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Viewpoint: Attacking your goals one bite at a time

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By Dana McConnell

Seventeen. No, that’s not my age (I have three children — one in college). Nor is it the number of pounds I want to lose this year (but would settle for half that). Seventeen is actually the number of active goals I have right now. These represent my personal goals, the family’s goals and our organizational goals for the Center for Developmental Services. That may seem like a lot, and it is, but I find I stay more focused when I know where I’m going.

Dana McConnell (Photo provided)I have heard that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time, and while I don’t plan to eat an elephant any time soon, there is some wisdom in this saying. During the past month, I took a moment to breathe and reassess progress toward each objective. What I found was that I enjoy the challenge of setting my goals high. They are probably set higher than I actually expect to achieve, but without pushing myself, I will never know if I could have achieved them. 

For example, I’m not a runner. I don’t like running. I don’t even understand why other people like running. Still, I make myself get outside a few days a week to jog as far as I can before stopping to walk. In my 10 years of doing this, I have only made it past the 1.5 mile marker three times. While that may not seem far, keep in mind that my initial goal was only one mile. Today, that goal is two miles, but I’m fine if I actually never get there. I just keep trying because one day I may surprise myself.

The goals for my home are just as lofty. I would love to say that at any given time if a guest were to come over, the dishes would be done, the laundry would be folded, and my grocery shopping would be completed. Except for a planned visit that was communicated at least three weeks early, this is impossible. Even with the best family support, our home will never be immaculate. It’s not practical. I still try, though, as I find productivity therapeutic.

As we move into the new year, we each have a fresh opportunity to create new goals and assess progress from previously set ones. It is the perfect time to realign ourselves, pivot if necessary, and continue the climb. Just don’t give up.

If you have the capacity to set work-related goals, whether for yourself or for a team, don’t be afraid to go bold. Let’s say your team is measured by the number of new clients or sales volume. Rather than shoot for the high end of the benchmark, strive to double that. Brainstorm on what it would take for that kind of growth. Involve input from your team to think full-spectrum if social media, advertising, travel and headcount weren’t limited by budgetary constraints. What creative ideas could help bridge the funding gap for those resources? Sometimes challenging yourself and your team beyond the comfort zone can ignite a wealth of inspiration.

The Center for Developmental Services has some grand ideas as well. We plan to renovate our lobby to make it more fun for our young clients and their siblings who come for therapy. We are expanding day care space in the Wonder Center to serve more medically-complex children. We are also adding a new direct service to assist families with intake and service coordination. While these goals will take resources, we’re grateful to our staff and community who have stepped up to embrace the challenge.

Each of us may never achieve all the personal and work-related goals we’ve set for ourselves, but we should expect our best effort toward them. Just keep moving forward as often as possible, even when it’s one step at a time. The end result may surprise you!

Dana McConnell is the executive director of the Center for Developmental Services in Greenville. She can be reached at Dana.McConnell@cdservices.org.

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