order - five essential requirements for a satisfying life.

The two bottom tiers describe our physiological needs. First, we need food, clothing, shelter and sleep, and then secondly, we seek safety and security. When those necessities are secured, we can turn to our higher psychological needs. The third tier describes our need for affiliation, belongingness and sustained relationships. At the fourth level, we express our psychological need for purpose, accomplishment and self-esteem. Maslow believed that when physical and emotional needs are satisfied, people become capable of achieving their full potential and meeting the need for self-fulfillment and what he called “self-actualization.”

The goals we set for ourselves center around the major areas of our lives and in many ways correspond to Maslow’s Hierarchy. It is about our desire for growth, attainment or self-actualization in one or more areas of our lives: Physical Health & Fitness | Emotional Well Being | Relationships | Career Stability & Growth | Life Enhancing Experiences

Setting goals for yourself is about making decisions about where you want to be in life now. People often say- someday I want to lose weight, paint, travel, get married … fill in the blank… But someday never comes unless you make goals and develop a plan. This life has a beginning, a middle and an end. It does not go on forever. There are milestones to be met at critical ages and junctures. You have to decide exactly what you want to see happen in your life - what changes you would like - what accomplishments you would like to achieve. It is about finding purpose - deciding what direction you want to go in with your life and what you would like to accomplish. When people make New Year’s resolutions they are seeking change. They want something new or they want to change themselves or they want something to change in their lives.

Attaining your goals is about embracing change, managing your time wisely and effectively, and taking action. Making a significant change in your life is difficult, and very often it is a lot of work. Change requires sustained effort - requiring drive, discipline and determination. The bigger the goal the greater the effort and the more time it will take to achieve.

Change is one of the hardest things in life because people become comfortable with what is and fear what is unknown and unpredictable. Change means letting go of what is and embracing things or places or activities that are new, different, and challenging.

Change also requires motivation. No goal is reached without motivation. Motivation is the driving force for change. Motivation to lose weight, exercise more, finish a degree, get a license, start a relationship, maintain or repair a relationship, find a job, quit a job, find a new job, change careers, start a business, get married, buy a house, have a family, … a spouse, a house, a mouse… these are just a few of the goals that people set for themselves.

People change jobs every 3 to 5 years according to the US Department of Labor. Sometimes change is driven by political, or economic change - a change in government, a recession, layoffs, corporate downsizing or merger. Change can also be self-driven… It takes about 3 years to get bored with your job. The first year is all about learning new things; a new culture; and where the bathroom and minefields are. The second year is about growth - refining your knowledge, skills and performance. The third year is about taking on increased responsibility and finding a path to a promotion and scoping out your next move.

As a career counselor I learned very fast that no one does the work to make a big career change or leaves their employer without motivation… unless they are dissatisfied, unhappy, unchallenged or bored... (boredom is the absolute kiss of death for techies… It is barely tolerable for anyone else). Bad bosses, nasty coworkers, bad working conditions, ridiculously long hours, oppressively long commutes are the things that can make a job seriously intolerable and sabotage your future. Why? People who are unhappy or unchallenged are less likely to do well. I like to work with people who are highly motivated to make change because they are much more likely to follow through.

Successful people set goals for themselves ever 3 to 6 months. Why - because change is inevitable and desirable. You might as well embrace change and develop a plan of where you want to go with your life before someone else does it for you.

Here are the steps to take to gain control of your life:

List your goals and set your priorities - A, B, C Goals. Delete non-A goals! (they will surface on your next 3-6-month list if they are important enough). Next, take your A1 goal and make a list of the tasks you must complete to make it happen.

Develop a plan with a timeline. Your plan is your dream of how life will be if you take control of your time and your life and decide that you want to move forward on your goals. Once you have outlined your plan, decide how you will accomplish the goal with a timeline of milestones you will meet by certain dates. For example, if getting a professional license is on your list of goals you will need to meet deadlines: register for the exam, register for prep classes, post the exam on your calendar, set up a study group to review the material, join professional organizations, network with professionals in your field, get a job/career working in an environment that allows you to accumulate qualifying hours, etc.

Get organized! Make a “to do” list of the things you need to accomplish at the beginning of each week. Break things into manageable tasks and activities and mark each task with how long it will take - 5 min vs 5 hours. Look for gifts of time where someone shows up late or not at all – or something changes or is cancelled. Then use the time. Don’t waste it. You can do something that fits the time available because you have a “to do” list with time required. If you only have 10 minutes make a quick call or send a quick email that moves your A1 ahead. Work around your busy schedule to find time to move your A1 goal forward.

Schedule your time! Time management is required for achieving your goals. Make a 24 hour clock and
slice it up into a pie with labels on what is set. Everyone has 24 hours in a day. Everyone has discretionary time. That is the time you are not sleeping, not at work, taking care of your kids, not in class, or studying, – time you control. Use your discretionary time wisely by planning ahead and scheduling important tasks that move your A goals forward.

Don’t waste your time! Time is ticking on your A goals. There is an "expiration date" timer that is ticking. At every stage in life you have things that must be accomplished… crawling, walking, talking, grammar school, high school, college, internship, career, house, spouse, mouse, project, exercise plan, promotion, travel...

Are you getting what you want out of life? What should you be doing right now?