5 TED Talks to help you realise your goals


January isn’t the most exciting month, but it does bring a sense of rejuvenation and potential. A time to both take stock and plan ahead, and think about what we hope to achieve in the upcoming year.

Come June, however, how many of us are referring back to our new-year goals and making sure we’re on track? Chances are by November, we’ve forgotten what it was we were even hoping for way back in January.

But firm goals and a clear plan of action are prerequisites to success and these 5 TED talks – by industry leaders and experts in their field –  will help you with yours.

Going further, they’ll encourage you to think differently about what may have held you back in the past, such as negative patterns of thinking or misguided career advice.

Read (and watch) on, and be inspired.


John Doerr: Why the secret to success is setting the right goals

Straight-forward advice on how to use a system of objectives (‘action-oriented, a vaccine to fuzzy-thinking’) and key results (‘measurable, verifiable… aggressive but realistic’) to set meaningful goals and achieve greater success.

Invented in the seventies, the system has stood the test of time, argues venture capitalist John Doerr, and has since worked for everyone from Google to U2 frontman, Bono.


Carla Harris: How to find the person who can help you get ahead at work

While the importance of having a mentor is widely acknowledged, to really get ahead at work – says Wall Street veteran, Carla Harris ­– you need a sponsor.

Based on her experiences at decision-making tables, Harris argues that companies will often claim to be based on meritocracy, but this will always rest on a certain level of subjectivity: a few people in the higher echelons decide on the fate of those in more junior positions. So you need to make sure you have one of them on your side.


Stacey Abrams: 3 questions to ask yourself about everything you do

Sometimes all we need on a dreary winter’s morning is some straight-up inspiration, and there’s plenty of that here – hence the frequent gaps for applause.

Stacey Abrams – the first black woman in the US to be nominated by a major party for governor – tells us to be ‘aggressive about our ambitions’, dig deep into why you really want what you want, plus how to stop obstacles from barring your way – even if at first they seem insurmountable.


Susan Colantuono: The career advice you probably didn’t get

This talk isn’t as snappy as the others, but what it lacks in dynamism it more than makes up for in specific, intelligent advice for women in business looking to advance their careers.

Women, argues the speaker, become mired in middle management because they’ve often never been made aware that ‘the door-opener for career advancement is your business, strategic and financial acumen.’


Alison Ledgerwood: A simple trick to improve positive thinking

At first glance, this may seem a little obvious or over-done: we all know it’s better to see the glass half-full, and so on.

But after watching, see if it doesn’t stick with you a while. And you start recognising just how quickly you forget about the things that go well, in comparison to how much you brood upon a set-back.

Sometimes the simple tricks are the most impactful – and that does seem the case here. Recognise the positives, focus on those positives and be more positive. Perfect for January.