Wondering How to Make a Difference in Your City? Start with Purpose.

My last week’s post gives guidance on how to develop your goals. The first step was to start with purpose, and I want to dive a bit deeper in how you can do that. Many people may think that your purpose will find you, so you can wait until it comes. However, John Coleman argues that “in achieving professional purpose, most of us have to focus as much on making our work meaningful as in taking meaning from it.” Take purpose into your own hands and develop your own personal purpose statement, and relate it to the work you do everyday. I promise you this will make your current work more fulfilling. Here are a few tips in creating a purpose statement:

Take time to reflect on what matters most. In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, suggests to visualize your funeral with all your loved ones attending and speaking about you. What you would like them to say about you? What will they say you are most remembered for?

Write it out. Whatever you visualized above, write it out on paper. It may be vague and not make much sense at first, this is okay. As long as you start, you can gain momentum to continue the process.

Let it evolve. Your purpose statement will evolve as you grow and change. Redefine it whenever you feel it is not capturing what you truly want to work towards. I suggest keeping it in a journal, calendar, phone notes, or somewhere you check regularly. This will help keep what you purpose statement is.

Developing Goals for Growth

It’s that time of year when people are buying gym memberships and running early in the morning because of their New Years resolutions. By February, the gym is back to its normal numbers of people and people are again wondering why they couldn’t follow their resolutions. How can urban planners develop the right resolutions to actually make an impact to their communities? First, change the vocabulary and develop goals, not resolutions.

Goals are one of the most important tools for people to improve their cities to be more equitable, environmentally friendly, economically viable, etc. Without goals, people can work endlessly without working towards something of meaning or significance. In the end, when things get tough and/or tedious, the hard work dwindles, frustration takes over, and people spend their time waiting for Friday. Goals give direction and have a powerful affect on productivity and fulfillment. So how can you create goals that lead to success?

Start with purpose. Why are you in the business in improving your city, community, or region? Use Toyoda’s technique and ask yourself why 5 times. This will help determine why you are an urban planner or why you want to improve communities, or why you want to help people. Give it a try.

Without goals, people can work endlessly without working towards something of meaning or significance.

Align goals to your values. Does this goal mean something to you? Is it in tune with what matters most to you? The goal may not initially seem like it is, however try to make a connection with your goal. For example, my goal is to save $17K by July. Initially this may sounds bland and not motivating, however I connected this goal to be financially wealthy so I can preserve land for people to enjoy nature and build a camp to connect kids to nature. It now has much more meaning to me personally and emotionally and I’m much more committed to achieving it.

Be specific. It’s OK to start with a vague goal, but work to create a specific goal that defines the actions needed to achieve the vague goal. For example, my vague goal was to start a website that improves leadership in urban planners. This was a good start, however there wasn’t something specific for me to determine if I achieved that goal or not. Now, my goal is to write 52 posts for the year, or 1 post each week by Sunday night. This may not improve leadership if the posts are garbage, however it gets me started to put content on this site for you the reader to benefit from. Determine if your goals are habit goals or achievement goals. Michael Hyatt introduced me to the concept that some goals are habits (daily, weekly, quarterly, etc.), or some have an end result.

Make it fun. Research has shown (see below for info) that when people working on their goals feel a sense of enjoyment, although tough and difficult, they are more likely to achieve them. When making your goals specific, figure out an activity that you will enjoy doing that will bring your goals closer. For example, I enjoy reading, and to help achieve writing 1 post each week, I use the content from my reading into my posts. You can find a way to make your goal fun by using creativity and resourcefulness.

Make them measurable. When will you achieve your goal? How can you incorporate numbers to your goal? This helps determine if you actually achieved your goals and evaluate during your execution how close you are to achieving goal and if there is something you need to reevaluate. Without some sort of measurement, I find myself wondering if I’m achieving my goal or not.

So what are you goals for 2019? Leave them comments so I can tailor my website to provide content and resources for you!

You can find more info on goals and where I learned some of these tips on my goals page.