Setting Goals…..Gulp!


I was proud and honored to be selected as a participant in the YNPN Chicago Leadership Institute for the 2015 cohort. As you may know, the Institute focuses on developing the future leaders of the Chicago nonprofit and public service sectors by providing training, networking, coaching, mentoring, and roundtable discussions with executive directors.

Through the Institute, I have connected with an ambitious and talented group of my peers, industry leaders, and a seasoned mentor to help me develop problem solving and leadership strategies. Together, we’re growing and adapting to the ever-changing landscape of nonprofit funding, management, and programming.

One of our first tasks was to set goals for ourselves during the Institute. Sometimes the most simple requests can be the most vexing.

“My goal is to figure out my goal” is the kind of dizzying loop I catch myself in.

“My goal is to define and improve my leadership style” is another unsatisfying attempt.

Finally, “my goal is to improve program assessment” is an example of focusing on a very specific organizational issue and missing the mark on developing my own leadership skills.

Alas, setting reasonable, attainable, and yet lofty goals is HARD!

My cohort and our leaders have been helpful, reminding me that it’s okay to start large and general, as long as I have more concrete sub-goals. I’ve worked through many activities, including the Myers Briggs personality test to understand my personality and leadership style in relation to others, and exploring tools that have been recommended to me, such as Strengthsfinder to identify some of my strong suits.

I’ve got one goal to start and am subjecting this goal here to the ultimate tool of accountability, public scrutiny:

My goal is to continue to develop my leadership through a professional development plan for myself. This includes:

  • weekly journal entries reflecting moments that reflect my leadership style
  • instituting a schedule of professional reviews for myself by my board and my staff
  • applying for one multi-session leadership program or grant per year
  • reading one book on leadership per year
  • meeting monthly with colleagues from similar organizations


About the Author

Karen Reyes, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of ArtReach at Lillstreet. Most recently a teaching artist at BBF’s Knitlab program. Karen also served for eight years as the Managing Editor of the international academic journal Latino Studies and has held teaching positions at St. Augustine College, University of Illinois at Chicago, St. Leonard’s Adult High School, and Literacy Works. Read her full bio, here.