With a new year upon us, it is easy to get swept up in lofty resolutions we make year after year. We get overwhelmed when we have so many goals in front of us, yet hopeful with the prospect of a clean slate when the clock strikes midnight.. With those goals, we also have to have a plan in place in order to see forward movement on those goals. Imagine deciding that you want to go on a trip with your family, yet you do nothing in advance to prepare for the trip. On the first day of travel, you begin driving aimlessly, unsure of your destination or where you will end up. This will likely result in a lot of wasted time and money as well as endless amounts of frustration because no preparations were made in advance.
Before we know it, we will be halfway through 2019, wondering where the time has gone. In order to avoid looking back on the year is disbelief and disappointment, much like an unplanned vacation, begin to set your expectations now and make a plan in order to reach your goals. You can do that by:
Visualizing what you want. Ashley Rifkin of Talk of Monmouth advanced club finished her HPL project back in April. She taught a mindfulness workshop, asking attendees what they desired in life. The usual answers came up-a house, a car, or a job promotion. In turn, Ashley asked why that is what they wanted. The why is typically what helps us be able to see what we want more clearly. Most Toastmasters have the end goal of earning a DTM, but why do you want that? For me, I want to become better about displaying quality leadership and communication as well as time management, which means achieving a difficult goal in a short period. Right now, that goal is not a DTM, but to earn the triple crown working in both Pathways and traditional learning programs. I visualized delivering speeches that would allow me to present on the things I’m passionate about and connect with my audience. That meant completing the projects in my advanced manuals as well as the ones in my chosen path. The Triple Crown-achieving three educational awards in one Toastmasters year-is an excellent way to execute the speeches I want to focus on while still giving myself a concrete deadline to meet for better time management. Your goals won’t always look the same as your neighbor’s.
Breaking down your goals in small increments. Once I knew what I wanted, I made a detailed plan. I gave myself a timeline so I could be mindful of how frequently I should be speaking and when I should begin to plan for my larger leadership projects. For example, I am a member of two clubs and in 2019, I am aiming to deliver one speech per month. In addition, I have a timeline detailing when I plan to complete each level or educational achievement. This is especially important if your goal is particularly time sensitive. One resource that helped me plan was District 17’s website with all of the paths and projects listed, courtesy of Bill Atkins of Talk of Monmouth: https://toastmastersd17.org/resources/pathways/paths-projects/. While I don’t expect to earn my DTM until 2022, just knowing what my goal is for this year, this quarter, or even this month, makes it all the more realistic and exciting to think about. This leads me to my last point.
Be realistic. One speech per month is realistic for me with my lifestyle, the number of clubs I am part of, and factoring in all of my other commitments. For you, you may want to aim for one speech every two to three months. As long as you have a plan in place and can see the finish line (even if it is 5-6 years from now!), you know what you have to do to move one step closer with every role you sign up for. The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they are often declared without any preparation or consideration of what is doable given the season in your life. If you just had a child, are going through a divorce, or have recently taken on more responsibilities at work, be kind to yourself and be realistic about what you can do. The best part of your 2019 plan is that it can be adjusted at any time as needed.
As you begin to think about your goals and plans for 2019, jot them down and write out some bullet points on how you will execute them. In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
Happy New Year, District 83!