Goal Setting & Mentorship

It has happened again: the holidays have come and gone and suddenly a new year is upon us. For many of us, 2016 marks the arrival of a season of hope and new beginnings. We reminisce about our accomplishments over the past year, feeling pride in having achieved the goals that we set for ourselves and perhaps recommitting to the goals that we seek to achieve in the new year. For many of us, this is the time for creating resolutions. Often these resolutions include things that we were unable to achieve in 2015, or new challenges that we hope to embrace.

The New Year is an excellent time to create goals for self-improvement and for bettering the lives of others. New Year’s resolutions are sometimes a challenge to create, and something that we put off. This happens because the resolutions and goals we come up with are vague and do not truly reflect what we want to achieve.

Our resolutions and goals for 2016 will be different. We will achieve them if we focus on what will benefit ourselves and benefit others as a result. As we create our resolutions for 2016, I would encourage taking a different approach to resolutions and goal-setting. Rather than drafting vague and unattainable goals, I encourage writing down resolutions which are defined, specific, and measurable, and including a resolution centered on mentorship. To receive instruction or guidance from a mentor can be life changing. Whether it’s a younger person receiving the instruction, an older person, or just a less experienced person, the experience can be profound. The mentor, this trusted counselor and guide, can make an immense difference in a person’s life. Being a mentor and being mentored can propel you to go further, and to do more than you ever thought possible. It can give you the confidence and strength to make a difference.

Mentorship is integral to our success. If we look back on our experiences, and consider the people who have had an influence on our lives, we are bound to find a mentor who has played some part, big or small, in leading us to where we are. If we look back, we are also bound to find that we have been a mentor to someone and have made a difference in their life. Creating a mentor-centered goal for 2016 is a beautiful gift that we can give to ourselves and to others.

Your mentor-centered goal for 2016 will likely encompass your other goals. Mentorship is broadly defined, covers a range of activities, and come in various forms. Even a small resolution which seems unimportant can be vastly profound through the lens of mentorship. For example, a resolution to meet a friend for coffee twice a month can be a mentorship goal. Sitting and talking with that friend for coffee is a form of mentorship. These meetings can be just what the friend needs to boost her confidence, and maybe meeting with this particular friend gives you such hope and positivity that you do not receive from anyone else. Mentorship does not require the traditional teacher-student image we conjure up when we think “mentoring.” We can define mentorship for ourselves. No matter how we define it, we can achieve it if we consider the positive impact it will have on our lives and others’ lives.

We all have a story about that one person who made a huge difference in our life. Whether we tell the story, or just periodically think about it, that person had a place in your life, and they made a difference. We should all go through life with this mindset. What a better place the world would be if we just made it a goal to give guidance to one person a day.

Thus, when making a mentor-centered goal for 2016, go beyond the abstract of “be a mentor.” Instead, consider what it means for you to be a mentor, or to be mentored, and write that down as a goal that is specific and attainable. The mentor-centered goal for me this year, which incidentally is also an academic goal, is to plan and participate in weekly lunch and study sessions with classmates at the University which I attend. What is your goal?