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Friday, April 1, 2011

Post recommendation

Hey everyone - I can't help myself. I read an awesome post and just simply must share it!

Having trouble reaching personal goals? Read this post: Here

The article is a bit simplistic, but probably because he's trying to make it general enough to apply to lots of different situations.

Setting goals and achieving them is something that I'm successful at. I'm an A type personality that enjoys setting goals and then achieving them. There's a downside to this, but that's not what this post is about. :)

Some of my advice for achieving goals is (and some of this echo's what's in the article):

1. Decide on a goal. Sounds simplistic, but I meet lots of people who want change in their life, but don't actually have a goal set that will accomplish that. At first, it might not be about finding something you want to do, but finding something you hate less than what you are currently doing. You can always modify later.

2. Write it down. Write down when you want it accomplished by. Figure out a pathway to the goal and work backwards. This was especially useful for vet school admissions. For admission into Fall 2011, my preperation started the summer of 2009. That's a long time and assumes that you have most of your experience already done! Everything had a deadline and missing a deadline, even 2 years out from matriculation would have made the process infinitely more difficult.

3. Reevaluate often. It won't go to plan, revisit your plan often and revise as necessary, including the completion date of the goal. This was important for goals such as the Tevis, that I had less control over because I was heavily depending on someone else - my horse. I initially planned on doing Tevis in 2007. I didn't actually make my first attempt until 2009. I didn't actually finish until 2010. The only reason I completed at all is because I continually reassed my pathway to the goal along the way.

4. For bigger goals, set littler ones along the way. My big endurance goal was Tevis. My smaller goals along the way, that may or may not lead to Tevis were 1000 miles for myself, 1000 miles for my horse, my first 100 mile completion (whether or not it was Tevis), bronze 100 mile award, first multi day completion etc. The worse your journey is going, the more small victories you need along the way.

5. Put your goals in a visible spot. One thing that has worked well for me is to write them in dry erase markers on my bathroom mirror.

6. Realize that achieving your goal is a matter of everyday choices. If you are having trouble making the "right" small choices on an every day basis, reevaluate your goal and your motivations for meeting that goal. You may need to modify the timeline, modify the goal, or find a different path. I've read in dog training materials that you don't let your dog fail more than twice. After the second failure, you have to assume you didn't prepare your dog properly for the task, and you need to go back and look for the hole, and then try again, or explain it in a different way. I think the same thing applies to your personal goals. Too many failures become a habit. Evaluate your reasons for failing, and then either go back and fill the "hole" with more preperation, or find a different journey to the goal. You can look at my Tevis journey in 2 ways - either as someone that kept trying, even in the face of multiple failures, OR someone that tried many different paths until she found one that worked. I personally prefer the second. I was lucky in vet school as the first path I tried was the right one (the other argument could be that I prepared better for vet school than I did for Tevis, and thus didn't have to go back a second time with more preperation).

7. Don't delibrately set yourself up for failure. Luck is nice, but it can go either way. Make sure you aren't relying too much on the positive side of luck to get your through when you finally get to your big day.

8. Find a mentor. I'm especially bad at this one. I have a tendancy to tried and bulldog my way through things on my own. Hindsight being 20/20 I recognize the value of a mentor AFTER I do it the hard way. However the wrong mentor can make the process harder than no mentor or all, so this is kind of a crap shoot. My biggest advice would be to never place all your eggs in one basket, never stop critically thinking, and reevaluate your goal often to make sure that your current mentor is still the right one for you. It's OK to chose different mentors as you move through the process of attaining your goal. Your mentor doesn't need to be a phyiscal presence in your life either. You can connect to someone through their writing, videos etc. Even better if they respond to your occasional e-mails asking for information or advice.

9. When it's time, face the music. Sooner or later, you must go out and test how close you are to your goal. Don't do a #7 (set yourself up for failure), but at some point it's time to go out and test your mettle. This is where having a #8 (mentor) can be handy and either give you the extra shove out the door, or can say "whoa nelly". This is tricky. A failure at this stage probably means you have a hole in your preperation, or you are following the wrong path to your goal. Multiple failures at this point, means that you need to change mentors or find a mentor.

One quick note about mentors. I learned a neat analogy in my christian life that applies to many things beyond christianity and ties into achieving goals. What was said, was that everyone needs a Paul, Barnabas, and Timothy in their life. Ie - everyone needs a mentor that will guide them, a peer that you can trust your confidences to, and a person that you are sharing your knowledge with and acting as THEIR mentor. I find that having all 3 of these people in my life when I'm trying to achieve a big goal where the chance of failure is high is extremely useful. Chose a mentor that you can trust (remember - they don't have to be physically in your life), chose a friend that is going through the same thing with you and support eachother, and then chose someone that was where you used to be and help them. The path to your goal will be much richer for it.

Actual link is the above hyperlink doesn't work:


  1. I would like to add that a code of ethics should accompany goal-setting. Goals should not be achieved at all costs, despite the fact that there seems to be a high tolerance for doing so in this country. I am speaking generally about goal-setting and achievement.

  2. Good point Val! And one that agree with. I can immediately think of some examples here and one thing that comes to mind is that no gaol (including vet school) is worth the LONGTERM detriment on relationships with my family.

  3. Interesting post. I liked the reference to dog training and giving it two shots before making a change. Makes good sense to me.


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