Honestly, I get it. We’re programmed to start everything at the beginning. Schedule a meeting on the hour, start a workout on Monday, set a budget the first of the month. We’ve adopted the mentality that we must also start fresh at the beginning of the year. However, we have our whole life to live. I’m not a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions, but I love the idea of them. So, I set goals for the year - some are easier to obtain, others require work and dedication.
My goal for this post is not to tell you how you should live or plan your life; it’s to help those who have a hard time figuring out how others reach their goals. I will use my life as an example of what I have tried to accomplish each year for the new year - I hope to encourage you on how to grow to be a better you not just for a year, but for this rest of your life.
Get a Mentor
We all have people in our lives that we look up to; a certain individual that will hold us accountable for our actions. It may be a friend, a relative, a coach, or a boss. Mentors are individuals who have walked the same path we are currently walking and can guide and navigate us through a long journey. When tough times occur, where do you look? When you need motivation, who is sitting in your corner? It’s important to have mentors because we all need someone. We all need a coach to instruct, to encourage, to dissect, and to redirect us towards our desired destination.
I have eight different mentors. Yes, you read that right, eight. You may ask, why so many? Well, I have different aspects in my life that I want to get better at, so I have certain individuals to mold me in those specific areas. It’s not that I keep in contact with eight different people every day. No, I have eight people that I can call on at just about any time when I need to regarding different situations. I have a mentor for My Professional life, My Career, My Personal Life, My Spiritual Life, and so on. I’m a person who believes in self-development and growing every day. Megan, our Business Development and Marketing Manager at the office, showed me this video. I watch it from time to time to help remind myself the importance of coaching and being coachable.
You’re a mentor yourself and you may not know it. Somewhere out there, someone is striving to be like you. It may be your kids, someone else’s kids, an intern at work, or a friend. Whoever it is, they see something in you that they admire. So, this year, find out who that someone is or offer to be a mentor to someone. They may need guidance, but don’t know where to find it. So, coach someone and be coachable. We all need help and advice in this walk of life.
Learn Something New
It’s been little over a year since I’ve graduated college and it seems as if the learning is just beginning. Apart from school, life is one big learning experience. Pick up a new skill, whether it be for everyday life or as a hobby. I’m not talking about learning something for a one-time experience and you put it on the back burner, but actually setting time out of your day, focusing on that one activity, and immersing yourself in it.
When I was in school, I made it my goal to learn a new program every year to better myself for my future career - I could most certainly say that it has paid off. Currently, I have been thinking about public speaking and joining a Toast Masters group. Why public speaking? Well, in architecture we communicate a lot with clients and consultants and sometimes to larger groups, and I could really see it being helpful in the future. I’m not the most talkative person, but I did find over the years that when I do talk, people are often engaged in what I have to say. I also found myself in the position where I’ve had to speak in front of total strangers twice this year. The first was for a project I was working on to a group of approximately 30 individuals and the second was at my uncle’s funeral of roughly 200 plus individuals. Talk about being nervous. We all get those butterflies, but once I got in the groove, I was fine. I want to be more comfortable and confident in the future when occasions like these come up again.
So find something that you want to do. It shouldn’t be a task or a chore. Get out and have some fun. Take a friend and make it a bonding opportunity. Build relationships and network.
This is one thing I don’t think people give much thought to when coming up with new years resolutions. Yes, we want to get promoted. Yes, we want a raise. But are you doing the things that lead to those perks? Wait, better question, if you weren’t getting promoted or getting a raise, would that change your attitude towards work? Would you still be doing those little things? Believe it or not, but professional development is a huge aspect in our life that we don’t think about enough.
For instance, we all want good coworkers, but what constitutes a good co-worker? Have you ever asked yourself, am I a good co-worker? You and your coworkers don’t need to be friends. Youl don’t need to always be on the same wavelength. You do need to be able to work together and coexist for the greater good. Coworkers are teammates in the professional world. You’re playing on the same team, have different positions, but all working together for one goal. I’ve played on many teams, and I know a good team when I’m on one. Great teams aren’t perfect. They go through challenging times, they face adversity. What makes them great is the ability to stick together, to trust one another, and to keep pushing forward no matter the obstacle. When someone falls, you pick them up. That’s what makes a great team and a great teammate. Are you that coworker?
Take initiative. It may be a little harder to do when you are newbie on the job, but take on different responsibilities. Don’t just sit back and wait for others to do a task or assignment - YOU volunteer to do it. If you don’t know, use it as a learning opportunity. “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer. “I don’t know, but I’ll try” is a much better response. You’ll begin to find that taking this approach will begin to change your mindset towards your daily task and routines. There is a reason you’re in the position you’re in - you’re good at what you do. Now bump it up a notch. Be great at what you do. The late, great Walter Payton said, “When you’re good at something, you’ll tell everyone. When you’re great at something, they’ll tell you…”. So, stay humble, stay confident, and keep chipping away.
Most importantly, be a leader. You don’t need to be the boss, manager or supervisor to be a leader. You lead by your actions. Hold yourself and other around you accountable. Check up on your coworkers. Are they in a good position to meet their deadline? Do they need help with a program? Or just a simple “How is your day going?”. It’s the simple things that can change the environment at your workplace. Tell them that you appreciate them. Be the light that your office needs to brighten up the day. Below is a video of one of my favorite Ted Talks. Each one of us is a leader in some way or another.
Come up with goals that will grow your professional development. Goals to make you and the people around you better. It could be as simple as getting to work earlier to mentally prepare for the day. It could be starting to study for a Licensure Exam (that one was for me especially). But whatever it is you decide to do, do it whole-heartedly and spread the positivity throughout your office. Remember, “we” before “me”. Let do this thing together.
We are fortunate beyond our imagination. We have shelter, water, food, a great education. Yes, these sound like normal necessities for us but for others, it's far-fetched. Believe it or not, you wouldn’t know the things people go through until you go out and see for yourself. And honestly, it’s not hard to find. I think it’s great to tag along with an organization and volunteer, but you can also do it by yourself.
Every year I find a way to volunteer somehow and some way. Whether it’s money, time, a small gesture, it goes a long way. Whatever is on your heart, you’ll find a way to give. When I was still in school, and money was harder to come by, volunteering my time was one way I gave back. Spending time with the kids at Shriner’s Hospital or reading to kids with Reading Across America was just some of the ways I gave back.
The past few years, I took the initiative of giving Christmas gifts to kids. It’s not that I have much money to give gifts, but I don’t know what it feels like not receiving gifts. To see the smiles on the kids’ faces is enough to want to keep doing it. And it’s not just any gift I find and buy, its gifts that if I was their age, I would want to have. Some I actually think I’ll go back and buy for myself. Yes, I’m still a kid at heart. I love to work with kids. Seeing them interact, learn and grow. It’s amazing. There’s a quote by Frederick Douglass that motivates me when volunteering with kids, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Be there when they are young so that they can have a strong foundation when they grow older.
So, this upcoming year, I encourage you to get involved somehow. There’s never too little or too much you can give. I believe our greatest duty in life is to be of service to others who can’t serve themselves. This can be the young, the old, the disabled. Give with the intention of not receiving.
Oh, and be humble about it. This should go without saying. Don’t feed your ego. You shouldn’t have to announce it; this is a selfless act.
I hope that you’ve gained another perspective on the New Year and the goals to set for yourself. I, too, am still navigating my way through some goals that I want to accomplish. Set goals for yourself that are obtainable, that’s fun, and that others can benefit from. Life is a journey to learn and grow and enjoy. I’m more than excited to see what this new year has in store for us and to see how much we’ve grown from January 1st to December 31st. Keep track of your progress. Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t accomplished anything; there are no deadlines. Stay active, stay positive, and bring a friend along with you on this journey.