How to Make Your Goals Stick

How to Make Your Goals Stick

Contributed by
Dr. Alicia La Hoz

“A dream without a plan is a wish.”  In the past two blogs about change we’ve spent some time breaking down the foundations that help people change: Self-awareness and the decision to change.  Now, once you make a goal, how do you make sure to succeed in achieving it? After all, an admirable feat is not just about our launch, but how we finish. Below are some tips on finishing well.

  1. Pair your end-goal with something enjoyable.  Small rewards help provide a boost of motivation, and they don’t have to be exotic or expensive! Things you truly enjoy, like a steaming cup of coffee in the morning, music, or spending time with friends can be paired up with habits that you are trying to build. For example, if your goal is to journal everyday, create a routine of journaling with your favorite drink. This will increase the likelihood of you beginning to crave the activity. Brainstorm ways that you can incorporate your new goals with things that you naturally enjoy.
  2. Define Option B. If your goal is to stop damaging behaviors, identify the triggers that cause you to lurch towards the harmful activity. If your goal is to stop binging on junk food, keep healthy alternatives in your kitchen or make a habit of going outside for a walk when the urge to binge kicks in. If you are trying to stop chewing your nails, think of an alternative activity to occupy your hands when you are feeling anxious. If your alternative plan is too lofty or is something that you hate it, your heart won’t be in it and you will give up. You are more likely to succeed in lasting change when your alternative option is something you like to do and easy to do.
  3. Hold yourself accountable to another.  Find accountability by joining forces with a buddy or a group that is interested in pursuing a similar goal. For example, if you want to run a marathon, join a local running club. Those who hold themselves accountable to one another are most likely to succeed in the goals they set for themselves.
  4. Recalibrate. Oftentimes, circumstances like sickness, job loss, etc. can interrupt established routines. Accept that there will be bad days, days when you feel down, or days when your schedule seems out of control. Instead of having the expectation that these things should never get in the way of your plans, come to terms with life’s unpredictability. Schedule a few times throughout the year where your sole purpose is to evaluate your goals. As you evaluate them, think about what is helping you make progress and what roadblocks get in your way. Adjust your plan based on what you learn.
  5. Celebrate.  Recognize the milestones that you have achieved and celebrate them. Give yourself credit for the progress that you have made. Take the time to relish the goodness that comes with moments of success.

Go ahead and embrace a growth mindset, a mindset that seeks to grow and to learn.  As you do so, you will be a better student, parent, spouse, and employee/employer.

Your turn.  In the comment below, share what are some of the things you have found that have been helpful in helping you stick to your goals.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Creating Winning Habits

Creating Winning Habits

Contributed by
Dr. Alicia La Hoz

This is part two of the second blog in our resolution series, “How Do You Convince Yourself to Change?,” which you can read here. Once you have decided that you want to change and commit to measurable goals, the next step is creating winning habits that will take you to the finish line!

Create Habits that Work for You:

Once you have defined specific goals, build a routine that works for your schedule. If you plan to go to the gym in the morning three days a week, establish a routine that ensures your greatest success in the morning (i.e, put gym clothes on  immediately after waking up, set the alarm clock, have breakfast ready to go).  If your goal is to spend 10 minutes a day with your spouse to talk, figure out when that time will be, and create rituals that will help  facilitate that time. Brew tea, make a cup of coffee, get a notebook where you and your spouse and jot down stories that you want to share or remember.  Once you have established routines, and you work the routine out for a couple of months, the activity and mindset will begin to become part of who you are.

Remember the 3:00 o’clock coffee story I shared in my last blog post? Once the habit is established, you no longer have to decide each day to be grateful, to exercise or to eat healthier. Once you become habituated into the pattern, your brain will begin to expect the routine. Just like I anticipated the coffee, you will find yourself anticipating eating the healthy apple during a break at work, you will crave the hugs you receive and give from your loved ones before bolting out the door.  And just like every day you automatically seem to brush your teeth or drive yourself to work without thinking about it, your good habits will take over your poor ones and these will ultimately be folded into the very fabric of who you are.

Celebrate the Small Wins:

Success is a series of small wins. Celebrate each day you follow through with your goal. Celebrate after you succeed and celebrate while you are engaging in the activity. You can also create reinforcing activities that motivate you to keep the course when you pair an activity with another enjoyable activity. For example, if your goal is to get on an elliptical 30 minutes a day/3-days a week after work, stream your favorite show only during this time. Or if you love coffee, make sure you have the coffee ready when you spend your distraction-free 10 minutes talking with your spouse. If your goal is play with your kids 15 minutes a day, find an activity you both enjoy doing. Pushing towards a goal will be less of a grind if you find enjoyment in the process.

Write down your goals and achievements. Journal your progress and make a mental note of emotional and/or physical changes that you have experienced. As you savor the small positive changes that take place, you will feel more encouraged to stay on the course.

You can be the biggest obstacle to your own success. Convince yourself to change, and you will have won half the battle.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

How do You Convince Yourself to Change?

How do You Convince Yourself to Change?

Contributed by
Dr. Alicia La Hoz

The strong aroma of coffee would begin to perk me up before I even had my first sip of espresso. I worked as Director of Financial Aid while at completing my graduate work at TIU, and everyday at 3 pm, gracious coworkers would bring us a cup of cuban espresso. The experience became such an ingrained routine that the first memory that comes to mind when I think of my time at the University is the rich taste of the coffee. In the midst of sluggish afternoons, my coworkers and I would being to anticipate the arrival of the espresso.

Around 2:30 pm, those in the office would already begin to experience “the espresso joy,” knowing that we only had to wait a little longer until we received the caffeinated comfort that we had become accustomed to.

This experience of anticipation, of feeling the joy that something brings before we even receive it, is something studied by researchers when looking at the role of habit and routine. When you want to change, when you know what you want to change and when you have made a decision to change, you need to create habits and routines that allow the change to stick.

In this second blog in our resolutions series, we will explore the second component of change: making the decision to change.

 

Deciding to Change:

Self-awareness is like an internal mirror – it’s reflection reveals patterns that create either chaos or order in your life. When you have a problem such as explosive anger, binge eating, or impulsive shopping, you need to identify the circumstances and events that precipitate the problem that you want to correct. Once you reflect on what motivates your actions, you need to feel a sense of urgency and conviction to spur you on to make the needed changes.

Self-awareness without conviction can lead to a dangerous mindset consisting of complacency, self-pity, and even shame. And these forces can lead to a feeling of helplessness – an enemy that prevents change from happening. So, how can you persuade yourself to change?

 

    1. Write down a list of reasons why you should change. Write down the pros and cons of changing. For example, what would be the benefit of not exploding in anger around your family and co-workers? Make sure that your reasons are personal.
    2. What will happen if you don’t change? What is the worst thing that can happen if you continue living the way you are today?  What do you want to be like 5, 10, 15 years from now? Frame a picture in your mind of the worst and best version of yourself.
    3. Remember a time you were successful. Think about a previous effort you made to reach a goal, to do something different and think about how it felt to succeed. Dream about what your life would look like if you were able to forgive your spouse, if you managed your anger better, if you handled your impulses better.
    4. Go ahead and list all of your excuses. Write down all of the reasons why you have not changed already, or why previous attempts to change have failed. Highlight each excuse and be honest with yourself. What do you gain by not changing? What do you lose?

 

  • Find a hero. Is there a figure who shared a similar struggle and succeeded in achieving their goals? Watch a movie or read a book about such a person to gain inspiration and encouragement.
  • Choose one thing. When many faults come to the surface, it is easy to come up with a list of 100 things to change. Choose one thing that you can wrap your energy around. Break this one thing down into simple micro-moments.  For example, decide to greet your spouse with a kiss and hug everyday after work, instead of rattling off a list of complaints. This simple micro-moment will ultimately lead to a stronger relationship. A broad relationship goal such as “be happier in my marriage” may be frustrating because of the many factors thatcome into play. Instead, choose one thing to do and hone in on the micro-moments. Eventually, all of the micro-moments will add up and make a significant difference.
  • Make a commitment. Write down, “I am going to…”  Share your decision with someone you trust. When you share a commitment you have made, you are more likely to follow-through on your decision. You are more likely to stay true to your commitment if you have a friend or family member holding you accountable.

Define the Goal. Now that you have decided to change, the work begins. You should define goals that are SMART(Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Reasonable, and Timed). For example, “I will share one reason a day I am grateful to my spouse,”  Or “I will eat healthy snacks at work and will stock my lunch bag with healthy options so that I follow through on my goal.” Specifically identify what you want to do differently – the less vague your goal is, the more attainable it will be.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Choosing a Career

Choosing a Career

Contributed by
Eva Fleming

My nephew loves reading and by age 20 he had read a huge portion of the top recommended books in the U.S., having read a book a week for two years. So it came as no surprise when he announced that he was going to college to become an English professor.

This means that he will pursue a master’s degree once he completes his bachelor degree. His mother was so in tune with her son’s interests that she even said that she would not pay for a single college credit if he chose to pursue a career that did not align with his interests, like accounting.

My daughter, on the other hand, is an artist. She has always loved the arts, sculpture, painting and music, so when she announced she was going to the Art Institute to pursue technical training in Graphic Design, no one batted an eye.

My nieces and nephews have been fortunate because they know their strengths and with the support of their family they have been encouraged to pursue careers that are a good fit for them based on their strengths, values, personality and skills, not social status or social norms.

Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions an individual will make in his or her lifetime. We encourage parents to put aside their own ambition and encourage their children to pursue careers that fit their talents and passion.

The right kind of work provides us with an inner creative joy that no amount of leisure activities can replace. Dullness and boredom can turn work into a burden if we are not interested in what we do. Work can give us a sense of purpose and a channel for our passion.

This is why choosing a career requires some forethought. In order to choose well, you must first know yourself well. You need to get in touch with your strengths, values, personality and skills. Armed with that knowledge, you can then decide if a four-year college education or technical training will help you best embrace your life’s purpose.

Once you assess your likes and dislikes you can consider your options based on your interests. As you narrow down your choices, consider the impact your career choice will have on your life. Ask yourself, what is the financial impact of my career choice, what is the relational impact, and am I willing to live with those consequences?

Following a career path that suits you will enrich your spirit. The ancient proverb says, “the soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” So be diligent, be purposeful, and choose wisely.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

The College Student Struggle is Real

The College Student Struggle is Real

Contributed by
Vanessa Ortiz

People always ask me how I manage to balance two jobs and going to school full-time. I’ll let you in on a little secret of how I stay sane…it’s called planning! Ta-Da!!! No, but honestly, I have to plan my days weeks in advance in my yearly calendar, or else I would go insane. I have to write down deadlines and highlight them. Balancing two jobs and full-time college is very challenging, but I know I can handle it because I find time for myself, and I reward myself when I get paid two checks in one week. I’m always tired, but I often have to remind myself that this is just temporary, and my dream career is so close yet so far.

Without further ado, here are a few tips for being successful when balancing two jobs and school:

  1. Allow yourself enough time to sleep at least 8 hours to be well rested for the next day.
  2. Spoil yourself, but don’t go crazy.
  3. Take time to do things you love like spending time out with friends.
  4. SAVE…save…save! There’s no point in earning two checks and not saving any money. Put it into your emergency fund.
  5. Go to the gym 2 or 3 times a week for 30 minutes to allow your brain to destress from all of the mental work you have to do.
  6. Use an agenda that’s easily accessible and easy to write in. Write down important dates and little reminders for yourself.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Nothing worth having comes easy

Nothing worth having comes easy

Contributed by
Sarah Pichardo

You’re not born walking. First you learn to roll over and to sit. Then you learn to crawl. Then you learn to stand up while holding on to furniture, then by yourself. Then you manage to take a few steps before falling down, but you get up and do it again, and fall again. Then, and only after you’ve fallen more times than anyone can count and gotten back up, do you become a pro at walking. It’s hard work, but well worth it.

This is life. Everything you do isn’t easy until you’ve done it so many times, that it becomes easier. But you have to work.

Technology and social media have spoiled us with fulfilling our need for instant gratification. We want everything and we want it now. But success isn’t instant and doesn’t happen overnight.

A person who’s never run a mile in his life knows he can’t show up to a marathon and expect to complete it. He won’t get very far. Rather he gets on a training schedule, starts off slow and works his way up to running longer and longer until he reaches his goal.

Earlier this year, I set a New Year’s resolution. It’s to write a screenplay. I’ve never written a screenplay before. I’ve written for radio dramas, for theatre, for advertising and marketing purposes, but never have I written a full feature movie. I have the story idea and I could have sat down and started writing based on what I know, but the odds of that turning out any good are slim. Instead, I started by reading one book that introduced me to the topic. From there I set some time goals. Then I started reading more books, attending webinars, taking several classes and workshops from people who actually know what they’re doing, reading screenplays and watching lots of movies. In a few months, I’ll be conducting interviews, and from there I will work on an outline and then I will begin to write. I don’t expect to be done anytime soon. But I have set a goal and have given myself a goal date – allowing for some flexibility (but not too much because we all know that excuses are our worst enemy).

Set a goal. Set a date for when you want to accomplish your goal. Take baby steps. Take bigger steps. Fall down. Get back up. Keep going. Assess your progress. Adjust steps when necessary. Be flexible. Work hard. Work harder.

Nothing worth having comes easy.

For more resources on personal and professional development,  you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Refreshing Your Career

Refreshing Your Career

Contributed by
Robert Salazar

In approaching this topic, I’ll start with a story about John Lennon. The singer-songwriter (and part-time-walrus) had second thoughts about releasing an album, and after much reflection, he did. As to why, he simply said, “it’s all part of the production.”

I think about this line a lot. We as a people are producers, we create more of ourselves and spread out. In bringing up this idea of refreshing your career, I figure I’ll orient you to how I view my own career – one based in seeking the new and expanding what we get from life and give to it. I try my best to be philosophically sound in my decision making – and that starts in finding a philosophy.

 One way to develop a philosophy is to find the through-line of what you want to do. I have been lucky to work as an actor, theatre director, personal assistant, art director, production coordinator, product reviewer, pastry designer, copywriter, and more. I may wear a lot of hats but I always try to shop at the same store – so I’ve had many check-ins with myself and my mentors where I make sure I have a through-line I’m consistently honoring.

It starts with questions. What comes natural? What’s worth the work? In the end there will be no answers, but best guesses.

If you feel lost or stuck in your career, ask yourself what it is you’re there for. Who are you serving? Are you just there for a paycheck? It’s certainly fine to work somewhere just for the money, however I’ve seen plenty of friends burn out from this situation – their work lives have taken over their personal lives.

It happened to me too. I spent a solid few months working jobs I hated and felt myself falling into a depression. I was less fun to be around as a result and my personal relationships suffered. With maybe my 14th cover letter, I realized I was only ever talking about what I did, not what I want to do.

I started experimenting by writing about my passions and what truly inspires me. I started understanding what I really wanted and that’s when I started getting interviews. Now I’m happily married and I have 4 kids at Ivy League Schools.

Just kidding. The part that’s true is I’m happy. I’ll end with a recommendation for John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s “Double Fantasy,” Lennon’s comeback album after leaving the Beatles and taking a few years to focus on fatherhood. It focuses on how it’s crazy to do anything, but it’s even crazier to never refresh.

For more resources on professional development and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Making the Most of Your Internship

Making the Most of Your Internship

Contributed by
Ashley Reed

Whether you are a student looking for workplace experience or a professional transitioning into a new field, internships are pivotal for bolstering your resume and expanding your professional network. According to the The National Association of Colleges and Employers, a reported 80 percent of employers view recruiting as a primary function of internships, meaning that employers often are scouting potential hires during the internship process.

For this post, I reached out to my professional acquaintances and asked them how they made the most of their internships and their advice to others who are either finishing up an internship or planning to begin one in the future.

 

Gabrielle Doraisamy, Marketing Specialist at ASSET Marketing Services
If there’s one thing that I could pass on to future interns, it would be to dress up, show up, and contribute…Companies crave new (and free) ideas! Since it’s true, you’re only young once, use it to your advantage. As an intern, you have the incredible opportunity to provide a point of view that many executives do not have.

If you allow yourself to research and pitch an opinion or idea, many times, you will encounter a win-win scenario.
Win #1 – You are learning how to present your opinion in a professional setting.


Win #2 – You are giving possible hiring professionals a glimpse into what you can bring to the company if hired post-internship.
Worst case scenario – your idea isn’t positively received. I still consider this a win because you’re an intern who is trying. You still have the safety of operating under the umbrella of not being expected to know everything – trust me, you’ll miss this later in life.
When your internship is about to conclude, I would encourage every motivated intern to purchase a thank you card and hand-write (when was the last time you picked up a pencil anyways?) a thoughtfully worded “thank you” to the professionals you worked with. In the message, add a personal note explaining what you enjoyed about working with someone. These are the touches that make you stand out. Place the card in the envelope and say a prayer because you never know, you could be sealing the deal.”

 

Mary Stewart, Director of Communications at Mobilize Rescue Systems

“A communications internship at a busy startup accidentally taught me the value of taking initiative. The first few weeks I only accomplished what was on the job description, but it wasn’t long before I realized my boss was too busy to create new tasks. Sitting at a computer, waiting for direction, and not wanting to bother any of my colleagues – I decided to do what I thought would help the company.

I re-wrote the outdated content on the website, page by page. It might have been a small contribution, but when my boss stopped by to apologize for not keeping me busy, he saw that I was capable of not only solving problems but finding them as well. More importantly, I learned my worth as an intern wasn’t limited to a sheet of paper with a list of tasks. So my advice? You have a role in defining your internship – make it yours!’

For more information on how to find or make the most out of an internship, you can visit sites like the Career Contessa, Way Up, or LinkedIn. Best of luck to our readers who are currently finishing up an internship or beginning one in the future!

For more resources on professional development and relationship building, you can follow Family Bridges on social media @familybridges.

Networking

Networking

Contributed by
Eduardo Morales

As a business major during my undergrad years, I had my fair share of networking events. I even attended classes that taught business etiquette while networking. What’s the proper approach? How do you strike up conversation? What side of your shirt should you wear your nametag? No matter what industry you find yourself in, networking is very important. Why? Because the basic idea of networking is to build relationships that may lead to impactful opportunities and personal connections along the road.

In the early stages of my career, I didn’t see networking as something for others, I saw it as something for myself. For a while, I had a “how-can-you-help-me” approach to networking. Through experience, however, I found that networking should not be a “me-focused” endeavor, but should be about the other person that you are connecting with. Ultimately, it’s about building relationships, and no one likes being in a one-sided relationship. In order for a true relationship to be built, there needs to be a degree of reciprocity.

The shift in my mindset really took place several years ago, when I was working in a community outreach position for a church. The idea was to help the church connect to the community and allow the community to connect with the local church. This meant that a bulk of my duties included creating opportunities for the church to serve in the community and finding community resources that we could bring into the church to help the congregation as well.  Needless to say, I was out in the community quite frequently attending community fairs, advisory councils, CAPS district meetings, and block parties. Wherever you go, you can find a need that people have. Their need could involve employment, civic affairs, education, housing, or another aspect of their lives.

There are nonprofits, social services and government agencies that help fund in specific needs, but if we are honest we can’t meet all the needs of the community with just one organization. We could try, but odds are, the more we broaden our scope the less effective we might become in what we truly do well. From these experiences I really came to grasp the importance of taking the “how-can-I-help-you” approach to networking. This shift from a “me” to a “we” approach, is necessary for healthy collaboration. I believe that in order to truly make an impact in our neighborhoods, communities, cities, and world, we must replace isolated attempts for change with collaborative efforts.

I have followed Dale Patridge for a few years now. In his book, People Over Profit, he makes the point of focusing on helping people rather than focusing on just  profit. In other words, if you were to shift your mind-frame to, “how can I help one million people” instead of “how can I make million dollars,” you will most likely become successful because you a focusing on helping others (the consumers). As I transitioned into a new position at Family Bridges, I was tasked with helping to expand the organization into Phoenix. At the time we didn’t know many people there, nor did anyone know about us. So we did a lot of meeting and greeting, story-telling and selling, all by networking in the community with the mindset “how can we help?”

Looking to add value to others and cultivating relationships is the key to collaboration. This begins with a “we” approach to networking. So whether it’s networking for B2B or B2C, what mindset are you approaching others with? What are some ways that you could add value to those who you come in contact with? I truly believe that when people see that you are not just in it for yourself, but rather are eager  to help and put others first, walls can come down, opportunities to collaborate can arise, and you might have some wonderful opportunities to great things that impact the world around you.

For blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.

Taking a Risk

Taking a Risk

Contributed by
Robert Salazar

To start, thank you for taking the risk in reading this. It’s very possible this could be not worth your time, and what would you end up with? Less time. This is low on the range of risks. It’s not quite skydiving. Enjoy.

I see risks everywhere. It’s just the way I was raised. I can walk downtown and worry about bricks falling off a building and on my head. I can worry that microscopic mold is in my bread. Risks and worries are inextricable, and I am a worrisome person.

Like when I turn my car around because I think I haven’t locked my front door. Of course, I’ve never accidentally left my place unlocked in the 4 years I’ve lived there, but I’m still worried about that Day 1. Factories used to keep these large boards that said, “Days without accident” and they were chalk for a reason. Day 1 was always restarting. With every risk, you’re starting a new calendar.

You probably caught your attitudes towards risks as a kid. Early on I learned how to see risks, but also the importance of taking them. They help to expand what we consider our world. I remember being so hesitant to try new foods as a kid – even something as mundane as ketchup. Years later I’m happy I started taking plunges. Imagine if I hadn’t – how dry my fries would be.

Taking risks offers a positive in itself – that you even tried. It’s easy to sit back on your choice of doing nothing, but something is better…in fact I know taking risks led to all of humanity including the pyramids, boats, and ketchup.

We’ve been blessed with natural eyes that can see just about anything. As far as seeing the world equipment, we’ve got good vision for seeing it. I wouldn’t want eyes on the side of my head like a horse if I was staring at the Grand Canyon. Don’t waste your equipment. You’re a risk machine.

Risks got me where I am. Day 1 constantly. Every day is a new day.

For blogs, tips and ideas about life and relationships, follow us @familybridges.