I firmly believe the best things in life are the triumphs that make you proud – the ones that do not come easy.
All of the things I consider to be my greatest accomplishments have required sustained effort. Obtaining my degree, being commissioned into the Air Force, passing my certification exam and running a half marathon all come to mind. Besides effort, to accomplish something worthwhile it helps to have a goal, a support network and a plan to achieve it.
Whenever I hold an initial feedback session with one of my subordinates, or when I speak at a commander’s call, I challenge my Airmen to set ambitious goals. It is too easy to put your career in cruise control if you don’t set goals. You want a permanent change of station from this assignment knowing you accomplished something worthwhile.
So here is my challenge: Find a goal you can accomplish in the next two-to-three years. Some examples include finishing a degree, losing weight, running a marathon, completing your professional military education, or volunteering to lead an event for the base that is outside your comfort zone.
Next, share your goal with your supervisor. A good supervisor can set you up for success and help you along the way. When I was contemplating testing for my engineering certification, my supervisor made it clear he expected me to pursue it — he even put it in my feedback form. It was the extra push I needed to get the job done. For those of you who are already supervisors, make sure you know your subordinates’ goals and support them when you are able.
Finally, you must create a plan to achieve success. If you are pursuing a degree, talk to an academic advisor. If you are going to run a marathon, create a weekly mileage plan. If you want to lose weight, calculate your daily calorie goals and track your intake and exercises. Whatever the goal, begin by thinking through a plan of execution.
If you use this recipe — set a challenging goal, recruit your supervisor to support you and create a plan to achieve success — you will look back on your time during this assignment with pride. When it comes to setting goals: Aim High, Airmen!