by Rik Nemanick, Ph.D.
Setting goals is a dynamic process that does not end with them being written down. To be motivating over time, goals must be reexamined periodically to both keep them in front of you and ensure they are up to date. Good goals will help guide coaching and mentoring conversations and keep the discussion headed in the right direction.
Below are some ideas on how to approach updating goals after working with a mentor or coach after six months to keep them relevant:
- Revive. Often mentees pull their mentoring goals out partway through a mentoring cycle to realize they have forgotten one of the goals. This situation is not uncommon if a mentee sets multiple development goals, as one will often dominate more of the conversations than another. Decide if this goal is still relevant, and whether you should devote energy to it.
- Revise. Sometimes protégés set goals that were too ambitious to accomplish within a year. Other times, they find the goal was not ambitious enough, and had been accomplished early in the mentoring process. If the goal itself is still relevant, you may want to either scale it back to be more reasonable or extend it to get to the next level.
- Rebuild. You might find the goals you set at the beginning are no longer relevant because circumstances have changed around you. If this is the case, you may want to step back and decide where your energy should be spent going forward. You may want to build new goals that better reflect your current reality.
- Reaffirm. Mentees also find that their goals are still relevant and that they are making good progress toward them. A good exercise midway through a mentoring process is to look back at the progress that has been made and look forward to the next steps toward the ultimate outcome.
Even if you find yourself revising or rebuilding your goals, you should still take stock of the progress you made toward the original goals you set, and celebrate the success you had. As Dr. Benjamin Mays said, “The tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach.”