Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Ten Things I Wish I Had Been Told Before Graduating From College - Part II
6. Set goals and revisit them often
Just after I started my first job (selling office equipment – I was horrible at it by the way) I won a motivational tape as part of a cold calling contest. While my career selling office equipment was short, I continued to absorb anything I could when it came to self-improvement. I stumbled on a goal setting program and it helped me establish goals that have led to my successful career as a Fortune 100 Executive.
Much has been written about goal setting and it is an easy subject to locate and put into practice. What I think differentiates the successful from the unsuccessful goal setters is the practice of reviewing their goals on a frequent basis. I did this naturally for many years and then I hit a period of ten years or so when I set my goals each year but let them die a slow death throughout the year by neglecting them. Needless to say I started to feel like I was in a rut…because I was. When you review your goals frequently you get two benefits; you imprint the goal in your brain (admittedly a very basic explanation of a complex topic) and it helps you to course correct your path if you discover a goal is not quite in line with your value system. Either way, you move yourself and your goals forward. So be sure to set your goals and revisit them at least once a month and avoid getting stuck in a rut.
7. Slow Down A Little…Time Passes Much More Quickly Than You Can Imagine
I can remember being ten years old and thinking I would never be “grown up”. I remember my first day of High School wishing I could just get on to college. I remember seeing all of my children being born and wondering how they might turn out. Today I have been “grown up” for many years. College is a distant memory and my kids are…a law student, a college sophomore and a high school junior. They all have turned out to be terrific individuals and I wonder when it all happened. Truth is it happened in front of my eyes…but like most busy people I wasn’t always paying attention or at least not paying full attention. If anyone ever tells you time flies so pay attention (I just did by the way) listen to them and make a sincere effort to enjoy the journey on the way to reaching your goals and dreams. On trick I love is making a quick mental gratitude list when I wake in the morning…just three to five things that you have in your life that you appreciate. Frankly it makes you more mindful and that helps hold the memories a little tighter and makes time feel a little slower.
8. Limit Fear in your life (it’s hard to eliminate)
If you have ever watched a football game and seen the winning team go into their “prevent” defense you should notice two things. First, the defense doesn’t prevent very much as the other team inevitably scores or at least comes very close. Second, the defense looks like they are playing not to lose…and they are. What should they be doing? Playing to win. I remember a couple of times when I had made the decision to pursue a new job and suddenly I performed at a different level. I was no longer concerned if I made a mistake, if my opinion fell on deaf ears or if I appeared to know more than my boss. Said another way…I was no longer afraid of making a mistake. I wasn’t “preventing” a problem…I was winning.
The same goes for life experiences…you can always find reasons why not to do something and it can be easy to rationalize this as playing for the long haul. The problem is we only know for sure that we have the day in front of us and nothing more. If you play for the long haul too much you may never play and that…is just scary.
9. Your biggest barrier to success is you
In my twenty plus years out In ”The Real World” I could count on one hand the times I just said “Fuck it” and did something just because I felt like it. That is not to say that I ultimately did not go ahead and make many positive, productive steps forward in my life…I just analyzed the living shit out of them first. Looking back it is pretty clear had I followed my gut I would have landed right where I am today…just much sooner and with less angst.
You will hear from your internal voice more than any outside trusted advisor (friend, co-worker, family member) how you can’t do this or that. Tell that voice to shut up. Our lives are filled with opportunities to limit ourselves and often times that is just what we do…we take the path of least resistance because the other way is “Too hard, not possible or beyond my abilities”. Bullshit. Get out of your own way. Aim high, then aim higher. You’ll be surprised how easily you not only reach your goals but exceed them.
10. Most People Are Happy To Help You…You Just Have To Ask
I have many people in my lifetime. Some are super successful, some do okay and others barely get by. The one thing the super successful people have in common (besides an unyielding dedication to pursuing their dreams)? They aren’t afraid to ask people (close acquaintances and people they have never met) if they might be able to help them. Perhaps they need an introduction to a business contact. They ask someone who knows that person if they can open that door. If they are pursuing a business lead they ask around until they find a connection. Sometimes they just set up meetings to meet people who interest them. These first meetings often turn into relationships that can lead to more doors being opened.
I will admit this is not my strongest attribute…asking people for help or introductions or information. Yet the times I have it has always paid off in the form of a new contact, a new found business relationship or even better, a new friend. Next time you need a hand…just ask.
11. Change Creates Stress…This Is Perfectly Normal
I know this was supposed to be ten things but I could not just skip past this one. Change is everywhere and it is happening at blinding speed. Change hurts. Change incites fear. Change rolls over you and just when you think it has passed it comes around for another roll over. I have moved seven times and worked for six companies. Each one of those “changes” was both exciting and terrifying. At every new job I have had, within the first 3-9 months I was sure I had made the biggest mistake of my life. I was “right” only once and it turns out it wasn’t the biggest mistake of my life it was just a mistake. A mistake I learned a hell of a lot from having made.
Whether you change jobs, move (this includes heading off the college or grad school) if you don’t feel at some point like you might have made a mistake then you probably aren’t paying attention. The key is to take a step (or two) back and see if what you are feeling is simply stress…stress that you may have overlooked because everything was so new. Eventually it catches up with you and that’s when you just might have a brief meltdown…that’s okay. If it really is a huge mistake you will know this soon enough. In the meantime, try to weather the storm, tough it out a bit longer and see if you don’t start to actually feel like you are where you are supposed to be…regardless make the most of it while you are there.
No matter whether you are just about to graduate or you did so twenty plus years ago I hope this helped at some level…
Thanks for reading.