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Get Back on Track to Meeting Your Goals With These Three Steps

New Year’s is already a distant memory and there’s plenty of uncertainty about what 2017 will bring. But one thing is for sure. We’re already well past making resolutions. Some of us never started, and others gave up too quickly.

We convince ourselves we don’t have enough time, money, or other resources to follow through on our resolutions—whether our intentions are to get healthier, become more organized, save money, reconnect with loved ones, or try a new hobby. But there’s good news. If we reject this “never enough” thinking, research shows, we can get on a path to fulfillment and really make 2017 a year of personal change.

As for how to get back on track, first, be deliberate about your ultimate goal. People have a tendency to pursue things they can count: the number of steps taken daily, the hours spent with a child, or the figures in a budget. Tracking numerical progress is straightforward, but it also obscures our ultimate objectives: becoming healthier, strengthening a relationship, or completing a project.

University of Chicago professor Christopher Hsee and his colleagues discovered that people irrationally overwork to pursue goals they don’t actually want...

How to Cope with Failure and Rejection

Any creative person knows that pursuing meaningful work also means climbing aboard an emotional rollercoaster. One moment, you’re on top of the world, stepping out onto a stage, or hitting “publish” on a post. Then a disappointing email or a critical comment about your work sends you plunging into despair.

As a perfectionist with an honor-student complex trying to navigate the real world, I know these feelings very well. Those of us who pride ourselves on being goal-oriented can get so emotionally wrapped up in success that the results of our efforts start to dictate our happiness. We begin to over-identify with achievement.

It’s easy to stay motivated when things are going well in your career. But when you’ve invested your whole self in writing, the arts, or even starting your own business, falling short of expectations can be a major blow.

Unfortunately, we can’t always control the outcomes of our efforts. But we can better prepare ourselves for the possibility of failure. We can build resilience so that we keep striving even in the face of setbacks—the key is making your own emotional contingency plan.

When work gets personal

The movie Don’t Think...

When Government Employees Pose a Threat to Security and Safety

Who can you trust? The tragic Navy Yard shootings in 2013 crystallized a long-simmering problem for federal leaders—how to proactively manage potential threats from the government’s own employees and contractors.

It’s a challenge officials have been grappling with for more than a decade. Legislation adopted in 2004 included requirements to standardize the background security clearance process across agencies. But in the years that followed, the consolidation efforts took time, culminating in a 2008 presidential directive by President George W. Bush to improve the process. A number of incidents since then only increased the visibility and urgency to act: Chelsea Manning’s dump of sensitive information to WikiLeaks in 2011; Edward Snowden’s disclosure of highly classified information in May 2013; and the Navy Yard shooting in September 2013.

In response to the WikiLeaks incident, President Obama issued an executive order requiring agencies to create an Insider Threat Program. But the 2013 Navy Yard shooting spurred significantly more action. Obama directed a 120-day review of the “suitability and security” processes used to hire and oversee employees and contractors for the federal government to ensure personal safety at federal physical facilities as well as protect our nation’s most...

You Can’t Manage What You Can’t Message

This phrase is, of course, a play on the old line attributed to Peter Drucker, to W. Edwards Deming, to Robert Kaplan and David Norton, and to your favorite management guru. You know the original phrase: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

Unfortunately, the similar seven-word phrase that ends with the verb “message” has received far less attention. Still, this second phrase is at least as relevant as the original. It too emphasizes the importance of an obvious and essential leadership behavior that is too often overlooked.

Indeed, I think this second point is actually Leadership Behavior No. 1: “Clarifying and reiterating the [organization’s] purpose can keep everyone focused on what is to be accomplished.”

A public manager who seeks to mobilize people to accomplish a public purpose, needs a clear strategy plus words that explain:

  1. The purpose we are all trying to accomplish,
  2. How we are trying to accomplish this purpose, and
  3. The difference this accomplishment will make to citizens.

To convince employees, collaborators, and citizens to devote serious effort and resources to achieving this purpose by implementing this strategy, a public manager needs a clear message that explains the purpose, the strategy, and the...

OPM’s Telework Policy for Parents Is An Exercise in Distrust

I’ve been working from home exclusively for the past 6 years. I say it all the time, not really in jest, that I could never work in an office again. I just can’t wear real pants anymore.

Like most work-from-home parents, I still have traditional office hours and great childcare. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when worlds collide and my children barge into my office during a video call.

As someone who worked for the Department of the Army and successfully negotiated a one-day-a-week approved telework situation, recently released OPM guidance on telework and dependent care is ushering in a flashback. Picture a group of women sitting in a conference room, being lectured by HR about why we could not have our children at home with us while we worked (I didn’t even have kids at this point, but given the fact that I have a uterus, it was clearly a risk).

This was Washington, D.C., mind you. And anyone who was working at the Pentagon who had kids was already shelling out at least $1,000 a month for the privilege of quality childcare (multiply that for multiple children). My guess...

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