The Year of Goals

With 2012 in the rear view mirror and 2013 in full swing, it seems an appropriate time to discuss goals. I’ve never been one for ‘new year’s resolutions’, in part because they are so often associated with dieting or exercise habits and in part because I feel that I already have more than enough ‘life goals’ to fulfill. However, given how busy I am between a full time job, being a partner in two small businesses, working towards my professional licensure, maintaining a blog (however poorly), having a variety of time-consuming hobbies and of course being as good a wife/sister/daughter I can be, I often wake up to realize that my goals have passed by year after year unfulfilled. I find that reviewing and renewing goals at regular intervals can help us re-focus, re-energize and remember our dreams.

For 2013, I’m digging in immediately and setting some pretty lofty goals for myself. Whether I complete them all according to my deadlines is to be determined, but even if I fall a little short, I’ll at least be closer to them than I am at this moment. Two vital aspects of goal setting is sharing them with others and setting deadlines; both of these actions establish accountability. For me, a long term goal usually remains that way because smaller, short term goals seem to pop up and take precedence over my long term ones. Anything that is a year away tends to keep getting pushed back or shrugged off because “I have a year to take care of it”. Near the end of 2012 I decided to complete all of my Architect Registration Exams by the end of 2013. While I had hoped to finish 3 exams in 2012, I only completed one. I’m happy that I finally got started, but I was a little frustrated that I didn’t meet my goal to complete all three. Looking back, the reasons included being too busy with side projects, getting distracted with ‘life’ events and a dash of indifference; the old “I still have X amount of time” came up more than once.

ARE Construction Documents Book

ARE Construction Documents Book

This year, I decided that instead of setting the goal to ‘finish my exams by the end of 2013’, I would finish my exams by the end of June. That’s right, I plan to take six exams in six months. While this schedule is a little tight, it is totally feasible. There are several reasons for undertaking this goal, but the main ones include:

  • My husband is studying for his final CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)exam which takes place in June. We could both be done with professional exams at the same time and – GASP – go live life together, exam free!
  • NCARB is switching testing administration companies, which will cause a 2 month (or more) ‘blackout’. No test taking, no test scheduling. It implies there could be a bottle neck of test taking and registration once the blackout is over. I’d rather avoid it.
  • My IDP (Intern Development Program) should be wrapping up around the summer, meaning my tests and logging of 5600 work hours in specific categories will be complete at the same time
  • I want to grow the residential design portion of Architangent and be able to provide more services for designing and remodeling homes. Studying for exams is taking up time that could be spent working with clients and making money. (Not to mention the raise/promotion that comes with becoming a registered architect). I feel that dividing my time between side projects and studying is hurting both, so the faster I can get my tests done, the better it will be all around. (I plan to limit new projects I take on, but not eliminate them completely)

Well, there you have it! I’ve shared my goal to complete my exams by the end of June, and I hope you’ll stick around for the ride. You’ll have to excuse me if I don’t have a ton of time to write posts (I know, they haven’t been as regular these past few months – remember those side projects?), but I’ll try to keep up by summarizing my study plans and pass/fails – hopefully encouraging others on this road to keep at it by sharing my experiences. What goals have you set this year? Have you shared them with anyone? Feel free to leave a comment about your goals.

Check out this video on productivity and goal setting: (Hint, the most important part is starting, so go get started on your goals!)


Happy 2013!


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  • I just read your education and work history…..along with your completion of idp… are so close to licensure… I am for 2013……then why the disparing discourse on licensed vs unlicensed? Ant the term or word architect?
    I have worked so hard for this…..why would I want an unlicensed person to tell the public that they are an architect?

    • Michael, ultimately you have to ask yourself why you are getting a license. I would wager by your comments that it is not just to advance your career or do a better job, but to have the title ‘architect’. The title conveys a sense of importance, perhaps it gives a boost to the ego, and it generally makes you feel good about your life choices. As I have explained in other comments, the title of architect does not actually protect the public from harm – only the license itself can do so. Therefore, the only reason to withhold the title of architect from those who have not earned their license is because we don’t like the thought of someone else ‘getting off easy’. To put it another way, you say that you have ‘worked so hard for this’. Would it be highly offensive to you if suddenly every architecture school graduate was able to call themselves architects? Most people would say ‘yes’, that someone who did not sit for the licensing exams should not be able to call themselves an architect. But you have to ask why – why is it so offensive that someone is able to refer to themselves as their professional career choice; to accurately describe their role and their job? The reason so many people get upset at this idea is because of what you just said – you worked hard, and they didn’t (at least from your perspective). So really all this comes down to is an ego issue: it is the idea that “If I had to suffer, everyone else should too”. If you had to go through 7 exams, then everyone else who wants to say they’re an architect better take those same tests, too! In reality, its a form of hazing. Just because the system is flawed doesn’t mean we should encourage and promote it. The restriction of the title goes beyond the facade of ‘protecting the public’ and serves to jeopardize the profession as a whole due to the ego-driven actions of those within. Is it any wonder why the profession is falling apart from within? The entire culture that has been created is what is driving the destruction – a culture in which those who have been educated in the field are not allowed to reference their job roles for fear of being reported to authorities and fined; a culture in which there is an undertone of hazing, bullying and demeaning comments made to those who have not ‘suffered appropriately for their title’; a culture in which those without a title are not respected or regarded as highly as those with one, and in which our worth and upward motion is capped by a governing body which is so lacking in transparency that it is almost laughable. Take a moment to think about how architects without a license are regarded and treated. I’ve been fortunate to work for some great companies who value me as a person, but not everyone is so lucky. At the end of the day, you have to ask the right question. The question is not ‘why would I want an unlicensed person to tell the public they are an architect’, but ‘why not’? What is it that really holds you or anyone else back from calling us architects? Every day I get up, go to work and practice architecture as defined by our language and profession. Why can’t I say that I’m an architect? In the end, it’s because someone else will be offended because they feel they worked harder than me to get the title. It’s a pretty poor reason to withhold a title, don’t you think?

  • Anson M. Stuart

    Hey Brinn,
    I’ve read both your and Michael’s comments. I personally don’t have an issue with the use of the term ‘architect’ by those of us (including myself) in the profession who have not completed the licensure process.
    I too have worked extremely hard, and continue to do so, to obtain my license. I started under ARE 3.1 and was transitioned into 4.0. I’ve passed a total of 8 exams (6 under 3.1 and 2 under 4.0). The two under 4.0 were two that I had previously passed. But I had to re-take them because of the re-distribution of content under 4.0.
    I now have to pass four exams before the end of October 2013 or I will have to re-take another exam that I passed under 3.1. I’ve scheduled all four of my remaining exams. I’m taking two next week and two in mid October. And hopefully I’m successful in passing all of them. Because I shudder at the thought of having to re-take yet another exam that I have already passed. But at the end of the day, I take full responsibility for where I am in this entire process and know that when I eventually get through it, I will be that much better for it.
    I think Michael’s sentiments reflect a history and culture of our profession which I hope will change someday. And that culture is one of exclusionism that has been the norm for far too long. I personally applaud you for your efforts in trying to serve as a valuable resource for those going through this very difficult process.
    And beyond that, I applaud you for conquering the beast known as the ARE! And for accomplishing your goal.
    I can recall when I was contemplating which professional degree to pursue, (I have my Masters) asking a professor for his advice. His response to me was, ‘I gat mine! Get yours!’ That has stuck with me to this day. And that is exactly the type of attitude that must change if our great profession is to evolve and reach its true potential.
    I will get off my soap box now. Because I have quite a bit of studying to do.
    Again, congrats and continue to be a resource and advocate for what I think will be a better profession.