I added another goal to my blog vision project, today: to post my online resume and portfolio. It’s a goal that’s been rattling around for a while, but I’ve never actually got around to writing it down.
That this goal has been rattling around for so long (maybe 6 years, or more if I’m really honest) illustrates the importance of making things visible.
Reflecting on why it took so long to materialize, I came up with the following tips to prevent the next goal from taking so long.
Clear and well-defined goals are easier to commit to
Not knowing how to accomplish the goal makes it hard to commit to. Sure, I could have started with something like “have a great portfolio” as a goal (which was where I was 6 or so years ago, by the way); however, at the time, I didn’t have a clear idea about how to make that happen. To commit then would have just been frustrating and defeated the goal of having goals–actually accomplishing something. It could have been an aspiration, perhaps, but it wasn’t ready to be a goal.
“Portfolio” was the complicating word, in this case. I couldn’t think of anything that I had for a portfolio. In the intervening years, I’ve talked to people who frequently review portfolios and my definition of portfolio started to evolve. Once I redefined portfolio to mean something more along the lines of an annotated resume, that opened up the possibilities to something I could envision and see a path towards. I had a goal I could commit to writing.
Do it if it’s important. Don’t do it if it’s not.
Priorities are important.
While I wanted to have a portfolio (of any kind) since I finished my MS degree (2009), it hasn’t always been the most important thing on the list of things to do. Over the past few years, I would take it from the shelf, review it, and, until recently, put it back on the shelf in deference to something more important or, at least, more urgent.
In Agile Development terms, it never made it off the backlog.
Yesterday, however, it was well defined and with a clear path to completion, and it was important, so it’s now a goal. Had I made it a goal any earlier, it would have resulted in a lot of wasted effort (non achievable) and likely resulted in more problems (by neglecting what was important at the time).
A goal without a plan is just wishful thinking
Having a goal without a plan is what happens between the times you decide on a goal and create the plan to accomplish it. During this period, wishful thinking is a good thing, as long as it motivates a plan and the action to accomplish it. Stopping at the wishful-thinking phase, however, won’t get it done.
So, it’s on the list and I have a plan. Now, to make it happen!