Set and Achieve Goals
Our last lesson focused on organization and how important it is for managing people’s perception of you and your skills. As we near the end of your course, we’re going to look at two final skills that you can take your career as far as you desire: Setting and Achieving Goals and Leadership. We’ll start with goal setting, the cornerstone of all achievement.
In every position you hold in your career, you will be required to meet goals. Sometimes, how you achieve the goal is set down in a process that must be followed; often, it’s up to you to decide how to accomplish the goal. As you assume more responsibility and advance into management and leadership roles, you will become more responsible for setting and realizing organizational goals.
Traditionally, the acronym SMART has been used to characterize the factors that result in goal achievement. The letters stand for:
S – Specific. You need to visualize the result so you can create action steps that move you toward the goal. The more detail you include, the more motivating the goal becomes, and the easier it is to stay the course.
M – Measurable. You need to be able to measure your progress, so you must define the metrics you use to determine the relative success of the goal.
A – Attainable. You want to stretch and grow, so you must set goals that you can reach with a reasonable amount of effort. Don’t make them too easy and don’t make them too hard.
R – Relevant. Your goals need meaning for you. It is harder to achieve a goal if it doesn’t contribute something useful for your life or work satisfaction and success.
T – Timed. A goal isn’t a goal without a deadline for reaching it. All goals need a due date when it will be completed; otherwise, it isn’t a goal—it’s a wish.
SMART Goals Need an Action Plan
Generally, people are advised to set short-term goals (3 to 6 months ahead), mid-term goals (1 to 3 years out), and long-term goals (3+ years away). This helps you identify what you need to do now to achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you want to get a Master’s degree, you need to clearly understand what actions are necessary to achieve it and then take them step-by-step. If you aspire to a managerial or executive role, you need to create the groundwork today.
• Start with the deadline for achieving a goal and work backward, identifying every task you need to take to achieve it.
• Break each task down into a series of action steps and organize them in to a logical order from the present time to the deadline.
• Allow sufficient time for each task to account for demands on your time and lifestyle.
• Identify the resources you need and create a separate plan to get them.
• Consider any obstacles you might face and decide how you are going to handle them. You always want a Plan B, C, or even D, so you don’t get sidetracked from the path to your goal.
You now have a detailed action plan that you can easily execute.
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Action Steps to Improve and Showcase Your Goal-Setting Skills
• Meet all deadlines and deliver over and above your job requirements.
• Volunteer to lead project teams.
• Set SMART goals for your career and share them with your manager.
• Research and take programs that your company offers to help you on your path to success.
• Keep an Accomplishment Journal where you capture all your achievements each week. Seeing progress will help you stay motivated.
• Continue to update your plan as you learn new skills and move closer to your goal.
In our final lesson tomorrow, you will discover how to develop and demonstrate your leadership skills and improve your opportunities for career advancement.
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