Breaking Down Long-Term Goals into Short-Term Wins

We’re two months into the new year and some of us might have already crafted the ‘perfect’ plan of success…but guess what? It’s very likely that months will pass, life experiences will get the best of us, and we’ll forget the long-term goals that we’ve set for ourselves. Studies have shown that approximately 8 percent of individuals who set New Year’s goals actually achieve them.

That means that approximately 92 percent of us set goals and never reach them. Perhaps we never reach them because we’ve bitten off more than we can chew.

When we create and set long-term goals, it is important to remember that we must also include short-term action steps that represent small victories toward our ultimate goals. If you’re the type of person who is easily overwhelmed with long-term planning, here’s how you can break down your long-term goals into manageable, short-terms wins.

 

Identify Purpose and Set an Intention

An intention, at its core, is a vision statement that points to your end goal. In this case, you want to create an intention that allows you to see the purpose in your long-term goal. For example, if you’ve ordered delivery every night for the past two weeks and you want to make a shift and cook every day this week, then you may set an intention that says, “This week, I want to save money by cooking homemade meals for myself and my family.” The intention, now, creates purpose, saves money, gets you closer to family, and clears a path for the creation of action steps.

Now, this may seem like an unattainable goal, but with action steps––small achievables––anything is possible. Some reasonable action steps might include:

 

  • Making a categorized grocery list (i.e., Fruits, Vegetables, Meats, Grains, etc)
  • Cleaning the kitchen to prepare for meal preparation
  • Preparing/cooking the meals
  • Using portioned containers to store meals

 

Hold Yourself Accountable With Clear Action Steps

After setting our intentions, we should start thinking of how the intentions will be accomplished by planning our actions. Let’s be honest –– we can set intentions all day long, but if we don’t act on them, we’ll never accomplish them. Acting on our intentions keeps us accountable to our coworkers, supervisors, friends, and most importantly, our families. A successful action plan should include the following but can be revised, depending on the situation:

 

  • A clear definition of the goal
  • Required steps to complete the goal
  • All accountable parties
  • A timeline for completion
  • Tangible items needed for success
  • Metrics that validate the effectiveness of the action plan

 

Now, you also might be familiar with SMART goals. If you’ve never heard of SMART goals before, here’s a breakdown of how they work:

 

  • S – specific
  • M – measurable
  • A – attainable
  • R – relevant
  • T – timely

 

Celebrate Your Short-Term Wins

You owe it to yourself to celebrate even the smallest of wins. It not only keeps you motivated, but also shows that you find value in every accomplishment. Even if the short-term win was a fraction of the goal, you’re still one fraction closer to the end!

 

Connect with Alpha Kappa Psi for Goal Achievement Support 

Alpha Kappa Psi holds true to the values of Brotherhood, Knowledge, Integrity, Service, and Unity. As we share our education and experiences with you, please reach out for support or more information if you are having difficulties forming or achieving your goals.

 

 

Calculated Risk Assessment Checklist

Whether making an investment, changing careers, planning a residential move, entering a relationship, or starting a business, there are many times in life it’s best to look carefully before you leap. In other words, you want to ensure the risk you are taking is a calculated one. A calculated risk is taken after you consider all the hazards, potential impact, and possible rewards of your action or inaction.

Before taking major risks, we all wish for security and that rolling the dice will pay off. While nothing in life is guaranteed, following the steps of due diligence described in this checklist can help you feel more confident taking the next big step.

Qualitative Risk Analysis Checklist

Qualitative risk analysis means thinking through the specifics of your risk, including the probability of the outcome for which you are aiming. For instance, if you are planning a move to get new career opportunities, will your target city be home to what you want? In established business procedures, this evaluation involves putting your risk on a matrix to get a visual for just how, well, risky it really is.

Even without defined project management procedures at work, a qualitative risk analysis process helps you identify opportunities to minimize threats to your success while making the most of potential. These steps also will help you determine where to focus your time and effort.

  • Get Real About the Actual Risk: While you might not want to go so far as using a project management risk matrix, you can still assess your choice on a spectrum. If this risk doesn’t pay off, will it be a minor inconvenience, a moderate disappointment, or a major catastrophe? Putting the consequences in perspective is the essential first step.
  • Be Honest About Potential Harm: Next, consider who is likely to suffer harm in the case that the risk doesn’t pay off. You might begin by disregarding your own harm, but we encourage you to consider that carefully. Even if no one else will be implicated, causing yourself personal or professional ruin is still a mighty set of circumstances.

If your peers, family, friends, or colleagues are also drawn into the risk zone, be fully honest with yourself about how they will be harmed. This could be as minor as their shared sense of hurt at your setback, or as major as the loss of their investments or livelihoods.

  • Brainstorm Precautions and Responses: Once you have gotten a little doom-and-gloom about the consequences of the risk going bad, take a step back and look at everything that would have to happen to get you there. What can you do now, or in the future, to stop those harms from taking place? If one or more bad consequences were to manifest, how could you work around it to still succeed in the risk?
  • Document Your Analysis: Once you’ve plotted out the full spectrum of consequences, actions, and outcomes that could manifest from the risk, it’s a great idea to write it down. In cases like a business, this could be legally required. There are many free risk assessment templates you can use to document personal and professional risk analyses.
  • Revisit the Risk: Now, take a step back and consider the risk again. How do you feel about the decision now that you have thought all this through? You might find that you’ve talked yourself out of the decision, or that you want to approach it with a new strategy. This is the purpose of calculating a risk—so, great job!

Quantitative Risk Analysis Checklist

Quantitative risk analysis is a well-defined procedure in industries like manufacturing, chemistry, and engineering. In these fields, data is collected surrounding projects, making it easier to use that data in protecting against future pitfalls. But even when calculating a risk of a personal nature, bringing data and analytics into the process can help clarify the decision and clear a path through any heavy emotions. In fact, once you’ve completed the qualitative assessment above, moving right on to these objective elements will help truly define your approach to the future.

  • Ponder the Timeline: One piece of data you can estimate and plan for in early stages of a risk is the timeline. For a risk like a move or career change, when would you like to see your decision pay off? You can work backward from there to determine how quickly you’ll need to plan and take action. Other risks like starting a business might require setting an outside boundary around how long you try before taking a step back.
  • Consider and Tally Any Costs: Along with the timeline, take steps to research and document costs associated with your decision. Will you need to take continuing education courses, pay moving costs, or invest in something else? This step could send you back to brainstorming alternatives and workarounds if the cost alone is prohibitive.
  • Assess Other Due Diligence: Outside time and money, there is other research you can do to measure if the risk will be a worthy one. Explore your network to see if there is anyone you can call on for anecdotes and insights about a similar risk they took in the past. Look for research and data about your new target industry or city of residence. Even a simple search engine could lead you to stories of how risks like yours paid off in the past, and what those individuals did to make their goals a reality.
  • Track Your Own Behavior: There’s also the element of your own behavior that can be measured before taking a risk. In some cases, the success and payoff of a risk will be directly linked to our own habits and work ethic. If you aren’t sure whether you are equipped to carry the risk across the finish line, try smaller steps and see if you are able to sustain them. For instance, if you want to learn a new career, try taking a free online class before enrolling in school. If you want to start a business, see about starting a side hustle instead. If the minor changes in your day-to-day habits don’t stick, you might have an answer about whether the more serious risk will be worth it.
  • Revisit the Risk: Once you’ve done this fact-finding and gathered the numbers, you will have more objective insight into the risk you are calculating. With the timeline, costs, and data in front of you, does the risk still seem like it will be worth it?

In life, we all must take risks, and not every risk is going to pay off the way we imagine. But by measuring our expectations from the beginning, and planning carefully, we can make better choices about our risks—and do more to make sure the risks we choose are successful. We encourage you to revisit this checklist every time you feel uncertain about an opportunity and use these steps to orient your thoughts and feelings.

Tips for Writing a Resignation Letter

Quitting a job is never easy, but the most anxiety-inducing part can be the thought of facing your boss and telling them you are leaving. That is why formalizing your resignation through a letter has become a business standard. In fact, when you give just a verbal resignation, employers will often ask you to submit written notice anyway. So, writing a resignation letter is not only a smart way to approach a potentially awkward situation, but also it’s often expected by employers. Here’s a guide to writing a resignation letter that will keep you on good terms with the company and preserve the integrity of the all-important reference for your professional future.

 

What to Include in a Resignation Letter

Regardless of your reasons for leaving the job, it’s important to be graceful and professional as you convey that you are leaving. To that effect, here are some elements to include:

Address the letter: Write directly to your manager or supervisor, using their first name if that is what you usually call them.

Start with a statement of resignation: Don’t try to build up to the news or share it indirectly. Instead, a statement as simple as “I am writing to inform you that I am resigning my position,” is clear and informative.

Clarify the date of your last day: Let your employer know the last day you are available to work. Two weeks is considered a standard notice that will give your employer time to plan for a transition. However, you should prepare for the chance that the employer does not allow you to continue working until that day.

Offer to help with a transition: No matter the position, someone will need to be hired and trained to replace you. Offering to help with this through involvement in the recruitment and training process is a classy move that shows your respect for your boss and the company.

Share your gratitude: It’s also common for resignation letters to include thanks to your supervisor and the company, including specific examples and reflections on the learning opportunities and growth you have encountered during your time there.

Add contact information: At the end of the letter, make sure to include your mailing address, personal phone number, and personal email. Even if your employer already has this, this ensures you have provided the most up-to-date information so they can reach you with questions.

 

What Not to Include in a Resignation Letter

You might be really excited to be handing in this letter, whether you are leaving a bad environment or just on the way to a more engaging one. However, there are still several things that should not be included in the letter, even if you are tempted:

Complaints or critiques: You might see your exit as a chance to voice concerns about the company, its products and services, or even your supervisor and colleagues. While you might indeed be able to share these insights during an exit interview, putting them in writing can be compromising. Not only will this cause you to be negatively perceived, but also it could lead to other repercussions in your industry or with references. While your frustrations might be valid, the resignation letter is not the right place to share them.

                Overly-positive tone: On the flip side, saying too many nice things about your past employer is going to come across as ingenuine—remember, you are leaving. This also might make your resignation seem vague or casual, which could be confusing to your boss.

                Immediate departure: Unless there are personal reasons for which you are unable to give adequate notice, you should always give your employer time to plan a transition. Even if you know they have never accepted another employee’s two-weeks’ notice and will ask you to leave immediately, you should still provide that courtesy to the company.

Overt bragging: While your new position might be a vast improvement, you don’t need to go into detail about that when resigning. If you think your supervisor will push for justification, you can focus on how the change will advance your career or help you develop certain skills. However, it’s best not to mention the new job at all in the letter. If they really want to know, they can ask in person.

                New salary: Sometimes, if you mention a better salary in your resignation letter, your employer might take this as an opportunity to make a counter-offer in order to keep you as an employee. While you might ultimately just be leveraging the other job offer to get a raise in your current position, that discussion should always take place in person, initiated by you, not started by your manager as the result of a resignation.

 

If you’re struggling to start a resignation letter, there are many templates and guides available online to give you inspiration. Two last tips—remember to carefully check the document for errors, and ensure this is the correct decision for you before handing in the letter. Once you have done so, stay focused on your intention to make a graceful and professional exit to manage the situation and whatever comes next.

Career Change Checklist

Starting over in a new career field is an exciting, overwhelming prospect. Usually, the consideration of a career change begins with daydreams, research, and consideration of the pros and cons. But when the time finally comes to act on your instinct and chase your dreams, all that thinking and planning doesn’t easily translate into action.

We created this career change checklist to help you begin, as well as to keep you on track during the process of training and finding a new job. By keeping this guidance in mind, you can navigate the uncertainty and achieve your goal.

Checklist to Prepare for a Career Change

  • Unpack Your Motivations: As you consider launching a new career, it’s important to evaluate why you want to seek not only a new job, but a new industry. While the decision to change careers is usually rooted in emotion and personal desire, it’s important to make sure research and evaluation support the decision. Carrying out something as drastic as a career change due to impulse could result in less-than-ideal outcomes.
  • Evaluate Your Current Job: While you know you want to leave your current position, it is important to take stock of what you do enjoy and any elements that have kept you satisfied. Maybe the learning opportunities, mission of your employer, or lifestyle the job empowers you to maintain are the things you like about it. This evaluation could lead you to reconsider the career change, or at least help you identify any standards you want to carry over to your new position.
  • Perform Due Diligence and Research: Once you’re considering the career change, it’s time to do research and figure out the practical steps the change will require. Do you need additional education? Technical certification? Or to build your network? It’s important to keep the mindset that you aren’t starting over from scratch but rather you’re figuring out strategies to translate your existing skills into the career you desire.
  • Save for the Investment: If moving into a new industry means you’ll need to take a salary reduction, seek more education, move, or invest in elements like a brick-and-mortar space, it means you’ll need to save money. Having a financial cushion will help you stay confident and secure while you carry out the other elements of your career change.
  • Identify How to Present Yourself: You also need to be prepared for new employers, colleagues, and members of your network to want to hear the story behind this change. You can start thinking now about how to position yourself in a positive and professional manner. Think of ways to share your experience so that it connects to your new endeavor. These accounts shouldn’t cast negative reflection on you, your attitude about the past job, or your previous industry and employers.

Checklist During a Career Change

  • Build Up Skills and Capabilities: Whatever new learning or connections you need to carry out, taking the steps to grow those is a good first move toward the practical stages of your career change. Taking free online courses, starting a degree or certification program, or setting up opportunities to job shadow are great ways to start.
  • Manage Career Change Expectations: As you start applying for jobs, it’s important to keep evaluating and realigning your expectations, not just at an entry-level, but in terms of your career trajectory. As you learn more about the industry, the skills you are developing, and the opportunities available, you might decide the initial position that attracted you to the industry is just the beginning.
  • Prepare for an Interview: Part of the career change is working on a new resume, cover letter, and even your interview outfit. You can establish a basic resume and cover letter template that highlight your experience and capabilities in the new career field. Then, it’s always a good idea to edit your resume and cover letter based on the specifics of each position.
  • Use Your Network to Grow Experience: As you meet more people in your target career industry, see how they can help you grow your education and experience. Maybe they can connect you with internship opportunities, free education classes, or other professionals to help you advance your career.
  • Jump in Part-Time: You can also consider a more gradual transition to your target career through part-time work. This will allow you to build your resume, gain experience, and make sure the career change is really what you want in the end.

Every career changer will feature these steps in a new way, depending on the industry you are leaving and the industry you are entering. By checking off every item on this list, you’ll know that you are on the way to a new and more fulfilling career. Best of luck, and don’t forget to call on your Alpha Kappa Psi network for support.

Five Ways to Spot a Fake Job Posting

Fake job postings have been around for a long time, even before the Internet. But high unemployment and a trend toward digital job listings has this crime on the rise. The FBI has been collecting a high volume of fake job posting reports since 2019, including reports of an average loss of $3,000 per victim. Cyber criminals use fake websites or emails to steal personal information and compromise a person’s identity. Here are five ways to spot a fake job posting and avoid getting scammed.

  1. Punctuation, Grammar, and Other Errors

When a job posting or email from a recruiter is full of punctuation and grammatical errors, strange capitalizations, misspellings, or other inconsistencies, it should be an early red flag. While not everyone is a grammar expert, the posting should come across as professional and polished.

Some errors stand out more than others as red flags. Any misspellings of the company name, key software required for the job, the job title itself, or common sites like Google and Yahoo should encourage you to not apply. The same applies to capitalization errors, like not capitalizing proper nouns or names.

  1. Informal Job Description, Requirements, or Hiring Process

It’s not just the grammar and spelling that show you if a job is real. Sometimes the description and requirements of the job will be a clue. If the “requirements” are basic elements that most adult applicants would achieve, like being over 18, being a US citizen, and having internet access, the job is potentially a scam. These requirements don’t actually tell the hiring manager anything about your qualifications or work experience, a clear sign they are more concerned with getting your personal information than giving you a job.

The same applies to the description of the job. If the duties sound amazingly easy and light, especially in comparison with the salary, this is a sign the job is too good to be true, meaning it probably isn’t!

The FBI indicates that the method of the interview can also let you know if it’s a scam. If the interview isn’t conducted in-person or through secure teleconferencing like Zoom or Google, this is a red flag. The most common fraudulent interview platforms require that you use an email address versus a phone number.

  1. Requests for Confidential Information

Other confidential information that can be requested as part of a fraudulent job posting includes your bank account information, credit card number, or Social Security Number. While it’s true that real jobs will collect this information from you to complete a background check or set up direct deposit, this should never be part of the preliminary application process. Some Federal or State jobs might be an exception, but in those cases, you will apply for the jobs through a secure government portal. Never send any of this information through an email or instant messenger service.

  1. Fee Requirements for Applications or Training

Another sign a job is a scam is when you have to pay the company for equipment or accreditation to be considered or to begin. This could apply to everything from a license to customer service equipment, like phones or headsets. You might in fact need these things to start the job, but especially in the case of proprietary equipment, the company should provide those tools. In cases like a securities license or teaching license, this proof of education might be required, but do some research to ensure you aren’t being charged by the hiring company for something free—and that you will retain any license if the job doesn’t work out.

  1. Strange Online Presence

It’s also a sign of a scam if the company’s online presence appears abnormal. First, you should find their website. If they don’t have one at all, that is a major red flag. Next, confirm the identical job posting is listed on their website. Many scammers will pretend to work for major companies and post jobs that lead to spam sites. Confirming the company actually posted the position is one way to avoid this trick. Lastly, make sure the email addresses and personal email signatures align with the information on the website as far as job title, spelling of the company name, and more.

Ultimately, spotting a fake job posting is about paying attention to the details. If anything arouses your suspicion, pay attention to your instincts. While you could have found a real job posting, consider the fact that the team hasn’t paid attention to details and it might not be a great work environment—and that’s your best-case scenario. The worst-case scenario is being the victim of a crime that could lose you money, damage your credit, and compromise your identity. Carrying out these small steps of due diligence might mean you skip over a few job postings, but also it could save you a lot of trouble in the long run.