Goal setting and mentorship: My path to success

Goal setting and mentorship: My path to success– BY Valencia Tsinyane

Embarking on a successful career path involves more than just following a predefined trajectory. It requires vision, goal setting, discipline, and mentorship. We can learn from each other, so let me start by sharing my personal career development story.

My journey began in 2012 when I studied for a Diploma in Civil Engineering at CUT in Bloemfontein. In 2014, I joined Aurecon (now Zutari). I moved to the Kimberly office in 2015, partly driven by personal reasons. I pursued my Btech in Civil Engineering – Urban Engineering at CUT in 2016.

I returned to Bloemfontein in 2017, and I got married in 2018. We relocated to my husband’s hometown, Kuruman, where Zutari seconded me to Khumani Mine.

I completed my Postgraduate Diploma in Project Management in 2020 and obtained my PMP in 2021. Finally, in April 2023, I successfully presented my report to the Engineering Council of SA.

I share all these personal milestones here because it shows the power of setting goals, facing challenges, and embracing mentorship.

My vision board process

In achieving my goals, I want to highlight the role of a vision board. This is a tool that played a crucial part in manifesting these milestones. Each day it served as a tangible reminder of my aspirations and nurtured my determination to make them a reality.

At the end of each year, along with all the year-end celebrations, I engage in a reflective exercise— I spend the weeks leading up to the end of the year thinking about what I want to achieve in the next year. And then, in the last week of the year, I create a picture collage representing these goals. I use precise images for my vision board that portray exactly what I aim to achieve. For example, my goal to submit my report to ECSA was a literal picture of ECSA.

This collage becomes the wallpaper on my phone. No – you will never see a selfie or a pic of my husband and me – it is always the vision board.  I do this deliberately because it keeps my goals at the forefront of my daily life – a constant reminder and source of motivation.

Often, people see my wallpaper and ask about it. Explaining my goals aloud inspires them and reinvigorates my energy to achieve them. I make sure that I am doing something each day to reach those goals.

The three threats to goal-setting

It’s not easy even if we are clear on our goals and have a vision board. The journey towards achieving our goals is a challenging one. I classify the three primary threats as distraction, discipline, and disappointment. Recognising and mitigating these threats is vital for maintaining focus and resilience.

Distractions can divert us from our path. You may have a goal, but then something else comes up. You jump to the new thing, and before you know it, weeks, months, and maybe even years have flown by, and you’ve drifted far away from your goals.

Discipline is essential for consistent progress. No one else can achieve your goals for you. Discipline is what sets you apart from everyone else.

Disappointment arises when goals take longer to materialise than we initially wanted. And sometimes, the time frame is out of our control. If it doesn’t happen this year – due to reasons beyond your control, it can happen next year. My ECSA report goal was on my phone wallpaper for two years before I achieved it.

Often, however, it is when we allow distraction and lack of discipline to play a role in our efforts to achieve our goals that we experience disappointment.

The importance of mentorship

In addition to goal setting, mentorship has been a deliberate and integral aspect throughout my professional journey.

I was introduced to it during my first year at CUT, where second-year students mentored us for the first years. I became a mentor in my second year. I have felt its impact on my personal and professional growth – where my mentors or sponsors have spoken on my behalf, giving me opportunities to expand and grow my experience. Notably, my referee for the ECSA report was my mentor, showing the powerful influence of mentorship.

I have benefited from being both a mentee and a mentor, and I advocate for the transformative power of mentorship in navigating the complexities of our careers and personal lives.

Embracing uncomfortable progress

Embracing discomfort is an inevitable part of progress. We must face challenges, uncertainties, and anxiety-inducing situations, such as interviews. Anyone who was around me in the week of my ECSA interview can attest to how stressed I was. But discomfort is just a part of our personal and professional growth.

As women in the industry, it’s essential that we remain marketable, seek qualifications, and actively engage in mentorship for our holistic development, and I encourage everyone reading this to consider incorporating these elements in their journey.

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