To get aligned with my personal and career goals after a rocky experience in graduate school, I used my own step-by-step plan. Try it for yourself:
- Get real with yourself: Decide what’s really important to you, then eliminate any noise that gets in the way or distracts you from achieving this goal. Noise could be anything from toxic family members, to toxic friends or coworkers, to a messy, cluttered household, to excessive financial burdens, to keeping up a certain image. If it’s not part of your vision, discard it!
- Take a quick, inexpensive hiatus. Get grounded in nature by using ReserveAmerica to reserve a campsite online. Then GET OUT in nature for some much-needed grounding. Don’t go for glamping- – but bring enough bedding to keep yourself comfortable at night on the cold, hard ground.
- Simplify your life. Focus on simple living – cooking, eating, washing, sleeping, snuggling, managing your belongings, eliminating. Rest your mind and treat your body.
- Practice wellness. Take care of your body – plan time to pamper yourself weekly and put your own needs first. You can’t pour out of an empty cup, so fill yourself up first before attempting to serve others.
- Set up and start using your Google calendar – religiously. Make Google calendar your browser’s homepage. Download the app on your phone too. Update it as soon as changes happen or as you get invited to a new thing with friends or a new obligation that comes up with work. When conflicts arise, you have already set aside the time for what’s most important, and you can more readily say no to those oncoming burdens.
Once you’ve figured out what’s most important to you, set SMART goals – action steps that move you incrementally, positively, and consciously toward your bigger life goal. I wanted to move into the tech industry but was lacking the tech-side expertise even though I was already solid on STEM and humanities skills sets. Map out the SMART goals start to finish.
You might even want to make some SMART goals relevant to your financial path. For me, since I was traveling for an extended period of time on savings, I had to make sure I stayed within my monthly budget. Now I’m moving into a new field and looking into what kind of ballpark salary I can hope to earn.
Even within these larger action steps, I still break it down by month, week and day. These smaller objectives all have time-based limits. If I don’t finish in time, I roll it over to the next day and proceed to the next step or look for extra time at the end of the full period I set aside for work to make sure I get things done. Keeping myself accountable with goals is super-important to staying motivated and positive.
Leave a comment below to tell me about your steps for life design! Maybe there’s something I haven’t thought of that has already worked really well for you!
Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.