In my job, I see many people come out of their comfort zones to pursue those personal goals they have set for themselves. Far too often though, I come across those who ask me, “how can I go to school when I work part time, and have children?!” A large part of the military community knows all too well the meaning of self-sacrifice. We put aside our personal goals for our family, for our children, and some of us, for our country.
I wrote this article to inspire those self-sacrificing individuals to let them know it is okay and you can pursue YOUR own personal goals while still juggling other important priorities. Here are a few tips to help you through:
- Plan ahead
In a hectic world with multiple busy schedules, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals. Piano recitals, practice schedules and field assignments all overlap, and quite honestly, fry your brain when you try and keep it straight. The key to fitting your personal goals and new schedule in with other family members is to be organized and plan it out.
- Be Realistic
It’s easy to write in your planner that you are going to dedicate 4 hours to school Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night; but after 3 commutes, forgetting to cook dinner, and homework for the little ones, it’s easy to want to crawl into bed and sleep into the next day! So know when your busier days are and plan around them.
Brick and mortar schools are not for everyone and may not be right for you. The majority of the military community is moved every 1.5-3 years, nowhere near enough time to finish a degree at a local college. Consider your online schooling options! Most options are flexible enough to allow you to do your work between the hours of 4am and 11pm! Plenty of options and plenty of room for your family!
- Pace and reward yourself
Know that it’s okay to break goals up! My very motivated and ambitious best friend took 3 years to complete high school – and only took another three to complete two Bachelors degrees. As for me, I am going on year five. It’s ok to set several small goals! Small goals allow you to straighten out your priorities, and re-motivate yourself as you complete each goal! Feel free to reward yourself as you accomplish each benchmark. Whether you are on the two year plan or five year plan as long as you are striving for success you will get there!
- Stay Organized
Whether you are an extreme planner or a pen and paper kind of gal/guy, find a log system that works for you – and LOG IT ALL: Canceled practices, rescheduled appointments, when an assignment is due etc. It will allow you to keep your priorities where they belong. You won’t be reading a book during your daughter’s piano recital, and you won’t be watching TV during your study time! Sticking to your organizational strategies will set your weeks and months up for success!
- Have and Utilize your Support System
This is the most important ingredient in your recipe for success. Share your goals with someone you trust – whether it’s your spouse, your parents, a study buddy, or even your kids! These people will be your BIGGEST cheerleaders on those days you feel defeated and will be your greatest encouragement on your most demotivated days! They will not just become your “why” but also your “how”.
You may tell yourself your dream is out of reach, but by surrounding yourself with people who will only encourage and lift you up, you will be on the right path towards reaching your goals!