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Realizing Our Professional Goals

When I hear from people new (and not so new) to the ADR field – asking for input on realizing their professional goals – I often hear about a range of variables that get in the way. Fear is one of those variables. This might be fear of failure, fear of making decisions that will be regretted, fear of wasting time and money, and even fear of success. Other factors that preclude taking action have to do with lack of confidence, emotional support and motivation. And self-limiting beliefs, difficulties envisioning the goal and other such impasses also stand in the way.

Though there are no easy answers about ways to make our dreams a reality, sometimes this journey is best experienced by reflecting on questions that guide thinking through the bumps along the way. These are the sort of questions that delve into some specific areas that are important to consider and that ultimately, help clear the pathway. Before making an actual plan and action steps, here are four suggested areas followed by the sorts of questions that guided my own thinking. I hope you might find them helpful, too. And I welcome a fuller conversation on other areas and questions that help build your professional foundation in our field.

  1. Identify What is Important to You

To determine which of your values drive and motivate you, please consider the following questions:

  • Why did you choose to be in the ADR field of practice or study in the first place?
  • What part or parts do you enjoy most, find most interesting and feel most passionate about?
  • What, more specifically, is it about that part or those parts that excite you?
  • Which values are reflected in your answers to the above questions?
  • What other values do you want to honor to accomplish the work you aim to do?
  1. Name the Vision

To consider in more detail – and articulate – what you envision as a professional goal, here are some other related questions:

  • What is the vision you have for yourself? You might find it helpful to consider these factors in your answer: what the wording is that you will use to tell others what you do; what you will be achieving when you reach your goal; who your clients are; where you are working; and how you are feeling about yourself.
  • What makes this vision special and unique for you?
  • If you are not able to articulate your vision, what are the sorts of goals you contemplated for yourself when you entered the field – that are not yet being realized?
  • What impact do you want to have on your clients? On the ADR field?
  • What will you celebrate about you when you achieve your goal?
  1. Articulate Your Challenges to Moving Forward

Honestly confronting the factors that might be precluding your way forward is a necessary part of goal attainment. The following questions invite you to identify what your impasses are:

  • What do you see as the biggest challenges to achieving your goal?
  • What are your self-limiting beliefs and fears that seem to preclude you from moving forward?
  • What strengths do you have that you aren’t fully using?
  • How might you bring your strengths into the process of achieving and living your goal?
  • What else do you need?
  • What is stopping you from meeting what you just identified as your need(s)?
  1. Check Out Your Energy

Having an authentic way of showing up is critical to achieving goals. This factor is not always considered in goal setting exercises  and yet, it is a very important element. This series of questions asks you to take a close look at this factor:

  • How might you describe the impact your professional presence currently has on others (clients and colleagues)?
  • What are your strongest characteristics?
  • What specifically do you want or need help with to improve how you and your energy are perceived?
  • In what ways are you most out of alignment, i.e. not coming across in ways you want to, at this time?
  • If you don’t know answers to any of the above questions, how might you find out. For instance, who is someone or several people you care about and who cares about you, who would be willing to share their perspective?

I found that once I answered the questions to the above areas, the way forward became a more practical and methodical exercise. It involved documenting and acting on realistic steps that built incrementally on one another. It is a process that includes setting timelines for each and developing both inner and outer resources that are necessary to accomplish them. Having a ‘buddy’ or coach for support and to help reality check along the way is very helpful here – as is sharing the journey as you walk yourself through the previous suggested steps.


It is trite to say, but true, that remaining focused on our career destinations – where we want to go and who we want to be when we arrive – requires commitment to the journey. Admittedly, that’s not straightforward or easy to do. Among other things, when taking on this quest, there is wisdom in stepping back and reflecting on questions like those in this article to build a foundation to stand on. Being true to yourself and your vision as you move along the continuum of where you are and where you want to be is, not surprisingly, the guiding principle.


Cinnie Noble

Cinnie Noble is a certified coach (PCC) and mediator and a former lawyer specializing in conflict management coaching. She is the author of two coaching books: Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY™ Model and Conflict Mastery: Questions to Guide You. MORE >

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