How can you be more successful in achieving what you want in life and work? Personal effectiveness means making the most at all personal resources at our disposal - our talent, energy and time relative to what's most important to us. It's like money management or investment - we want to get the best return on our resources.
As with managing money, we can either drift through life making ad hoc decisions or we can set time aside periodically to review our investments.It's not about sacrificing spontaneity or opportunism to be super organized if this is not your style. It's more a matter of taking whatever steps fit your style to help you are make the best use of your talents, energy and time. Being successful is in the eyes of the beholder - for some it means having a satisfying personal life, for others it is some form of career success that drives them. The only right answer is the one that makes you happy.
Can you define what success means to you? If not, how do you know what to strive for and how will you know whether you have achieved it? To achieve success, it helps to set goals. But you also need to be an opportunist, to take an exploratory approach so that you can discover what you really want.
Like one executive in career transition said: "I don't know what I want to do next, but I'll know it when I see it."
Your Goals and Values
What do you want to do with your life? What are your aspirations?
Here are some examples, but you could well have some different goals or values:
- Learn more about X by...
- Reach a certain level by...
- Change jobs by...
- Retire by age...
- Save X amount by...
- Do less of A, more of B by...
- Get in better shape by...
- Manage my time better by...
- Get an international job by...
- Be fluent in French by...
- Work-life balance
- Job security
- Service to community
- Helping others
- Doing meaningful work
- Happy family life
- Personal growth, learning
- Variety and excitement
- Free time for personal interests
- Financial success
- Time with friends
Not clear about your values? Try rank ordering them and see what that tells you.
No particular career or personal goals? It's OK to be an opportunist if you push yourself to diversify by doing different things.
A drifter is someone who keeps busy with no thought of where he or she is going with no attempt to avoid getting into ruts. We get embarrassed when asked about our goals if we have none.
There is no need to feel this way. Try to strike a balance between having no direction at all and being 100% clear.
The easiest way to achieve this balance is to ensure that you are continually developing, learning new things. You might not have clear goals, but you have a process that keeps you growing.
This section is about personal effectiveness. What does that mean to you? It usually means something along the lines of ensuring that you get the best possible return on your investment of time and energy.
Your values might be such that this is just not important to you. If personal effectiveness is of value to you, it might help to think of yourself using investment terminology.
To make the best use of all you have to offer, it is essential to formally allocate certain times of each year to stocktaking - a formal review of what you have accomplished, where you have failed, what you have learned and what you might do differently.
This is a time to weigh up how your achievements of late measure up in relation to your goals and values. There is no right answer, only what matters to you.