Meet Goals and Measure Success With Milestones

The quickest way to fail at meeting your goals is to set the bar too high or to expect too much too quickly.  This is easily avoidable, and success is at your fingertips, if you take a few simple steps to make your goals reachable.

4 Steps to Success

1.  Make a goal or goals that are reachable.  If you overload yourself with goals that are beyond your reach, you will become discouraged.  This does not mean you cannot be a successfully published author making enough money from your royalties to live on, it means you need to start small and work your way up to the bigger goals.

2.  Come up with smaller goals that will lead you to the big ones.  These smaller goals will be easier to reach, and they give you the boost of confidence along the way.  Each time you reach a short-term or a small goal, you will be empowered to continue to work toward the big ones.

3.  Each goal should be broken into even smaller milestones with approximate dates of completion.  This helps you to stay organized, to know what step is next, and to have dates to keep you accountable to your success.

4.  Every time you meet a goal, celebrate.  This is critical because even though you may have more to do to get to the finish line for your larger goals, each goal reached is an accomplishment, and you should be proud of it.  Recognize that there are people in the world who sit back, live life passively, and never really accomplish what they dream of, and there are those who grasp each opportunity to excel.  Meeting each goal is your way of being someone who works hard to excel.

Be proactive, and take steps now to make your life better.  This is not a guarantee that you will have the perfect outcome, but if you plan well and set yourself up for success, you will find your path to reach your dreams.

Determining Your Own Fate!

It is common to fall into the hands of statistics, becoming a martyr, and following a predetermined destiny.  Many individuals look to see how likely those from the lower-income class are to go to college, what the statistic is for women to move from middle management into the executive level, or what the differences are of various cultures, races, and backgrounds when it comes to success later in life.  We can use these numbers to place ourselves into distinct categories.  We can play the game, calculating our likelihood of success at only 20%, therefore, a waste of time to go to college.  Or, we can determine our own fate.

I do not deny that those in lower classes have less access to the same tools and benefits that middle or upper class individuals may have.  This can cause a greater struggle, but I also believe there are those who will fight to rise above. Just as someone in a higher income family may turn to addictions or crime and lose everything.  The determining factor in the end, is choice.  While statistics can provide a great deal of data to help us understand the world better and to figure out what changes to make, there is something deeper that comes from within an individual that determines if they will follow the statistics, or become an outlier.  An outlier stands outside of the norms, and in many cases, this can be a great thing.  For those who are condemned to a life of poverty by statistics, being an outlier changes their life for the better, and can perhaps lead to a better life for their children.

I have been faced with numerous challenges, and I am still struggling through them, but I have pushed hard to get to where I am, and I now hold two degrees.  Degrees that ten years ago, I would have never believed possible for me to attain.  Yet, I have them, and I am now determined to keep moving toward my dreams and to be successful.  I know I will be, and I am an outlier.  I am proud to be an outlier.  I fully believe that people choose their fate.  I see more people complaining about where they are at in their lives on Facebook each day, and I wonder why they are not taking steps to change their life.

A degree can only take someone so far, it is the graduate’s responsibility to prove they have retained the knowledge and can use it in a career.  Someone who wants to write should write each day.  They may not be published, but they are growing by writing regularly.  Writing a blog can be beneficial to someone who needs to stand out for their writing, business, or to showcase photography, travel, food, or art.  There are so many steps people can take to shine, but these opportunities must be grasped, or they slip away.

I challenge everyone to stop letting statistics define their lives and futures.  Each life is an opportunity to make change, to give back, to contribute, and to become something.  Determine what you want your life to be, and go for it.  Confining yourself to the limit of averages does more harm than good.  Be an outlier.  Be the woman who is an executive.  Be the person in poverty that rises above.  Live the life you dream about, then give back.  Encourage someone else to be an outlier too.  It has to begin somewhere. And the glorious ripple that stems from positive change can make all the difference.

Taking on the World Post-Graduation!

The past six years of my life have been dedicated to academics and growth based on education combined with leadership.  I have found my self-confidence grow as I became more knowledgeable about the world and my place within it.  I have led student organizations, attended conferences, found success with my writing, and discovered my strength in public speaking.  I became passionate about advocacy, and learned ways in which I could use my skills to make a difference.  This is what I gained with my education because it was a strong liberal arts education with a focus on creating women leaders.

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Now, I am a graduate.  I was proud to be the 2015 commencement student speaker at Cedar Crest College, and when I walked across the stage, I knew it was symbolic for walking into a new phase in my life.  Graduation is exhilarating, but also an emotional time.  One journey is ending, and this is bittersweet because while endings lead to beginnings, life will never be the same.  A few days later, the realization of that loss is prevalent, and fellow graduates begin new phases of their life, or post panicked comments on Facebook because they do not know where they are going.

I am in the job search mode as many of my friends are, but I know my college provided me with the skills I need to be successful.  That, combined with my confidence and determination, will lead me to a rewarding life.  I know I may start in a position that is not what I hoped, but I also know I may very well find the position that will be rewarding and lead to a career I will be happy with.  This is the roller coaster of post-graduation.  It is the next phase, which requires just as much work and dedication as the previous educational phase, if not more.  It is the time for graduates to prove themselves.

While this can be a time of anxiety and fear, it can also be an exciting adventure and another learning experience in life.  For those fellow graduates out there, those who are searching for their place in the career world, do not forget your worth.  Remember that you worked hard for your degree/s and you should embrace this new challenge just as you embraced the challenges of college.  Be proud of your accomplishments, and bravely put yourself out there.  Be confident and explore what this new path has to offer!

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Don’t Wait For Opportunities, Make Opportunities!

It is easy to conjure up the vivid dreams of a hopeful future, and to play through scenarios of opportunities as they come knocking on your door.  The problem with this, is the complacency that fills your life when these opportunities do not arise.  You may fall into the belief that there are no opportunities out there, accept your life as it is and become comfortable with it, and you may find little self-worth in the process.  The fact is, opportunities are everywhere.  Instead of waiting for them, you have to realize that they are waiting for you.

opportunities

If you do not seek them out, you may never move beyond the basic life you are living.  You have to become a mover.  The kind of person who looks for the needs and wants in their life, and finds ways to fulfill them.  This requires a great deal of determination, and a desire to work as hard as possible to make your dreams come true.  This is not for those who are lazy, or those who with to skim by with mediocrity.  This is what is born from innovators and leaders.  This requires a unique ability to learn from the lessons and the experiences that have made you who you are, and to build on them.

futureNow is the time to make this happen.  Discover the passions you possess, and you will be on your way to determining what will make you happy.  Then, seek it out.  It may require a return to school, a change of jobs, learning new skills, or a change of attitude.  It may require risk, and you will have to decide if the risk is worth taking.  Just remember that each person who created a successful business, designed products, wrote books, or built a successful career, had to work hard to get there.  There is no easy way to true success, it is a road that must be paved with failures, lessons, and tenacity.  Make your opportunities, instead or waiting for them.

Make Time to Read, and You will Be Better Suited to Lead!

Society continues to rapidly change and advance with current technologies, and this has a profound effect on leadership.  As we rely more and more on our devices, picking up snippets of information from various sources, we move further away from reading larger works.  There are many people who rely on daily doses of data in small forms, and never tackle a book on industry analysis, a fiction novel, a biography of a truly accomplished and inspiring individual, or other great works.  This may not seem so bad as the bits of information form wholes eventually, but there are effects that may not be realized until later.

Reading is crucial to a greater understanding of the world around us.  There is magic that happens as we pour over pages full of information, and not just in Harry Potter novels.  This magic is an evolving of ourselves.  An informational book allows us to see a specific area, like business, from another perspective, and to gain valuable insight to the industry in which we work or hope to work.  It helps to provide skills, vocabulary, and a deeper understanding of that particular world.

Biographies and memoirs allow us to see a life, in its entirety, through transformation.  It reminds us of the nature of humanity, and the challenges that erupt for everyone, despite status, race, religion, gender, etc…  It is a chance to see how someone overcomes adversity, and how they build a future on blood, sweat, and tears.  It is an experience in itself because we can connect, even if just through the words that fill each page, with another human being and their journey of existence.  This helps leaders to become more socially adept, and to realize the complexities that make up each life.  This may lead to higher levels of empathy, and compassion.

Fiction stories, the ones that may seem the least valuable to those in a world of business, logic, and facts, may in fact, be the most critical.  The story typically takes the reader on a journey which reaches a conflict or climax, and a resolution.  There are variances, and those novels that change the rules, but there is a need for leaders to get wrapped up in novels with complex conflicts because it requires analytical thought.  Readers naturally attempt to solve the problems, and while the resolution is given, the reader can find other alternatives, and learn to accept the endings they cannot change.  There is also something that must be said of the need for escapism.  As we surround ourselves with an endless stream of facts, news, and critical information, the chance to become a part of another world, involved with fictitious characters, and relax a little, is much needed.

Every leader should create a small amount of reading time each day.  Even if it is just 20 minutes, it is highly beneficial in so many ways.  This is one positive change you can make in your life that will provide you with skills that may be unattainable otherwise.  It leads to creative thinking, social skills, and perhaps the patience that is needed to commit to something longer than 140 characters.   Make time to read, and you will be better suited to lead!

Prioritize Your Life Based on Your Passions!

Prioritizing your life is always a great thing to do.  Everyone should have a plan, and know what their most important values, goals, people, and tasks are.  This can be daunting because people tend to become very analytical about it.  Sometimes, people become overwhelmed by the lists, and this is usually because they do not break goals down into milestones.  It is definitely a task, but it will become more accurate, exciting, and personalized if your life is prioritized based on your passions.  Everything you write on your list as a priority should, in some way, support your passions.

For example, if you are prioritizing your relationships, you would have the people you are most passionate about at the top of your list.  Children, your spouse, your parents, your siblings, and your best friends will most likely be at the top of your list.  If you have a to-do list and a conflict arises between seeing your child perform in a concert, and a team meeting at work, you may run into a problem.  This is when you need to look at what you’re most passionate about.  Is this meeting going to cost your job?  If so, even if your child is a priority, keeping your job supports that child and is probably going to take precedent.  If the meeting is not that important, then going to your child’s concert should be the priority.

This concept applies to many aspects of your life.  From career goals, educational goals, family, morals, values, and religious or cultural beliefs.  Understanding who you are means you know what you are passionate about, and those passions can be prioritized, and decisions can be made based on those priorities.  It will make tough decisions easier for you.  It will help you to reach your goals more quickly, and you will feel good about the choices your are making.  Be organized and prioritized, and you are bound to find yourself happier, more confident, and successful.

Moving From Victim to Victor!

Just about everyone becomes a victim at some point in their life.  In fact, many of us will use the victim role to avoid life, tasks, projects, or work.  There are various reasons for this, depending on the type of victim you have become.  If you were seriously hurt or injured, obviously, it will take a toll on you, but there are too many situations where something trivial occurs and victimhood seems eternal as it is drawn out for weeks.

Examples:

– A co-worker got a promotion that you feel you should have had.

– A paper that you put months of research into has been rejected or received a bad grade.

– Perhaps you have had a rocky road with relationships, and you let this become a failure that seeps into every other aspect of your life.

– You are broke and can’t afford the same things your co-workers have.

– Your car continues to break down and you can’t afford the repairs.

Not that these situations are good, but there is a point where one must move from being the victim to becoming a victor in their life. Everyone has bad moments, we are all wronged, and we all struggle at some point.  The difference is that those people who come out on top do not allow these moments to rule their life.  They deal with it, struggle, and find a way to fix the problem.  It may take years to fix the problem, but dwelling on it without trying to solve it will not get anyone anywhere.

Everyone has the choice of which direction their life will go.  Each challenge can make or break you.  You can choose to be strong, fight the situation, and overcome it, or you can wallow in self-pity.  Be the victor.  Do not let situations keep you from solutions.

5 Steps to Becoming a Genuine and Confident Leader!

There is an assurance of character that comes when we see someone with confidence.  Not the overbearing or arrogant confidence, but the confidence that expresses the belief in oneself that is rooted in a humble person.  This is the type of person we are drawn to, and the kind of person we should be if we choose to lead, manage, advocate, and inspire.  There is a quality of candor that shines from individuals like this because they do their job while remaining true to themselves.

How can you develop this type of confidence?

1.  Experience.  As you have more experience working through challenges, and life overall, you will learn who you are and what you believe.  You have to have a firm understanding of yourself, how the world works, and how you work in the world to get to a true and mature confidence in your abilities.

2.  Listening.  You need to listen to yourself, your needs, and your desires because this is part of what motivates you and defines your goals.  You also need to listen to the people around you.  How do they react to you?  Is there something that you are doing that works well when communicating with others?  Is there something that others do not respond well to?  You must be able to study human response well.

3.  Candor.  You need to be honest with yourself and others about who you are.  People do not want to find out you are artificial, a fraud, or not truly the person you claim to be.  You should be upfront about your goals, your life, you plans, your abilities, your strengths, and your weaknesses.  Sometimes it is hard to admit your weaknesses to others, let alone yourself.  However, if you are going to become strong and inspiring, you must be genuine and honest.

4.  Learn to accept your failures as easily as you accept your successes.  Everyone want to succeed, but you have to fail first.  You have to fail many times, and then some, before you get the type of success you really want.  This means hard work, repetition, analyzing your failures, and moving on.  If you can openly accept your failures, you will find that you will learn from them faster, and you will find success much more quickly.

5.  Be open to advice.  You have to be confident in your abilities, but also recognize that you do not know everything.  You will continue to grow and learn as you lead and inspire.  It is a never ending process, and it will help you to expand.  Learn from others, including the people following you, because those lessons may turn out to be the most fruitful.

Confidence is a truly necessary asset for leadership roles, but make sure you are genuine in your confidence.  Be the person that people admire, not the one who is arrogant.  Admit fault, claim success, and speak candidly.

Leading is Adapting!

To be a leader is to be a performer.  Always in the eyes of others, and always trying to reach various audiences in a way that works for them.  It is something that takes work, and is a never-ending process of learning.

I have found that the various leadership roles I have taken on have enabled me to grow, and that knowledge is something I can carry with me into new roles.  It is also knowledge I can pass on as I am practicing them now.  Every leadership experience is different, and advice may not work in one instance, but it may work very well in another.  As a mentor, I try to express the need to evaluate the leadership role individually and the people involved.  Everyone will react to different leadership roles in varying ways.  To be a leader, one must be able to adapt, to pick up cues, and to realize that failure will happen, but it is merely an opportunity to learn how to succeed.

A leader must be a chameleon, always changing to meet the needs of the environment they are in.  The trick is, they must do this while being true to themselves.  I have worked with many people, and the personality of each individual requires me to adapt to them, to communicate in a way that will help them to realize what my message is.  It can be incredibly difficult at times, and this is why a leader needs to be passionate about their role.  If a leader believes in their message, they will do what they can to convey it appropriately.

If you are a leader and not getting the results you want, you may need to change the methods you are using to fit your audience.  You should always look for ways to improve your abilities, ways to grow, and ways to adapt!

How to Maintain a Positive Attitude Even on an Off Day!

As a leader, you are required to present a positive attitude regularly, even when you are not feeling it.  To lead and inspire others, they need to feel good about who you are.  You have to have charisma, and be someone worth following.  However, you are human, and you are going to have days that are less than perfect.  You are going to have personal problems that bleed into your workday and make you wish you were not held to such a high standard.  But, if you are in this leadership role, you will have to find a way to present a positive attitude that will carry you through the day.

How can you maintain this positive attitude on a regular basis?  The best way is to take measures first thing in the morning that will influence your perspective for the rest of the day.  There are many ways you can do this, and you will have to find what works best for you.  Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1.  Begin your day already prepared.  By making a list of things to do the night before, you have a productive start and a guide to your day.

2.  Decide to be positive when you wake up.  Force yourself to shift all of your negative thoughts to positive ones, and it will help influence the rest of the day.

3.  If you start your day with a shower, imagine any negative energy being washed away, and take on positive energy.

4.  As you get ready in the morning, think about 5 strengths you have and it will help you feel confident in who you are and what capabilities you have.

5.  Surround yourself with positive people if you can, and when you have to be around negative people, try to have a positive impact on them.

6.   While you may not be able to control the world around you, realize that you control your actions and reactions.

These are just some examples, but if you know that a cup of tea, a smoothie, or a protein shake will boost your energy and shift your attitude, make sure this is part of your morning routine.  If a morning jog or walk helps you to clear your mind before tackling the day, get up early enough to fit this into your schedule.  The bottom line is that while you are bound to have a bad day, you can take control, prevent the negativity, or at the least, reduce it.