Setting Life Goals: Personally and Professionally

Dear Sista Friend,

Since my 23rd birthday is approaching, I made a list of “23 Things to Do While I’m 23” (cliché, I know).  But this exercise was actually helpful in discovering what I have accomplished and where I can grow from here. It helped me put things in perspective. My list made me realize that for a 22 year-old, I’m not as much of an unorganized mess as I thought. While making my list I realized that it is important to sit down each year and figure out where I want to go from here.

It took me a few days to complete my list, because I had to think about the things I wanted to accomplish personally, professionally, financially, etc. Once I figured out what I wanted, I had to think about what can actually be accomplished in a year. While working on my list, I was reminded of a few things that every twentysomething should keep in mind.

Everyone has to start somewhere.

“Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.” — Sandra Day O’Connor

We didn’t go to college just to answer phones and return emails – but we all have to start somewhere. Don’t become discouraged with where you are. Continue to make strides to progress to the next level. Only you can make the most of where you are now. And remember, it’s just a start.

Make goals that are realistic.

“Part of the issue of achievement is to be able to set realistic goals, but that’s one of the hardest things to do because you don’t always know exactly where you’re going, and you shouldn’t.”            — George Lucas

When I tell others about my successes since college, I down play them. Since I’ve graduated, I’ve found a full-time job in my field and been able to provide for myself. That is more than what a lot of college graduates can say. My successes were mediocre to me, because the goals I had for myself were unrealistic. Who do you know that is working their dream job at 22? Who do you know that is making fantastic money at 22? I didn’t feel like I had accomplished anything. Make sure to avoid cliché goals like, “fall in love” or “become a better me”. Instead, choose to become more active in the dating world or improve your organizational skills. Set goals that can actually be accomplished within the year. Having unobtainable goals cheats yourself from the opportunity to celebrate the progress that you have made.

It’s okay to try new things.

“We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” –Walt Disney

One of my greatest fears (and roadblocks) is my unwillingness to try new things (this mostly applies to my professional life). I’m interested in a wide range of jobs, but I’m afraid of leaving my salary and my parking spot. I’ll never be able to grow, if I don’t step out and give myself room to flourish. I would hate to still be in the same position ten years from now wishing that I had taken a chance on a job or moved to another city. It’s all about taking risks and not being afraid of the consequences, negative or positive. This is the best way to learn your strengths and weaknesses, as well as, what you love and what you hate. It’s the best way to find yourself.

What’s for you, is for you.

I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”  — Bruce Lee

I’m not going to lie, sometimes I can be a little envious of my fellow Sista Friends. I wish that I had a career that allowed me to travel, that paid better, that I enjoyed. But I have to remember, what’s for them, is for them. What’s for me, is for me. My dream job is out there, I just have to follow my own path to find it. The energy that you spend admiring everyone else’s successes, is energy that you can spend working on your own. Celebrate the successes of your fellow Sista Friends, but don’t let their successes stop you from seeking yours.

Things take time.

“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” — Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Whether you’re wanting a new job, wanting to go back to school, or wanting to move, all of these things take time. They don’t happen overnight. Even if you don’t accomplish everything on your list, you have begun laying the foundation for improvement. It may not be tomorrow, next week, or next month, but the seeds you’re planting will grow.

I challenge you to make a list of things you want to accomplish each year and continue to challenge yourself to meet the expectations that you have set.

Your Sista Friend,

Arielle Woodmore

meArielle Woodmore is a native of Nashville, TN.  She graduated in May 2014 from Middle Tennessee State University with a degree in Political Science and Economics.  She is currently a Legislative Assistant for the Tennessee House of Representatives.

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