things in a tone that conveys that I actually care about what they have to say. The reminder that I do care about them should help make sure that my change in behavior is genuine.” Measurable : Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as: How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished? For example, many of us want to increase our number of contacts. But a goal such as "I will make new contacts in the field of finance" cannot be assessed reliably. A clearer objective would be "I will attend two finance-related events in NYC before the end of the semester and try to connect with one new person at each." With such a simple, concrete goal, it would be easy to gauge success. For goal areas that don’t easily lend themselves to obvious measurement, one option for measurement is to enlist the help of someone involved in the social context to give you a third party opinion on whether progress is being made. Checking in with that person for their feedback can be a means of measurement. Achievable : Goals need to balance challenge and realism—you should stretch yourself, but unattainable goals quickly lose their motivating power. Someone who commits to working on their decision making skills, for example, would not necessarily be well-served with a goal such as “I want to make no bad decisions in the next 12 months.” While this may be an admirable aspiration, a better and more motivating goal might be “Each month for the next year, I will identify the two or three biggest decisions I made and analyze them in retrospect with a trusted mentor.” Reinforcing : Your goal(s) should reinforce your bigger, long-term picture of what you truly care about, what you want to achieve and/or who you want to be. If your action plan goals are highly relevant to your broader ambitions, they’ll benefit from your intrinsic motivation. If your goals aren’t aligned with your core values and broader ambitions, not only will they risk being neglected, they may not be the right goals in the first place. Time-bound : Set a date by which you can assess whether or not you have accomplished what you set out to do. The clearer the deadline is, the more improvement you will likely make. Setting this deadline will also protect you from traps like procrastination and perfectionism. For the purposes of this assignment, most good action plans will not be specific enough if they’re not limited to the next few months at the longest. If you’re considering targeting a weakness, you may wonder, “Can we ever really change who we are?” Many people (and many scholars) disagree in their answers to this question. But this isn’t necessarily what your action planning is or should be about. We strongly encourage you to be specific and pragmatic when you think about development. Virtually everyone agrees that we can change many of our behaviors and that other people’s perceptions of us are based at least in part on our behaviors. So to change people’s perceptions of you, and to address the negative consequences of a weakness, focus on concrete behaviors that reflect or entail your weakness.
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- Fall '12
- Psychology, Alison