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Field Notes

How Bre Anna Clinkscales aligns her values and sets purpose-driven goals

Bre Anna Clinkscales
October 17, 2023

Bre Anna Clinkscales, a recent graduate of Duke University, joined Root Cause in 2022 as a Strategic Projects Associate. She previously worked as a summer intern at Root Cause in 2021 through DukeEngage Boston, an education- and-equity-focused social impact summer experience. After graduating, she decided to continue her journey of advancing systems change by joining the Root Cause team.

Bre helped Root Cause intentionally and thoughtfully implement our Strategic Plan and keeps us aligned and on track with the goals we’ve set as an organization. Bre now works on multiple consulting projects, including collective action work with Mass Mutual Foundation/NECC, strategic planning with Emerald Cities Collaborative, performance measurement with HOPE, and collective action convening with the van Beuren Charitable Foundation

Why did you choose to work in social impact?

I am determined to be a part of shifting our systems and power structures towards justice. The world I want to live in does not exist yet, and working in social impact provides me with a space to spark personal and system-wide changes that will positively impact the next generation. This passion for addressing systemic issues and barriers has been with me, and I was able to refine and re-imagine my role in this work during college. 

During my junior year, I participated in a program where I initially connected with Root Cause called DukeEngage, which allows students and faculty to collaborate with communities to address social issues. During my internship, I worked on projects such as Every Baby Guilford and Zero to Three, where I learned that there are several ways to address the systemic challenges in our world. After graduating college, I decided to start my journey of advancing systems change at Root Cause as a Strategic Projects Associate. 

Why is it important (to me) to set intentional goals?

As I begin my journey as a young professional, it has become increasingly more important for me to have a vision and goals for the future. Without a vision or goals, it is easy to become stagnant and lose direction and purpose. Therefore, it is important to me to set intentional goals to ensure I am continuing to grow in all areas of my life. 

What does goal/intention setting look like for you? What are some practical steps people can take to begin setting intentional goals?

For me, intentional goals are different from the New Year’s Resolutions that we often set and forget about at the beginning of the year. Intentional goals can be created at any moment in time and they are S.M.A.R.T goals. S.M.A.R.T goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. (Check out this video to learn more about SMART goals).  

Here are my five strategies for setting intentional goals. 

  1. Block time in your calendar – I intentionally schedule a time and date into my calendar (about 30-60 min) for an Intentions Workshop where I set goals (for the year, quarter, etc). Then, I share the day and time I plan to set goals with a family member or friend so they can keep me accountable.
  2. Find one word that can be connected to all of your goals – I start my Intentions Workshop by thinking of a word that I want my goals to revolve around. Your word can relate to something you want to accomplish, learn more about, or grow in. For example, my word for 2023 is Flourish: I want to flourish in all areas of my life. Other examples of words that your goals can revolve around are perseverance, growth, kindness, health, longevity, etc.
  3. Reflect on your areas of strength and improvement – After I have selected my word, I take a moment to reflect on the past (3-12) months and I write down three areas of strength and three areas of improvement. When setting goals, it is important to celebrate what you have accomplished and focus on the areas that you want to strengthen.
  4. Break your goals into categories – Then, with my areas of strength and improvement in mind, I begin to intentionally set goals for different areas in my life by breaking my goals into categories. Before I begin to write the goals, I determine the categories that I want to improve in. A few of the categories that I typically use are professional, social, emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual, and financial. Then, I write down 1-3 goals per category. When setting goals, the intention is to not to set a large number of goals, but instead to find a few goals per category to target and fully commit to.
  5. Share your goals with a trusted individual – Once I have identified my categories and set my goals, I share my goals with a trusted friend or family member who can serve as an accountability partner and check in with me about my goals at a regular interval (monthly or quarterly). I also take a picture of my goals with my phone so I can have access to them at all times.

How does your practice of setting intentional goals show up in your work at Root Cause?

Similar to others in Generation Z, I have high expectations that my work is values driven and aligned with my personal morals. At Root Cause, I have the opportunity to set professional goals that align with my values and push me to grow professionally. Root Cause’s dedication to being intentional about setting goals can be seen in our Root Cause 2022 Strategic Plan


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