Goals for a New Year

The new year is coming. Looking back over the year, what have you checked off as achievements, both personal and professional?

Looking back over 2012, I can say that I have lived in three different places, settled into what I hope will be my new home for awhile, enjoyed a number of uniquely Baltimorean experiences, and gotten involved in the rich heritage of city.  My service with Volunteer Maryland has given me the opportunity to learn and grow with all of our Volunteer Maryland Coordinators.

Recently, I have been revisiting some goals I set for myself as AmeriCorps member with Volunteer Maryland.  I wanted to break the goals I had set down into small, achievable actions that I would be able to complete over the coming months.  One model that I really found helpful with this was S.M.A.R.T goals.  Since I have a lot I want to achieve over the next several months, I found it important to create deadlines and a checklist for each goal.  I’m never going to get around to better public speaking without some planning!

With a S.M.A.R.T. goal, I need (1) Specifics, not just a general statement, for example, about better public speaking skills.  My goal needs to be (2) Measurable; for example, I know my goal has been achieved when I feel comfortable with public speaking.  The goal should also be (3) Achievable; I would not want to set this as my goal if it will demotivate me or defeat me!  I know I have the knowledge to achieve better public speaking, and that it will just require me to stretch out of my comfort zone.  When I set this goal, I also have to make sure that it’s (4) Result-focused; so that I concentrate on becoming better and more comfortable, and not on how many speeches I may give. It also helps if the goal is (5) Time-bound.  Otherwise, like many of my past New Years resolutions, I might keep putting it off until the whole year has passed!  Setting check-in dates for myself will create accountability, and help this goal stay on track.

What goals do you or your organization have for this coming year?  I hope that 2013 will see me achieving my goals, and you with yours.

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The Great Wall

The following is a guest post from Patrice Beverly, VM’s Outreach Manager.

Ever hit a time when you energy and creativity are at an all time low?  Summers at Volunteer Maryland are pretty hectic with finishing a class and preparing to launch another.  It can feel like all you have time for is Quad 1 tasks, and your to do list and inspired list seem to get lost under a sea of do it now post-it-notes.  After all of this activity, it can feel like driving full force into a concrete wall, reinforced if I might add.  But it is time for new ideas and initiatives!  So how to overcome the great wall that seems to exist between my creative and exhausted self?  I have started a list of things that might bring back the creativity in my work.  So here are my very un-scientific thoughts:

Re-arrange your office.  A new view could help bust through the blahs.  I know that, for some people, the routine helps with creativity, but for those who need to shake it up a bit, give it a try.  I must disclose here that shoving furniture is a time honored therapy with the women in my family, handed down to us by our mom, a habitual mover of the furniture.  She claimed that it helped her relieve stress, and calm her thoughts so she could get at the really important ones.  My sisters and I swear by it.

Don’t ignore the play.  Let’s face it, we are at work a heck of a long time, and if you work in an office eight plus hours a day, it can get downright depressing.  Each Friday, Volunteer Maryland staff takes about 10 minutes to dance.  That’s right, dance.  It feels great to play with my colleagues and to feel a bit silly.  Now, dancing might not be your thing, but find a way to play with your team.  Creative environments breed creativity, and play works a different side of your brain.  Making play a part of your work life will not only help with creativity, but you might learn that your office mate does a mean samba.

Put goals where you can see them.  I am not talking tasks here, I am talking big goals like climb Mt. Everest, or receive 50 plus applications (that is really one of my goals).   When you have a good idea, but can’t get to it, write it down under that goal.  I put these huge post-it notes on a wall in my office with three big goals I have for my work this year.  As an idea floats through my mind, I am going to capture it on a smaller post-it under the big goal.  So many times I have a great idea, but lose it in the course of my day.  This way I can capture the idea, continue what I was doing, and have a good marker when I circle back.

Put up reminders of what inspires you.  Each of us has a reason we do this work, but in the day to day agendas, there is little time to reflect on that.   Indulge that reason each day with pictures, thoughts, words, thank you notes, whatever reminds you that what you do has a larger purpose.  It not only feels good, but it can bring back the passion and drive to keep moving and striving for the best we have.

Nothing here is ground breaking, but in a recent post I talked about shaking it up, and I am sticking to it.  I write this from a freshly re-arranged office, with goals in plain sight.  No big surge of creativity yet, but I feel more open to new thoughts and ideas.  I will keep you posted when the lightning strikes.