Identify Your Goals and Achieve Them
Last Spring, as graduation neared, I was faced with a great many options. I could move to the coast with my family for a gap year or stay in Austin and continue going to Riverland, I could move up to the cities and get some work experience under my belt before Uni, or I could go abroad the way I had wanted for a great many years. These decisions couldn’t just be about what I wanted in that moment, but also where the choices could lead. I could gain some great contacts in Minneapolis or I could further my education a bit before Uni, or I could have the wonderful background of spending a few months in another country. Stressful, let me tell ya. In order to actually assess all these options, I needed a visual or where these next few months could take me compared to where I wanted to be. Thus, I dove into what my laptop had to offer and found a simple format that’s on almost any computer. My apologies, however, that I have absolutely no Mac background although one might be able to apply this to a program on that.
Okay, so I would assume most if not all of you have used Word from Microsoft. Again, sorry to Mac users. One of the aspects you may or may not have used on it is Smart Art. Smart Art is found on the Insert tab and is one of the blocks in the Illustration square. When you press on this box, a pop-up will show up that displays a multitude of graphics to use as templates for whatever you could need. Personally, I like to use the flow charts in order to visualize my different potential paths and outcomes for an option. This can be especially handy when making big decisions like where to go to school or whether or not to take a new job or even what place you want to live at.
In the first square, describe your current state. So in my example from earlier, it was that I was in Austin, nearing graduation, with a decent amount of savings. Then, you use the branches off of this in order to describe the options, with no options added. For my example, that was Going abroad, working in Minneapolis, moving with my family, or continuing at Riverland. From here it's just following the flow of potential outcomes. If I went to the cities, I could work at any number of places there but I would be at school for longer when I went back. If I went abroad, I could spend a gap year after making up my savings or dive right into school. Going to Washington opened the opportunity or studying out there with in-state tuition but would mean the end of my relationship with my boyfriend and forced me to start from scratch with much of my school plans and research. Now that you've evaluated the paths each decision could take you down, ideally as unbiased as possible, you can go back and evaluate pros and cons of each option. I suggest analyzing the outcomes first because many decisions you think are great may not actually be taking you where you imagine. I had initially thought going abroad right away was my best choice but I decided that I could still do that but when I did after a bit more education, I could apply further to my career and it would have more of an impact. If I had jumped to pros and cons, I may have simply looked at the good things about going abroad since that’s what I thought would be the best option.
- Describe your current state, assets, conditions, and any other pertinent information.
- In your first column of branches, describe your options but not how you feel about them. Just the facts.
- Use the following columns to trace where each option can take you, again trying to be as objective as possible.
- Now that you have the full picture, go back and state the pros and cons of each option.
- Make some decisions and act on them.
Many of us get caught up in these kinds of decisions and are unable to move forward. I think one of the most common mistakes people make is letting life just happen to them. They assume one decision is the best and just go with it, or even worse, don’t make any decision at all and let those around them do the thinking instead. Analyze your decisions, research your options, and, most importantly, don't let those around you make all the decisions for you. The tactics you use to make your decisions should make this process easier and that’s why this method has worked miracles for me.