Goal setting for working moms, especially moms of preschoolers, can be tough because there are so many things that can derail your plans. The trick is to set both short-term and long-term goals and keep them realistic, measurable and achievable. Build in enough flexibility to continue in spite of obstacles. Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans, so it pays to keep those goals flexible.
1. Guidelines for Goal Setting
In "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," Stephen Covey points out that your ability to change your environment begins with governing your attitude toward it. The morning that you have your charming 3 year old dressed in her lovely best, only to have it drenched by a cascade of chocolate milk that got knocked out of her hands by the 2 year old, or the day you are preparing for an important interview only to have your last business attire stained with mustard-colored diaper leakage, might lead you to regret parenthood. While you might not be able to control these things, you can control your response to them. Feel the emotion, acknowledge it, then set about dealing with damage control.
2. Examples of Short-Term Goals
Short-term goals can include behavior modifications to make your day run more smoothly, such as getting up 10 minutes earlier or setting out everyone's clothing the night before, and planning in a spare set for just in case. If you are concerned about your family's nutrition, you might make it a goal to cook at home at least two nights a week. You might even plan to spend 30 minutes playing with your child or reading aloud to him as a special bonding activity. The key is that your goal should be something specific, measurable and fully under your control.
3. Examples of Long-Term Goals
Long-term goals move beyond the minutia of day-to-day living. They could include looking for a different job, going back to school, learning a new skill or even planning a vacation. Set a time limit on long-term goals, such as "When my child enters elementary school, I will enroll in college." Clare Ellen Weinstein, in "Short-term and Long-term Goals," explains that some of your short-term goals can be preparation for your long-term goals. For example, if one of your goals is to get a different job, you might set a short-term goals that improve your ability to cope with the day to day minutia that troubles your current occupation.
4. Dealing With Obstacles
Things are going to happen that will make it hard to accomplish your goals. As a working mom, you have responsibilities that will get in the way of accomplishing your goals. Richard Carlson, author of "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff," points out that focusing on problems and imperfections actually gets in the way. This doesn't mean that you should not do your best, or that you should not try to overcome obstacles. Tai Chi philosophy compares human energy to water and describes water as the strongest force on earth because it flows over or around obstacles and slowly wears them away. For a working mom, that means flowing with the day-to-day problems without taking your eye off your long-term goals.
5. Steps Toward Your Goal
Edwin A. Locke, in "New Directions in Goal-Setting Theory," points out that achieving goals creates a sense of accomplishment. Even if they are small steps, such as getting up 10 minutes earlier in order to add exercises or a few minutes of quiet reading before starting your daily rounds, this is a measurable activity about which you can feel good. Stephen Covey says that he prepares for his day by getting up an hour before his family to have "me" time. Time for yourself refuels your inner person so that you can cope with the challenges you must meet every day.