Are You Cyber Safe? iStratus Tips For Students.

With the school year well underway now, most students are focused on using cyberspace for projects, making some headway and achieving grades, and of course, socializing on Social Media. At the same time, they also need to be aware, staying up to date on phishing schemes, safe computing practices to guard data and sensitive information. Whether they are in elementary, high school, or college, today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce.

It’s an uncertain world out there in Cyberspace. Here at iStratus, we’d like to share some tips with the students in your life. 

From malware and scams to cyberbullying, it can be a vicious cycle of events. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to keep you, your kids, and your devices protected from the latest threats: 

Keep Software Up-To-Date

We almost feel like a broken record, however, keep the operating system, browser software, and apps fully updated with patches. Even new machines can have out-of-date software that leaves you at risk. Operating systems and applications are constantly being updated to fix bugs and address security issues. You should use automatic updates to ensure you’re using the most secure version of the software that is available. Also, review the privacy settings — when an app is updated, it may change your settings! 

Practice Safe Computer Usage

Use trusted apps and only browse to trusted websites. Malware is often hidden in apps that trick you into downloading them or in fake websites that lure you in with interesting pictures or stories! Make sure everyone who uses the device takes the same precautions. 

Malware Protection, It Does What It Says: Protects YOU

To put it simply, set your devices to update automatically and run virus scans at least once a week. Let’s not forget malware is specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems.

Malware today has become increasingly sophisticated and can evade antivirus software installing Ad and script-blocking browser plugins will help.

Most Internet and device security offer parental controls, which are great for managing applications that can be downloaded and the time spent on the device, whilst students are communicating with friends on social networks in a safe way. Enable security settings on devices, and as any software or apps are installed. Pay particular attention to information sharing options and be sure to verify your firewall to protect your information. 

Think Twice Before Sharing

It’s easy to get excited and overshare online. Be aware of divulging personal information on Social Media Platforms – such as school names, team names, and key interests which reveal particular details inadvertently. 

Be a Savvy Network User

In this day and age, this might seem like we’re stating the absolute obvious, however, reminders don’t hurt. 

Try not to access personal or financial information over unsecured public WiFi networks such as the “free WiFi” in coffee shops, bookstores, hotels, and schools, as this data can be easily intercepted and viewed by unauthorized people. Instead, consider using your smartphone’s more secure cellular signal or “hotspot” to surf online and take care of business.

Stay on Guard 

For students, there’s a general lack of privacy and personal space at school. Whether it’s a shared living space, crowded workspace, or the typically communal environment of a college campus, they’re continuously exposing their devices, leaving them vulnerable to access by others. 

The most important thing to remember or remind your kids of is to be aware of their surroundings. Be vigilant in keeping computing devices with you or locked in a safe and secure place. 

Avoid Jailbreaking Your Devices! 

Jailbreaking devices relate to gaining “root” access to it, which means disabling the manufacturer and operating system protections so there is access to functions, not originally intended to have access to. 

This access may allow greater functionality, on the same hand, however, it also reduces the security of devices, making them more susceptible to infectious malware. 

In addition, Jailbreaking devices essentially render them at greater risk of getting hacked, and malicious apps which phisher sensitive information disclosure. 

Frequently Backup Data

Given the growing risk of malware/virus infections known as “Ransomware,” iStratus recommends saving important data often. By definition, Ransomware holds a person’s files “hostage” until the victim recompenses the hacker. 

It is most practical to backup regularly, using both a physical storage device such as a USB flash drive, external hard drive or a cloud-based account, like iStratus uses to protect your files.

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”

~ Richard Feynman (1918 – 1988)

Bottom line, as we always say, we want you to stay safe out there on devices significantly central to our world. 

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Learn. Organize. Create.

Super-organized people are not born that way, as humans, we have to cultivate healthy habits, which help us stay organized.

So even if you think you are a very disorganized person, you can learn to be organized with iStratus. By jotting things down, ditching the unnecessary and systematizing things that matter, you will become an organized person as long as habits are put into practice.

In this article, we’ll address some essential habits for organizing your life more effectively with iStratus.

Lists Are Your Best Friend

We all know someone that remembers every birthday and anniversary. It’s not magic, more often than not dates are noted somewhere. Trying to remember things will not help you stay organized. Making a list of things stimulates our working memory. Recording important things via iStratus becomes a way of remembering, itemizing externally, and it’s much more permanent. 

Life doesn’t need to be complicated and stressful by retaining content in your head. iStratus can support lists for everything: shopping lists, holiday wish lists, and important dates like meetings and birthdays. Having that visual helps us remember far more effectively.

Stick to Schedules and Deadlines

Organized people don’t waste time. Keeping things organized goes hand-in-hand with staying productive. Stick to schedules for the day and week. It’s essential to make deadlines and set goals, and most importantly, stick to them!

Similarly, living a cluttered lifestyle inhibits the time or space you have to meet your deadlines or achieve your goals.

The objective of the iStratus calendar is there to help you keep track of those deadlines, leaving more time for the things you love. 

Do yourself a favor think about things you want to achieve this year and record what you need to do to achieve them. This sets the ball rolling. It’s a positive. Life is short; we’ve also got to do what matters to us most. 

Avoid Procrastination Now

Speaking of what matters most, the longer we wait to undertake something the more difficult it becomes to achieve it. In some way, we all want less stress and fewer demands in our lives. Being organized helps to combat this. Investing the effort to finalize tasks as soon as possible will take the weight off of your shoulders. Consider the steps you need to take and tick them off that iStratus checklist. If you can get something finished right now, then go do it!

De-clutter Your Spaces Regularly

Find time to organize your spaces regularly, including your electronic ones! Highly organized people make sure they find time every week to clear things. Ultimately, this helps us to breathe. It is not new news, staying organized doesn’t happen on its own. Set those alarmed reminders in iStratus to continuously and consistently uphold structure.

Have you ever felt like you don’t have the space you need? 

Convert to an electronic application like iStratus rather than being mountains of physical paper. This way, files can be effortlessly tailored to suit your needs. They also become transferrable, portable, and best, you avoid the paper overload, which can feel suffocating to our spaces.

Everything Requires a Home

Maintaining an organized life means keeping things in specified places. Organized people keep order through color-coding or filing. Whether it’s electronically or physically, be creative, yet structured about finding places for things utilizing a system that works for you.

Delegate Responsibilities Equitability 

An organized life is one not overfilled with responsibilities, meetings, and deadlines. In truth, these responsibilities are lessened, because they have slowly organized out through reasonable delegation. In this regard, there are two things we recommend for achieving this effective change:

  • Check out your to-do list or create one. 
  • Choose one task that you can remove or allocate with help of someone else within equitable limits. 

Can you already feel the stress immediately falling away at just the thought of this? Taking small steps today, plants seeds of change for the future.

“The great French Marshall Lyautey once asked his gardener to plant a tree. The gardener objected that the tree was slow-growing and would not reach maturity for 100 years. The Marshall replied, ‘In that case, there is no time to lose; plant it this afternoon!’”

~ John F. Kennedy

Focus On Systemizing and Create Peace

Invest a little effort. Well, make that a lot, when necessary. Upon effective delegation of responsibilities and scheduling, systematizing our priorities becomes easier to focus upon.

Staying organized is not a breeze. It requires commitment, recognizing that it all will pay dividends for long-term benefit later.

Sometimes you might feel like giving up, it seems tough and understandably so. But remember, what you are investing in is learning, organizing, and creating change in ways that are meaningful to you. Let’s go for it.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

What Day Is It?

Forget Monday-itis, we have seemingly evolved into “days-itis”, of who-knows-what Thursday of the week, or month it is. 

Yes, we will dub what we will call the “Covid-19 Effect” which has taken hold of our lives. Between the masks and social distancing, it has become a fight to even remember life before the Pandemic, let alone what day it is. 

And like to many, you are probably finding yourself immersed in the struggle of staying focused. This “temporary” work-from-home experiment that began with high hopes of seamlessly regulating both your employment responsibilities and your downtime ambitions has blurred lines. By being at home you are simply continually distracted and disrupted by everything.

You are not alone.

The logistics of finding a silent, and comfortable space, for the perfect focus and carving chunks of time out to concentrate solely on your work, is next to impossible. 

We want to provide reassurance that the idea of working productively is a specifically learned art of juggling, as opposed to a formulated scientific theory, that runs like a tight ship.

We’re here to support that.

We know that sometimes, productivity feels like it is going out the window. The truth is, the “norm” of what we knew has evaporated. Yes, we are experiencing what some may call the “personal disconnect.” However, all is not lost.

Together, let’s look at multiple ways to maintain focus and lessen those remote-working distractions, and hopefully, this will help you feel like you have some direction and peace of mind.

You Can’t Control Everything

Carpe diem, live and let live, or whatever philosophy it is that you choose. While clichés might appear to be extracted directly from a self-help book – it applies directly to effective time management skills just as much releasing the emotional baggage that we hold within.

It’s common sense, the more you try to gain control over situations that are completely out of your grasp of control, the more stress and pressure you will feel.

Our minds will naturally seek out distractions, rather than address the root of these feelings. Hours later you find yourself wondering how you ended up so off task for what accumulates into hours.

Goals are not achieved like this. iStratus, recommends setting yourself personal deadlines. Place reminders and on your calendar and stick with it step by step. By letting go of external factors you can’t control, you will open up to a feeling of freedom.

Schedules Matter 

Being free means prioritizing. Clearly attributing chunks of time for tasks is one easy way to limit distractions. 

If you break up your day into defined blocks of time, One, two, or 3 hour increments, you’re less likely to get distracted.

Balance is everything; so create a mix of both work and social interactions to break the monotony and potential distraction. Perhaps check your emails or take 5 to call Mom.

Brain Gym

Rev up your internal engine, before getting started on your to-do list.

Have that cup of coffee, read a few articles from your favorite magazine, or send a few texts, to allow your brain to warm up a bit before “hitting the hard yards.” This way, you will feel more motivated to start your tasks and less tempted by distractions.

Set Boundaries

Do external forces—often dictate your schedule? 

Develop strict boundaries for yourself when working from home, guard time when you’re “on the clock.”

Consider the times when you are usually most productive. Save intense work periods for when you tend to feel at your best. Don’t forget to mark off your objectives from your iStratus checklist as you achieve them too.

Triggers?

Ok, we all have weaknesses and are aware of things that cause us stress.

Time wasting is a big one. The guilt associated with that catches up. Thus, a purposeful amount of space to breathe will prevent you from falling down a rabbit hole of Facebook pointlessness instead.

Multitasking Zone

As mentioned earlier, there are a thousand and one distractions, in the four walls of the home – a load of dishes from the dishwasher to the foghorn of Netflix calling, or that buzz of our devices with exciting notifications. 

We’re in for a ride of distractions. People who commonly multitask are not, as assumed, short on attention spans. It is more about prioritizing. Make sure you pinpoint the important tasks and try to address them before the day is over. And breathe.

Body Talk 

We all hit walls. When your brain has reached its limit and your body feels much less energetic, listen. Know when you’re no longer able to focus. Stop. Pay attention. Wind down. Your body needs time to reset. Take the time to decompress to be more productive long term

Remember, stay focused; you’re not alone with the “days-itis.”

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Skills for Successful Leadership

Time management, scheduling, prioritizing those to-do and DON’T lists, for project supervision, are all critical elements to organizational skills that require consistent communication, multi-tasking, flexibility and adaptability. 

Failing to organize effectively may lead to chaos or, at least, an increase in your stress levels. 

Yes, strong organizational skills are central to being an intelligent and inspirational leader.

Truthfully, it will hardly be inspiring if they see you as disorganized and losing the plot due to it.

So, what are the best organizational skills for successful leadership and how can you best develop them using iStratus? 

In this article, we’ll explore some major organizational elements that every leader needs to know to create a calm environment for productivity in their professional lives and hopefully, reduced stress.

Are you ready? If you’re disorganized, applying these skills using iStratus will change your life! 

Project Management

Are you in control of everything you need to focus on to effectively undertake your job? 

Is the correct information always at your fingertips? 

Do you have a clear plan of action every day?

Or does your desk appear to be a bombsite while you’re drowning in emails?

That’s a lot of questions right? 

These are the things you need to be asking yourself regularly if you’re always seemingly in danger of missing a deadline, in a rush and if quite frankly – it’s like winning the lottery having clean undergarments, let alone, clothes pressed for work in the morning!

Bottom line: Your ability to organize yourself not only has a critical impact on your professional success but there’s a knock-on effect upon your team members too.

As a leader, you’ll likely manage projects while simultaneously managing your team. You don’t need to be a ‘Manager’ to handle tasks, however, you do require certain skills to ensure organizational success. 

You can effectively use iStratus to manage timelines and deadlines on the in-built calendar for external clients and internal responsibilities within the workplace. 

iStratus technology allows you to share files and schedules, ensuring clear communication, whether it be meeting in person, setting those reminders for sending emails, or setting Zoom calls and instant messaging when preferred. 

Negotiation and risk management are also valued skills. Record risks, predict possible issues that may arise, and have solutions at hand in your iStratus notes file, in case a hitch does arise.

Multi-Tasking At its Best

Most of us multitask constantly without a second thought, be it: writing an email and answering questions, while checking a text and watching TV or listening to music, and so forth.

The ability to juggle multiple tasks and complete all of them efficiently and effectively in the workplace is key to successful leadership.

Quality Communication

While managing projects, you’ll be responsible for communicating with others who are directly involved in the project either internally or externally, which is where consistent and clear communication has an impact. If messages are misunderstood, tasks can become unorganized, and assignments can get messy.

The ease of sharing features in iStratus means that everyone is on the same page! Phew!

And employees should feel comfortable discussing trials and victories, so they know exactly what works and what requires improvement for the overall success of the corporation. 

Providing an “open-door policy” will minimize intimidation and contribute to positive workplace culture. They’re more likely to accept feedback and constructive criticism when they’re able to discuss situations with you. This is essential for anyone’s happiness, which of course, likely keeps the organization, organized!

“Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.”
~ William Arthur Wood

4 Visible Habits of Organized People

The more you can live and work in an organized way – the faster you’ll change your organizational habits for the better. 

iStratus suggests, four everyday strategies worth considering:

  1. Use our calendar. If you record things across various applications, it becomes inevitably difficult to effectively coordinate everything. Instead, if you record it all digitally, you’ll find that the technology can pull everything together for you.
  2. Schedule smaller tasks. If a task requires action beforehand (like grabbing coffees for the staff meeting), schedule those into your agenda also. Missing what might appear as a minor thing can have larger knock-on effects upon everything else.
  3. Celebrate the small wins. If you “check off” multiple things on your To-Do List, take a break. Have a cup of coffee, or allow yourself some free time to check your favorite foodie blog.
  4. Place value on your time. Having a chaotic home life will bring its own set of issues. Whether prioritizing your professional tasks for the week or coordinating family commitments, consider how to make every second count. 
Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Time Management For Teens

If you have been at loggerheads with your teen’s mood and coinciding words like: “Just stop nagging Me!” “You don’t understand”! Or “Mom! We’re going to be late! We need to go!” You’ve no doubt witnessed your teen unravel under the stress of “time management and anxiety” in action.

Our world these days is over-stimulating, and finalizing assignments involves coordination between the rational processes and emotional needs that play on our minds. For the teenager’s brain, time management is even more difficult. Executive functioning which trains the brain to plan, organize, and execute tasks in a timely manner is neurological activity, intertwined and complicated with an emotional response — Hi there, anxiety! 

When it comes to juggling everything, it’s rough. If you have conflicts with your teen concerning time – before leaping in to rescue them from overwhelming feelings, psychological studies recommend, validating their underlying anxieties. 

More often than not, the reasons for time challenges are associated with tackling emotions. Research shows that identifying feelings and implementing easily accessible time management strategies helps teens’ deal with worries. 

Addressing Time Management with iStratus

We all exhibit an inner procrastinator at times. We can easily fall into mastering the art of dreading something or avoiding tasks until it becomes too much to bear. If your teen evades things, they probably want to avoid failure.

While they’re fully aware of their avoidance, they may not realize its intrinsic protection from painful feelings. The mere thought of study the night before an exam, or not being seated before the bell rings brings anxiety.

Using iStratus as an Academic Planner each day can help your teen visualize what’s ahead so they can plan and manage what they’re required to do; and when they will have the time to do it. In other words, they see the whole picture; your teen has their day mapped out.

You can easily create a list of timeslots in iStratus with the Checklist feature, so that daily scheduling is clear for “ticking off.” For example: 

🗹   Timetable: Wednesday, 5/5/21

  •    Morning Homeroom @ 8:40 – 9:00 am

🗹    English @ 9:05 – 9:55 am

  • Math @ 10:05 – 10:50 am

🗹 Lunch @ 11:00 – 11:45 am

🗹 Social Studies (S.S.) @ 12:05 – 12:50 pm

🗹 Study Period @ 1:00 -1:45 pm

🗹    Recess @ 1:50 – 2:05 pm

🗹 Visual Arts @ 2:10- 2:50 pm

  •    Afternoon Homeroom @ 2:55 – 3:20 pm
  •    Finish Homework 4 S.S. & Math @ 4:15 – 5:15 pm
  •    Prepare gear for Tennis Practice tomorrow afternoon

Shifting Time Management Anxiety

Does your teen underestimate how long tasks will take and then feel surprised by the overwhelm they experience? 

Do you hear statements like: “It wasn’t meant to take this long!” 

Your teen can adapt Stratus to:

  • Avoid spending too much time working on projects until they’re “perfect”. If they have a hard time knowing when a task is complete, checking something off within a deadline helps.
  • Finish things with a clear goal in mind, so they avoid feeling powerless, victimized by their to-do lists.
  • Calendar multiple events with reminders. 
  • Highlight after-school and weekend commitments. The ‘POST IT’ Note feature comes in handy for this.

Visual appeal is important for motivation and engagement too. Your teen can jazz up their Checklists with custom color themes and emojis.

All options are easily duplicated and edited. iStratus is a support tool that helps combat feeling overwhelmed. Everyone is different, keep it simple and use what works.

Teens rely heavily on the approval of others to feel good about themselves. They often lack trust in their ability to complete tasks, when there’s a lot on their plate. 

It’s a struggle with their internal gauge that indicates to them what is manageable and what’s too much. “So long as you’ve tried your best that’s Good Enough” is not part of their vocabulary. Realistically, the words: “more,” “better,” and “improve” are. 

Thus, for a plan to truly be effective, teens require a system, which displays their ENTIRE week at a glance. Akin to adults, it also helps teens to set goals: “What are their main ones? Nonjudgmentally naming them, will help navigate and apply the strategies that iStratus hopes to encourage.

“Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement, and failure. Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success.”

~ Brian Adams

Awareness and persistence are everything. Driven by fear, teens will attempt to avert criticism by poking holes in their own assignments before anyone else does. Being over-prepared with iStratus is a way for them to feel in control with increased confidence for managing their anxiety. 

Together, we can time things right.

Live life and roll well with iStratus.

Workspace Design

When an employee is genuinely engaged in work, they feel invigorated, dedicated, and absorbed.  

An engaged employee finds the task so fulfilling that he/she brings nearly limitless physical and mental energy to the job and is energized by its pursuit.  They willingly show perseverance and tenacity in overcoming the challenges of the task.

At the pinnacle of work, engagement is flow.  

Flow, a term created by psychologist and author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, is a state of heightened performance during which an individual feels, “satisfied, alert, in effortless control, confident, and at the peak of their abilities.”  

During flow, a person can become completely absorbed in work and lose the sense of time passing.  

Csikszentmihalyi contends that achieving flow could be critical to developing a meaningful career and experiencing a joyful life.  

We should all be so lucky to have job tasks that leverage the perfect intersection of our strengths and interests, at just the right level of challenge to bring about flow.

While you should strive for this, is your workspace designed for engagement and flow?  

Without a workspace that’s conducive to this focused work, it will be more challenging to engage and find a state of flow.

Below are factors to consider as you assess whether your current workspace allows you to maximize your work.

An “Engaging” Workspace

Ergonomic workstation

In genuinely engaged work, you are likely to spend long periods of time at your desk.  It’s critical that you can work comfortably.  Preferably, opt for a variable height desk that allows you to cycle between sitting and standing.  This not only supports a healthy back, but a change in position can also provide a small brain break as well. It also promotes creativity. 

Research has found that people are more creative when standing or walking vs. sitting.  

Also, make sure that your monitor is at a comfortable eye level and directly in front of you to protect your neck.  

If you work on a laptop, this may require purchasing another monitor to get proper alignment for both keyboarding and looking at the monitor.

Lighting

Choosing the right light not only affects how you are visually processing information but also affects you mentally and physically as well.  

Cool blue (the color associated with natural daylight) is the ideal color light for a workspace.  

Blue light keeps you alert, boosts your mood, and increases productivity. If you have no window and are working under fluorescent lights, supplement your lighting with a task light or floor lamp with a blue-white bulb.  

Also, consider a desk-top SAD light to mimic natural light.  

It’s important to consider the brightness or direction of lighting. Opt for no-glare or lower-wattage bulbs for overhead lights to reduce glare.  

Alternately, you could remove some of the high-wattage bulbs or tubes in an existing hanging light fixture. By adding adjustable, low-glare task lighting, you can move the light as needed to reduce glare on your screen while still having adequate light for paperwork.  

Uplighting and diffusers can help control glare too. If you’re lucky enough to have a window in your office, don’t forget adjustable blinds to control potential glare as well.

Noise Control

Hopefully, your office observes some quiet hours for concentrated work. If not, an open-door policy can derail your workflow.  

It’s ok to set limits and establish closed-door, quiet time. You can always reconnect with your colleagues on a break.  

Snack Time

You can’t think if you’re hungry and dehydrated.  That’s a fast track to fatigue, headache, and a lack of focus.  

Keep a stash of healthy snacks like fruit or trail mix and water on hand to fuel your body during these extended periods of engaged work

Lose the Clock

The goal of engaged work is flow, and with flow comes total absorption in the task to the point of losing all sense of time.

If a clock is staring down at you, ticking in your ear, flow can be hard to get into.  Remove or temporarily hide the clock, even the clock on your computer desktop.

Also, protect your smartphone, turn off alerts and notifications, and add an away message on your email to minimize possible distractions.

Inspirational Setting

Engaging work requires creativity. Does your space inspire creative thought and problem-solving?  

If not, it might be time for a workspace re-do.

We’ve already talked about how blue lighting is optimal, but don’t stop there with the color blue.  Blue is also a color that we subconsciously associate with openness and tranquility, according to a 2009 research study.  

Researchers found that while in this de-stressed state of openness and tranquility, people were receptive to new ideas and, therefore, more creative.

If you don’t have blue in your space now, consider blue walls or artwork/décor.  

While you’re at it, take another cue from nature’s color palette and add some green.  Adding plants can bring the nature vibe indoors and allow you to reap the relaxing benefits while at work.

Also, if you want to produce inspiring work, it might help to work in an inspiring space.  Add images or artifacts that inspire and motivate you. 

You spend hours every week working, so why not strive for engaged work?

If your current workspace doesn’t support that goal, it’s worth taking some time to design a space that inspires the possibility of engagement and flow.

You may not reach that goal tomorrow, but with practice and persistence and a little help from your surroundings, you’ll be gratified with more meaningful work, you’ll boost your overall happiness, and your company will benefit from a superior product and a more satisfied employee.  To find more strategies to maximize your work life, visit iStratus.com.


6 Tips for Effective Goal Setting

The beginning of the year inspires many of us to reflect, assess where we are professionally or personally, and, hopefully, set goals for the New Year.

There’s something about the flip of the calendar that fills us with a sense of opportunity, excitement, or curiosity for what the year ahead might bring.  

If the year just past was not what we’d hoped, we might look to the New Year as our clean slate; our chance to makeover some part of ourselves, our jobs, our organizations anew.  

However, inspiration can fall flat in no time if you don’t create an exact plan of action driven by a foundation of effective goal setting.

Why is goal setting important?

Think of goal setting as mapping a course.  Without setting yourself (or your team/organization) on a specific path, you might as well be a rudderless ship adrift on the ocean.

Where your ship lands might be lovely, but just as likely, your destination could be awful. You’ve left it up to chance.

How will you know if you’ve had a prosperous voyage if you didn’t know where you were sailing in the first place?

Does that sound like a plan for success?  

Success doesn’t usually happen by accident.

Goal setting propels you forward with inspiration, intention, and purpose.

The act of goal setting develops key characteristics of the successful person.

Research by Locke & Lathan in 2006 found that setting goals result in motivation, self-confidence, and autonomy.

These qualities not only breed success but happiness as well.

We know goal setting is a positive, but what does effective goal setting look like?

Six Tips for Effective Goal Setting

Tip 1. Be passionate

The best, most fulfilling goals are those for which you feel passionate.  

Ideally, this is not an “I should” kind of goal, because others tell you it’s important.  

Or, if it’s a team or organizational goal, craft a goal that is one your team/organization can genuinely get behind because it’s closely aligned with your core mission.

Without passion, you’re likely to flop.

Tip 2. Set a goal that stretches you

Being passionate about your goal is important, but setting a goal that insists on significant growth (and maybe even a little risk) is critical.

What do you really gain by setting a goal that’s too easy?  A checked box?  Bragging rights?

Who cares if there’s no real growth.  This is where a growth mindset is truly your friend.

Tip 3. Craft a goal with clarity

And, it’s not enough to think about a lofty goal in some vague, hopeful, unspecified terms.

Zero in on that passionate goal, but follow up with a detailed, clearly-outlined plan of actionable steps, and measurements to take to assess progress.

One popular system for setting and achieving goals is called OKR–Objectives and Key Results.

OKR was developed in 1975 at Intel by Andy Grove.  

Today, OKR is a system followed by the likes of Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, ING Bank, Target, and Bono, to name a few.

The key tenets of OKR are:

Objectives: The WHAT of your goal.  This is the passion and inspiration and can be a little more “big picture” rather than detailed.

Intel’s original model suggested monthly goals so they could be agile and adjustments could be made quickly.

For example, your objective could be–I want to be an attentive parent.

Key Results:  The ACTIONS or HOW you will go about attaining your goal and MEASURING your progress.

KRs must be quantifiable and should number between 2 and 5.

For the attentive parent example, your OKRs could be, I want to be an attentive parent by spending at least 30 minutes of one-on-one time with my child at least 4 days per week and initiate family time at least 2 weekends a month for the next month.

I will (Objective) as measured by (this set of Key Results).

For more information about OKR, check out this TED Talk or visit https://felipecastro.com.

Tip 4. Write it down

It’s not enough to feel passion, you must put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write down your goal.

Psychologist Gail Matthews at Dominican University conducted a 2015 research study that found goal achievement is 42% more likely when goals are written.

Tip 5. Accountability works

The same Dominican University study also found that people who not only wrote their goals, but shared their goals and/or action plan with a friend, and committed to periodic progress reports were significantly more likely to succeed in reaching their goals.

Commit to a friend to chat every week.  

Or for a team/organizational goal, schedule recurring progress review meetings and commit to making them non-negotiable.

Tip 6. Don’t quit when the going gets tough

There are times when you may need to abandon a goal.

This is especially true if it’s one that was ill-conceived—you’re not passionate about it, it was an “I should” goal.

But entrepreneur Molly Cain writing for Forbes warns us that more often, goals are abandoned prematurely because of fear.

Maybe it’s a fear of failure. What’s going to happen to my career if I don’t reach my goal? Or maybe fear of success. How will I possibly manage it all if this business gets off the ground?

Remember; growth involves discomfort.

Just like those leg pains you got as a kid before you shot up two inches, growth in your professional and personal life also involves discomfort.

Discomfort in the unknown. Discomfort in the uncertainty of success and putting your neck out there.  But, in the end, growth towards a goal for which you feel passionate is worth discomfort for the chance of earning exhilarating success.

What supports can I use to help me meet my goals?

Technology can be a powerful tool in achieving any goal.

The iStratus DayPlanner app for iPhone has multiple functionalities directly aligned with the goal-achievement process.

For instance, when you clearly document your goal, your actionable steps, and record progress measurements, those documents can always be at hand and top-of-mind.

By saving and storing them securely, you have ready access wherever you are.

Trying to map out your action plan?

Use the task list function tied to your calendar to make sure you are on target with scheduled tasks.

Keep yourself accountable by adding color-coded meetings on your calendar (or multiple integrated calendars, if needed) for progress check-ins and deadlines.

Keep your key results doc linked to your calendar at your goal dates to compare actual progress vs. plan.

By following the tips above to craft an inspiring, growth-oriented goal, to implement a clear action plan whose results will be accurately measured, accountability partner(s), and guts to persevere, you put yourself in the best position to set and achieve significant goals and experience personal growth.