SELF IMPROVEMENT

It’s Never To Late Too be What You Might Have Been!

Do you find yourself proclaiming, “I’d like to lose some weight; I’d like to take a night school class; or I’d be a great Manager”? If so, congratulations on taking the first step – that of showing interest in changing or improving yourself.

Whether you actually lose the weight, take that class or get hired as a manager depends on moving from interest to commitment, and finally on to action. After all, goals are simply dreams with an action plan.

What do you want, and how badly do you want it? If you’re ready to move from wanting to having, follow these steps to help achieve your goal:

  • 1. Identify the desired change. Think about and then write down what you want to change or improve. Be specific. For example: I will become a Registered Nurse; I will lose 10 pounds; I will graduate from college with a B.S. degree in Business; or, I will become a first line supervisor at my work.
  • 2. Do the research. If you are looking to start or change a career, talk to others in your proposed field. Research the wages, working hours, education and training requirements for the position. Network by telling others about the type of job you are seeking. Volunteer, or talk with someone who does the job you are considering. If uncertain about a career change, talk with a Career Counselor at the One-Stop Career Center or at school.
  • 3. Inventory your current interests, skills and talents. This can help build your confidence and kick-start the change. Consider your current and past work experience, formal training and hobbies. List two or three accomplishments that have brought you the greatest sense of pride. They could be related to school, raising children, sports, coaching or your devotion to living a Godly life. I’ll bet you’ll be impressed when you think about your past accomplishments. If there are life circumstances you need to address before you are free to pursue your goal, turn your attention to resolving these challenges to be free to pursue your desired change. This could include addressing an addiction, earning a high school diploma or tending to another area of your life that could derail your dreams if not addressed.
  • 4. Develop a plan. Identify the steps you must take to achieve your stated goal. Be very specific and focus on one goal at a time. If you have more than one goal, handle them separately with their own action steps. Concentrate on what you must do to achieve the goal, not on what others must do for you. Break the steps down to achievable and manageable steps. For example: I will take one evening class in English (or anatomy or welding, etc.) each semester, beginning Fall, 2008; or, I will lose ½ pound a week for 30 weeks by reducing my portions, not eating after 7:00 pm and exercising for 30 minutes at least three times a week; or, I will obtain a job description for the position I am seeking by this Friday and will create (or update) my resume to demonstrate I have the skills and abilities to perform that job.
  • In some cases you may not know the action steps needed to achieve your goal. Gather as much information as you can by a certain date, and then just get started. The steps will become obvious, once you’ve committed yourself to the change and begun the process.
  • 5. Visualize yourself succeeding. Close your eyes and picture yourself having completed your goal. Experience the joy and pride in having actually accomplished what you may have talked about for years. Place reminders of your goal in places where you will see them. This might be a picture of someone working in your field of study, a picture of a diploma from the school you plan to attend, or an ad for a gym if your goal is to tone up or lose weight. Pictures and written goals will help you maintain focus from morning to night.
  • 6. Develop a timeline. If not already included in step 4 above, identify when you will accomplish each step, and ultimately your stated goal. Create a sense of urgency to help inspire action. Enter your action steps on a calendar, and check off each action step as it is accomplished. In order to see progress, make the action steps small, such as getting a job application or an admission form for college. Check that step off when you get the application, and move on to the next step.
  • 7. Share your plan (selectively). Once you have identified your goal and established your plan, share it with someone or a few people you know will support you. Once you say your goal out loud to others, you create accountability partners. Empower those ‘partners’ to help you achieve your goals by asking about your progress. Be cautious about sharing your goals with those who are more likely to find fault or ridicule than to provide support.
  • 8. Celebrate your success. Share your success with those who add positively to your life. Remember that joy in life comes from the journey. Celebrate life’s challenges and setbacks as opportunities for self-improvement and a chance to become smarter and better equipped for the next challenge.

The most important step in making a change is to take action. Changes in behavior will take at least 40 days. Commit to staying with your plan to the end, and take small and measured steps toward your goal. Keep track of your progress to keep motivated. Now, get started! Otherwise, you’ll be talking about where you want to go two years from now instead of enjoying being there.