Career Goals and Stress

When it comes to career success, direction and focus are crucial. But beyond direction, how effective is it to have goals?

Requirements for Effective Goal-Setting

Much has been researched and written about the effectiveness of goal setting.
The findings say that :

 Difficult goals lead to higher performance than easy goals.
 Difficult goals lead to higher performance than “do your best” goals.
 Setting specific goals results in more precise performance than setting “do your best” goals.

Just having the goal is not enough. You must develop a strategy to make it happen. What are the activities you need to perform everyday? Plan those activities, but also stay alert and open to new ways to achieve your goals as they present themselves.

There are three critical requirements that dictate how well goal setting will work:

 Commitment to your goals.
 Periodically reviewing where you stand regarding goal achievement (getting feedback).
 Belief that you can achieve your goals (self-confidence and self-efficacy).

You need to genuinely desire the goals you set. If you don’t like your job and don’t want to be there, then it is difficult to be committed. It’s also crucial that you believe that you can achieve the goals you set for yourself.

Stress and Goal Setting

Goals create striving which results in more stress. So how do you deal with this stress?
Since I am notoriously poor at pacing myself, I created a structure to help me with this process. My plan includes eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, but also not scheduling clients on Fridays. I never work past 8 p.m. I plan vacations and weekends away, and schedule social events with friends at least once per week. Part of my stress management program also involves not over-booking myself with social activities so that I have time to retreat for rest and recuperation.

As I approached graduation from college many years ago, I wrote a poem about goal setting which I titled, “My Brook and I.”

I remember the brook
streaming though the woods;
spending hours around it,
building forts, wiping the mud off me with skunk cabbage.

I remember the brook on sunny days;
Water babbling over stones and rocks, pieces of wood;
making the water ripple the way it did.

I wondered what happened to the brook
traveling away from my yard.
I had a goal for my brook
to flow to the ocean…but then what?