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New Year’s seems synonymous with fresh starts and new beginnings. But anytime is the right time to start anew. Whether you’re in the market for a new job or trying to build your business, now is the time to renew your efforts. It’s also a time to stop clinging to tactics that haven’t been working and move forward with some SMART goal tending.
As any coach will tell you, one of the keys to success is setting goals. This does not mean making vague statements like, “I will find a new job” or “I will increase my business.” It means creating a written plan that includes reasonable and measurable long-term and short-term objectives.
What coaches may not admit is that setting goals isn’t easy. Setting goals is more than deciding what you want to do. It involves figuring out what you need to do to get where you want to go. And how long it will take you to get there.
While working as a vocational counselor, I learned the importance of setting goals. More specifically, I learned how to help my clients set concrete, measurable goals. Here, I’ll try to share that process with you.
Creating a Plan
Because most of us can relate to getting in shape, I decided to use weight loss as my example. Let’s say, you want to drop a few pounds. That’s a common New Year’s resolution. The first step is to figure out how much weight you’d like to lose and how quickly you want to lose it. Remember your goals need to be reasonable, as well as measurable: It’s unlikely you’ll lose ten pounds in one week without surgery.
For the purposes of this article, I’ll use myself as the example. We’ll say I want to lose ten pounds. That’s my long-term goal. Research tells me that healthy weight loss is approximately one-to-two pounds per week. So I’ll say ten pounds in two months: at one-to-two pounds per week this is a reasonable expectation. Because I’d like to tone up as well, I’ve decided to include exercise as well as diet in my weight-loss plan.
The next step is to set my short-term goals. These include everything I’ll do to help me achieve my long-term objective. Having daily and weekly goals will help me keep track of my progress. It will also help me stay focused. Using these principles, here’s the weight-loss plan I’ve developed:
Long-term Goal: Lose ten pounds in two months
Both my long-term and short-term goals are reasonable and measurable. Whenever I exercise I will mark it down on my wall calendar. Looking at my calendar keeping a food diary will help me monitor my activities. Every day I will know that I am working towards my long-term goal.
Making it Yours
Now you know the fundamentals of setting long- and short-term goals. The next step is to translate this process to your needs.
What do you want? Whether your goal is to find a new job or increase your business, networking should be part of your plan. But, networking in and of itself is too vague to be a goal. Instead plan to connect with six new people this year. To achieve this long-term goal, set a short-term goal of attending one or two events a month. Experiment with different organizations and venues to determine which work best for you.
Over the next couple of weeks, take some time to determine what you want. Is your goal to get a promotion this year? Before you can set your short-term goals, you need to figure out what it will take to achieve your long-term goal. Study other successful women. Talk to a mentor. Use this information to formulate your plan.
Do you want to increase your business? Depending on your circumstances, signing on one new client a month may be a reasonable goal. You’ll need to determine which daily and weekly actions will help you attract these new clients. Again, get advice from other businesswomen. Join an organization with a mentoring program.
While successful people know you have to stretch your talents to grow, they also know it’s important to set reasonable goals. Never set yourself up for failure.
Remember the weight loss example. Knowing healthy weight loss means dropping one to two pounds a week trying to lose ten pounds in two weeks would be unrealistic. Keep this in mind when setting your business goals. Don’t try to find a new job or get six new clients in one month. You’re just setting yourself up to fail.
The first step to success is knowing where you want to go. The second step is creating a plan. Try not to be in too much of a hurry. And don’t be afraid to stop and ask for directions along the way
Want a step-by-step guide for developing your Goals? Download Stop Dreaming & Start Doing: A Practical Guide for Getting What You Want With SMART Goals from amazon.com today.