A Steady Pace

While working as a technology fellow at the University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, New Jersey, Kirstin L. Riddick envisioned a career in education. Over the next year, she devised a career plan and committed to it. “I did my research and met with numerous contacts,” says Riddick, 32. Without a degree in education, she learned she would have to do New Jersey’s Alternate Route Teacher Education Program to propel her into her new career.

After passing the Praxis exam in elementary education in September 2000, Riddick took a position at an elementary school working with fourth graders. Simultaneously, she completed a training program toward a master’s degree. She then worked for the school as a technology coordinator. By September 2004, Riddick was overseeing 15 technology coordinators in Newark’s Central and East Wards. Thanks to a combination of solid planning and a helping of fortitude, Riddick is completing the goals she set for herself.
In this third and final installment of our effective planning series, we illustrate how you can maintain your own forward thrust:

Effective Planning Strategies
Visualize your goal and work backward.
Application: “Once you have clarity about your reason or rationale, you must envision what you are seeking to accomplish,” says Fran Briggs, president of the Fran Briggs Cos., a personal and professional firm in Yuma, Arizona. Planning in reverse, Riddick began determining when to apply for positions, which impacted when she completed her master’s degree in education and so on. Visualization is key, asserts Briggs because, “You can’t hit what you can’t see.”

Resource: Use a journal to write out a reverse timeline: writing down your goal and its deadline, followed by target dates and tasks necessary for you to get to the immediate step before that. Also, read Creative Visualization: Use the Power of Your Imagination to Create What You Want in Your Life (New World Library; $12.95) by Shakti Gawain.

Enjoy all victories
Application: Celebrating the small victories keeps you from “losing sight of the big picture [and] why you’re planning to begin with,” says clinical psychologist E. Carol Webster of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It also “stimulates optimism and the energy to drive future success,” she adds. Baltimore-based motivational speaker and author Ty Howard says you could end up feeling “completely burned out by the time you do finish,” if you don’t stop to congratulate yourself as you move forward.

Resource: You can treat yourself in a myriad of ways, but at the very least, take a moment to breathe and appreciate how far you’ve come with each step you conquer. Read Life’s a Journey, Not a Sprint by Jennifer Lewis-Hall (Hay House; $13.95).

Keep going. Keep growing.
Application: “Do you want to be green and growing or ripe and dying?” asks Howard. He stresses that you have to keep yourself in a state of growth to sustain your progress. “Most plans, as nouns–simply jotted down without action behind them–become obsolete and fail,” says Thomas A. Gordon, a Philadelphia-based psychologist and founder and principal of TAGA