Monday, January 7, 2013

Predictions Mean Nothing

With the promise of a new year comes predictions of our future.  Forecasters look ahead through time and try to guess what our lives may be like in the years to come.  I'm not too keen on making projections for the future of libraries because it requires too much speculation and evaluation of information yet to come.  What I do like to focus on, however, are goals.  Goals keep us focused on what we want to happen in the future instead of idly standing by and letting the future happen to us.  Whether it be a short term or long term goal, setting one is the path toward success.

In your job, you are probably required to set annual goals for yourself.  Doing this can often seem so tedious a task that you grow to hate it.  After all, when you've been in the same position for several years, what more is there to learn?  The problem with creating annual goals is they give the impression that the goal should be completed within that time frame.  With this thinking, it certainly limits the type of goal you may pick for yourself.  Instead of thinking in terms of annual goals, think instead of continuous goals.

The road you take toward your destination is often filled with right and left turns - choices of which route to take.  If you turn left instead of right, you may reach your destination but you will have seen something completely different along the route.  My first year as a librarian I set a goal to be a better trainer. In my position, this was the main focus within the job description so it was important that I know how to train.  As I began to take every single webinar about training, I learned there were many facets of being a good trainer and each one deserved its own focus.  As a result, I kept my training goal for three years before I felt satisfied that I had achieved it.  And things are constantly changing so I wouldn't be surprised if it pops back up as one of my goals again as another layer to be learned.

But what does any of this have to do with you?  Everything! - as long as you are interested in or need help setting goals.  Here's what I suggest to help you in setting short and long term goals:
  • Look at the Organization - in setting goals we tend to be a little self centered and only look at ourselves.  By looking at the organization and noting where improvement could be made, you may find that you are the one to fill the gap.
  • Look at your career - advancement goals are always a good thing to have if that is indeed what you want to do.  In researching about a position you may find that it really isn't what you wanted or, maybe, it will give you the advantage in the next interview.
  • Look at your job description - so many times we get caught up in doing the day-to-day things of library work that we forget what extras our job description entails.  Going through the job description may give you a bit of inspiration.
  • Look at your personal life - there are times when a goal can serve you in both your work and home life.  Thinking about what you would like to accomplish personally may translate to helping you you accomplish bigger and better things professionally.
  • Look at the bigger picture - thinking forward to what you would like to see yourself become or, even more grandiose, what you would like to see your library become lends itself to wonderful goal setting. 
Goal setting is the only way to make a prediction come true and thinking about what you want to become or what role you want to fill can lead you down many paths. I suggest a road map, or an outline, to help you reach your destination.  I'll cover the importance of an outline in my next post.

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