For many years, I have not made new years resolutions. As most people know, despite best intentions, whatever is resolved to be carried out in the new year is usually forgotten about by half way through February, if it even makes it that far! Some people do manage to make fantastic changes borne out of resolutions but for the majority, sticking to new years’ resolutions only seems to last for as long as we think of it as a new year, and how long into the new year are we still saying “Happy New Year”?
Instead, I feel that it is better to set goals for the year ahead. This is something I have done often in adulthood and notice that am most successful when I write out my goals, am specific about what I will achieve and review regularly throughout the year. This has been as important for success in my social care journey as for personal goals. Looking back on my early years in Social Care, I had written goals such as ‘Take time for regular self-care’, ‘Rebuild confidence through supervision’ and ‘Research and complete a challenging behaviour course’.
Of course, things don’t always go to plan with goals, sometimes life gets in the way and I notice that during my busiest years with childrearing and working full time as a manager, I did not think about personal or career goals often with the goals of the roles I had dictating what I was moving towards. One of my busiest years was 2015: a new role as a residential coordinator and PIC of four designated centres, preparing for HIQA registration inspections, completing a college course in management and living in a building site at home due to building an extension. Top that with a toddler who hadn’t slept through the night since she was born and you can see why goal planning was not to the forefront of my mind! Despite not having written goals for the year, a lot was achieved including more space at home, a career move and educational achievement.
I have created a list of long-term goals from a vision of what I want my future to look like. This list includes both personal and professional goals such as where I want to live in the future, my lifestyle in the next 10, 20 years and after I retire as well as where I want to be professionally in the next 5, 10 & 20 years. I use this vision to decide on medium and short-term goals. These medium and short-term goals lead me in the direction of my vision and these are what I plan for at the start of each year. The clearer this vision is, the more precise each goal can be.
Once goals are chosen and written down, the next step is to break them down into bite sized pieces and plan what is needed to achieve each piece. For example, you might decide that you want to work with a particular area such as homelessness but do not know where to start. Your plan might be to research homeless services in your area, connect with others working in the field and perhaps learn more about the sector by reading national publications or policies about the sector. You may wish to volunteer or try work experience or agency work in the sector to get a better idea of whether you would be well suited to the sector. Prepare to be flexible; some parts of the plan might not work out and need to be altered but your goal will remain.
Think about what your vision for the future is, what you need to make it a reality and start working on it. Ask yourself the following questions:
What is my vision for the future? Personally, Professionally.
What steps do I need to take to make my vision a reality?
What resources do I need to make my vision a reality? (Education, finance, contacts, experience)
What can I do in the next year to move towards my vision?
What can I do in the next 6 months, 1 month, week, tomorrow, now to move towards my vision?
What’s stopping me & how can I get past it?