Where Are You Going? Three Benefits of Setting Goals.

Communications, Growth

As fall begins to settle in here in the great state of Minnesota, it gets cooler and the leaves fall. We collectively drag out some warmer clothes and bitterly put away those summer shorts and wonder why we do live here year after year. Fall also reminds me of looking forward and sorting out what’s next. You see, despite Outlook for both the office and my phone, Google calendars, a calendar on the fridge, a calendar in my office (you’re getting the idea) I still keep a planner too. It’s nice for me to make notes or change appointments on the go and it’s always with me. As I get ready to order the 2011 planner, I looked back and flipped through the pages of the last year. It’s amazing to see the journey you take in a year. There are reminders of successes, failures, and moments to remember both personally and professionally.

I also set goals in the back of said planner. Some are for the next year and some are significantly longer-term. I recently hit one that I’d set out more than 10 years ago when speaking with the president of the first company I worked for out of school. He’d asked “how will you know if you’re successful in your career? My response was, when my peers and those I respect come to me for thoughts, assistance, or to chat when they hit challenges in their careers. It was an answer rooted in what I saw in my dad growing up as he worked hard but gave freely of his time to try to help others and his profession. It was a surprising moment for me and one that probably wouldn’t have meant much if I hadn’t set out some goals about what I want to achieve and how to do so.

So, as we enter 2011, consider the benefits of goal setting in your career.

1) They provide focus: The process of goal setting is one where you need to stop and think. These goals aren’t just the tactical elements that need to be covered for you team/boss next year but think about where you really want to be in three years. What are the steps you need to take to make that possible? It’s difficult to take time to stop and slow down but it provides clarity to what you truly want to achieve.

2) You have accountability: The simple act of writing out goals provides you with a measurable timeline. You’ve laid out your goal, perhaps some building block goals along the way, and you have a path to guide you. You’re far more likely to meet your goals when they are written out than just saying “someday I want to…”

3) Goals serve as a reminder: When times get tough, which they will, looking at your written goals can provide you inspiration to keep moving forward. The challenges remain but when aiming for a larger goal, you can ride out the ups and downs along the way.

PRSA Progression

Business Communications, Leadership, Public Relations, Social Media

Let me get this out-of-the-way right at the beginning.  I am a huge PRSA supporter.  I’ve been a PRSSA and PRSA member for roughly 15 years now.  This could be construed as negative but I want to make sure that everyone understands it is meant only as a valid question in the hopes of continuing to consistently improve the offerings provided to the organization’s membership.

When I began as a recent graduate, I recall attending monthly meetings featuring some of the best and brightest in the Twin Cities.  I was honestly in awe of what many of these professionals had accomplished as I was starting my career.  Over the next decade, I was able to build relationships and connections that helped me along as I learned how to stand on my own.  PRSA played a valuable role in enhancing my career.

However, in today’s environment when so many senior communications professionals are only a Tweet or webinar away, I”m wondering if PRSA needs to alter its traditional approach to delivering value to its membership.  Access that was stunning to me years ago is now commonplace, and expected.  As professionals continue to shell out a few hundred dollars each year to be a member, what can the organization do that really delivers a significant benefit to those of you out there that support it?  What methods of programming are you interested in? Should there be a greater emphasis on webinars or perhaps more focus on a regional set of programming versus strictly local?  Or does the price point need to change to more frequent but targeted lower cost events?

As more and more professionals are struggling with justifying the cost of professional development to their employers (or paying it on their own during a tough economy) what’s the mix you’d like to see?