As PR practitioners, we’ve all probably got ambitions or thoughts about the direction we wish to travel in our futures. However, we might not have set specific goals. The Star of Bethlehem was the goal that inspired the three wise men (magi) seeking the new born Jesus in the traditional nativity story and this inspires my final 12 Days of Christmas post.
In my PhD studies, I am researching career strategies in public relations. Definitions of careers generally include a temporal aspect (i.e. developments over time) and/or progression (often viewed as moving through a hierarchy of increased benefits and responsibilities).
This allows us to think about a period – say the next year or longer, and any progress we wish to make in that time. We can stipulate specific goals and objectives as personal equivalents of the star that we will set out to pursue.
Incoming CIPR president, Stephen Waddington set out a set of 10 pledges for his tenure in 2014. This public statement serves several purposes which are useful guidance in following our own stars:
- Putting our goals in writing enables us to think clearly about them and makes them more explicit
- Sharing our goals with others increases our motivation to succeed, and allows others to help us on the way
- Specifying our goals precisely provides a target or measure against which we can assess our progress and achievement of the destination
Many of us may set our goals out as New Year resolutions – and that can be helpful (although it can be easy to forget or abandon these). Others perhaps have a life path with ideas of what they would like to achieve by the time they reach certain age milestones. Or maybe we have dreams that we are not sure we can realise, but hope we could, with a bit of luck.
Our stars should be a stretch to achieve, so that we can benefit from the experience and development in reaching out and up. But they should not be impossible or achievable only at the expense of something or someone that we value.
A star can also illuminate our path – continuing to shine ahead and act as a navigational reminder when the going gets tough along the way.
Scientifically, stars can be of different sizes, grouped into constellations and are a source of energy. Each of these can be applied to our own goals. We can set ourselves small and large goals and link these as steps or complimentary achievements. Knowing what we are aiming for in life can be seen as energising too.
Incidentally some biblical scholars apparently argue that the three wise men arrived several months after the birth – whilst others believe the story is a fiction by the author of the Gospel of Matthew. This reminds us both of how goals do not necessarily have to be achieved at a specific time (especially if we are setting out our career aims before reaching a crucial age, for example) – and also how it is often the narrative around the goal that is important in influencing behaviour.
Being open to the emergence of new stars is as important as setting a set goal for ourselves. So as we head into Christmas – and I end my 12 Days series (there will be one reflective post to follow), my advice is to look for your star or stars and and take the next step on your journey to reach your chosen destination.
Happy Christmas – may all your dreams come true.