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Career Coach: Time to Take Charge of Your Life

Alain Bielik visits with the vfx wizards who have brought life to the very interactive natural history museum in Night at the Museum. Includes QuickTime clips!

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson

My family recently watched Freaky Friday, a movie about a mom and daughter who trade lives. My husband asked my daughter what she would write for my January column, which is often about goals, and she wrote this acrostic:


et a planO rganizeA ssign prioritiesL et's Go!

My daughter knows that to achieve any goal, you need to get a plan. If you have specific goals for the year, you'll need a plan for how to achieve them. When you look back at 2006, didn't it pass quickly? The year 2007 will go by just as quickly -- whether you have a plan or not.

To get a plan, decide what is important to you. Don't concern yourself with what others may think or what they value. It's your time and your life. Know what you want. If you have been putting off doing something important to you, make a pledge to do it now. Goals can be personal, enriching you in body or spirit; or professional, enriching you in monetary ways.

All goals require dedication to transform them into reality. That is why you must choose goals that are important to you. Because, without passion and desire, you'll have little reason to put in the work necessary to achieve your goals. Goals require time, effort and commitment. You will be giving something else up whenever you work on a goal, so make sure your goal is important to you.

Review your goals from last year and congratulate yourself on what you accomplished and revel in your achievements. Now examine what you didn't get done. Ask yourself why you haven't been able to achieve those goals. If they are still important to you, make a list of your obstacles and brainstorm ways to overcome them.

Once you have a plan, you need to get organized. Write down your goals and post them somewhere you'll see them every day. Don't tuck them away in a drawer or file folder.

Determine what you need to accomplish your goals. Perhaps you'll need to collect tools or equipment or acquire new skills or knowledge. Once you know what you need to accomplish your goals, brainstorm ways to get it. Perhaps you have a friend who can help. If you are an artist and need a website, perhaps you can trade artwork for his or her web skills.

Often we set goals that are too big, too distant and difficult to reach and because they seem unattainable we are discouraged from working toward them. But breaking a large goal down into smaller achievable goals will help you attain the big goal.

My friend, Nick Fedak, has a long-term goal of having his photographic work accepted to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Nick works on his goal constantly, by getting his work into smaller shows and museums all over the country. Each time his work is exhibited, he builds his reputation, while keeping his long-term goal in sight. He is in frequent contact with gallery owners and museum curators all over the country. He sends them notes on their birthdays and invitations to his show openings. As he builds his network, he also regularly communicates with the Museum of Modern Art to keep them informed of the progress in his career. Each time he is accepted into a show, he takes a step closer to his big goal -- getting his work shown in the Museum of Modern Art.

In our house, there is a standing joke: "D.E.I." which stands for Do Everything Immediately. Of course, you can't do everything immediately. You must make choices. Because there are only 168 hours in a week and you can't do everything immediately, you have to assign priorities. Your daily to-do list should include tasks that contribute to your long-term goals. Review your goals at least once a week to make sure you stay on track and to keep your priorities current. What's important to you in January might not be important in March or April.

Make a daily to do list and rank the items in order of importance with an "A," "B" or "C." Do this in the evening so you can get a jump-start on the next day.

"A" items are those that are crucial. You must do these items or delegate them to someone else or there will be consequences. Items rated "A" are often things that must be done as soon as possible. For example, completing a report for your boss due the next day is an "A" item. Do the "A" items first. The things on your "A" list should be helping you toward one of your long-term goals.

"B" items are important, but they are not as crucial as "A" items. Work on the "A" items before the "B" items. When "A" items are done, work on the "B" items.

Let the "C" items slide. "C" items have little value and it's okay if they don't get done. Sometimes it seems that an item is urgent and you may think it's an "A" item, but it's really a "C" item in disguise. To test this, ask yourself what would happen if you never did that "A" item. If nothing dire would result from ignoring it, change the rating to a "C." Most items in the "C" category can be eliminated from the to-do list entirely.

Let's go!

Goal -- the first half of the word is really more than half of what a goal is about. Goals help us set a direction of where we want to go. They also help motivate us to get going and to keep going.

Break down large goals into smaller ones and get going. Every accomplishment will give you a boost of motivation to the next goal. Whenever you succeed, congratulate yourself and enjoy your triumphs, both small and large, and reinforce your sense of happiness and motivation.

As you set small goals and work on achieving them, your life will transform into a series of successes and every step you take will take you on the road to success.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter, hiring strategist, career coach and speaker, available for personal consultations and speaking engagements. She is conducting a goal setting meeting with Jan Nagel at the Women in Animation meeting on Feb, 1 at DreamWorks Animation. If you are interested in her professional services as a career coach, speaker or recruiter, contact her at