A primary skill of successful people is goal setting and task management. Using these practices is a sign of maturity: when you recognize that you can’t do it alone, you can’t keep it all in your head, and you can’t just bounce from idea to idea you might have at the moment. This truth is the foundation of how things get done in the world: planning, sequencing of tasks, and disciplined execution.
Where in your life will goal setting help? Generally, we all have these areas of our lives
Personal – these tend to be about personal growth, achievements, adventures, impact, and how we live our lives. Personal goals can also include your “bucket list:” things you want to do before you “kick the bucket” (die).
Family – What does your ideal family look like? Do you want to get married and have kids? When does it make sense to build your family? What relationship do you want with your parents and siblings and the extended members of your family?
Professional – What represents your highest ideal of professional success? Do you want to work in one field throughout your career or have many? What are the pathways to achieve this? Do you plan to retire or transition to an “encore” career?
Societal – What contributions do you want to make to your larger world? Where might you volunteer your services? Do you have a big idea that might become a nonprofit? Do you have a personal mission or purpose that you would guide your profession and career selection?
The best practice in goal setting is to start with the end in mind. In product development, we start with customer needs. In education, we start with learning objectives. Define the endpoint, then develop the sequence of activities and tasks that map the optimal route to accomplish the goal.
Writing Your Goals
The second best practice is to define goals using a specific methodology known as “SMART” goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for:
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Achievable or Attainable– the goal is within your reach to accomplish,
- Relevant or Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-bounded – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
This is a common model and a proven tactic. To the degree you can do this, you will be successful.
How do you record these goals? The answer is to do what works for you. Personally, I like to keep it simple: a plain word or spreadsheet document. But there are a lot of tools out there that can help. Another creative way to approach this project is with a Vision Board. There are many approaches and tools for vision boards, and they really do help by helping you consciously express your visions and setting intentions for your life.
Start your goal-setting process by brainstorming, writing down your ideas, taking notes, creating a vision board. Talk with the people who know you best and get their feedback on your ideas. Then update your goals and start to work on them. Break down your top goals into tasks and chip away. Most of these will take work, and the big goals take persistence. It’s that persistence that makes the difference.
Enjoy the journey.
Once you have completed this lesson, you can go on to the remaining lessons in the series. The Career Storybook series provides the foundation you will need to find your next position. Remember, you will have better results if you work with one of our Professional Coaches in our success groups and group courses.
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If you’re struggling emotionally or with motivation, explore our Keystones on-demand course for some basic self-care.