Q: Jill, every year I make these elaborate plans to better myself at work, improve my communicating and spend time with friends and family.

But I never seem to feel satisfied that they’ve been met by the end of the year. What suggestions can you offer me? I really feel that this is going to be my breakthrough year and I really want to keep that momentum going strong. Thanks for your good advice over the years. Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!


A: Happy New Year, Pauline. So often we have a new-year-new-me, all-or-nothing mentality, such that if we don’t meet every goal we set on Jan. 1 by year’s end, we feel we’ve somehow failed.

Instead, I suggest adopting a new-year-continually-improved-me mentality, which allows you to work on goals realistically, and leaves room for all the unexpected — and often unwanted — turns life can throw our way throughout the year.

Another thing to watch out for is the mistake of setting too many goals to be accomplished in too little time or with too little support.

You can’t set goals way up in the clouds. You’ve got to be sure that they’re manageable and that you’ve calculated time-lines to keep you on track. Most important with goal setting, though, is to ensure that you’ve got support networks in place.

So for example, if being a better employee means being more punctual or more assertive, you should ask yourself, "What tangible things can I do to better those skills, and where can I go for help when I’m slipping?" Without a contingency or support plan, you’re bound to fall short once you stumble on a hard spot.

You’ve got to be strict with yourself, too. Be open to considering how you may be sabotaging your own goals without being aware of it.

For instance, partying late on a work night doesn’t quite fit with a plan to improve your punctuality. So be certain to curb any habits that are a hindrance to goals you’ve set.

My goals for this year include volunteering and/or working part-time at a television station so I can further learn the ropes and network in broadcasting. In turn, this should move me closer to my ultimate goal of hosting and producing a talk show.

I’ve spent too much time evaluating the potential challenges (a debilitating fear of failure is self-sabotaging) and now I’m ready to make this goal active.

No cheating here: a goal is just a goal on paper or in our heads until we activate it. Fear is normal as long as it doesn’t take your eyes off of the prize.

Overall, I recommend taking it one step at a time. As you achieve each goal or each mini-step towards your final destination, celebrate it with those you find most supportive.

And when failures happen along the way, don’t be afraid to revisit your goal, refine it or even abandon it for a newer, more appropriate one.

That revised goal may or may not be as challenging as the original one, but it will certainly be more rewarding when you achieve it, because it will better reflect who you are, your strengths and your limitations (personal and circumstantial). Good luck.

Jill Andrew — CYW, BA, BA (Hons.), BEd. Please include your full name, address and telephone number when e-mailing. All letters are subject to publication.


jill’s tip of the week

Someone very wise once told me not to consider a breakdown as a negative thing. Instead we should try to see a breakdown as an actual breakthrough. When you are so fed up with something either personally or professionally that you find yourself in tears this is not a sign of weakness. Take pride in knowing that you’ve had a breakthrough. It’s your body and your soul telling you that you are finally ready to fight forward and find your solution.

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