Friday, September 12, 2008


I've thinking lately about setting goals--how to do so effectively, what they can mean, and how to go about achieving them. Goals are the key to making your dreams come true. In fact, it's been rightly said that a goal is just a dream with a deadline. It’s never too late to make goals in any aspect of your life. I'll kick off this discussion withsome reasons why you should make goals, how to make them and track your success, and the importance of making SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely).

In his phenomenal best-seller, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey outlines a powerful principle: Start with the end in mind (Habit 2). Starting with the end goal in mind focuses your efforts. Realizing a goal is a two-part process: You must create it mentally, and then create it in reality. If you don’t have the blueprint, your efforts will founder and take you on many detours. You can’t go to the bus station and ask for a ticket to “anywhere.” You have to know where you’re going!

 When setting goals for your life and business, be sure to set a variety of short- and long-term goals. In terms of your career, you can set goals that apply for the next day, the next week, the next month, the next quarter, and even the year and beyond. A variety of timelines will help you track toward success. For instance, you might have a goals list that looks like the following:

  • Tomorrow: Finish TPS report, follow-up with boss, schedule annual review.
  • This month: Finish documentation, set up development team, take leadership training, complete annual review.
  • This quarter: Propose new product/service to management, register for continuing education, finish 2 more projects.
  • This year: Get promotion & pay raise, get certification on XYZ, create and manage Customer Review team, join two professional groups outside of work.
  • Career: Buy motor home, pay off house, retire at 45.

Once you have a set of goals, you can start to see how to achieve them. For example:

  • To complete the TPS report tomorrow, I need to collect data from HR and get revenue numbers from Accounting
  • To finish the documentation, I need to block off a certain amount of time this week and next to finish 2 more sections.
  • To register for continuing education, I need to get a course catalog, investigate options, and confirm tuition reimbursement procedures.

Check in with your goals regularly to see how you're doing and where you need to adjust your actions. An overall goal lights up the path of the action steps to take!

Next: Remind yourself of your goals!

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