Set powerful goals with James Manktelow & Amy Carlson.
James Manktelow: Hello. I'm James Manktelow, CEO of MindTools.com, home to hundreds of free career-building tools and resources.
Amy Carlson: And I'm Amy Carlson from Mind Tools. Do you ever feel that you're lacking direction, or that your not achieving everything you could? If so, you'd probably benefit from goal setting – one of the most powerful career success techniques there is.
JM: In this context, a goal is a personal objective – something you want to achieve within a specific period of time. Goal setting is the process you use to clarify what you want from your life and career, presented as a series of goals.
Goals are powerful motivators for building your career, and they improve self-confidence too, because you can measure your achievements and take pride in them.
Start by looking across your life, and brainstorming what you would like to achieve in the different areas, like career, education, family, and personal finances. Set your large-scale goals first – the ones you hope to achieve in your lifetime, or at least in the next ten years. Then break these goals down into smaller targets, which will move you towards achieving these lifetime goals.
AC: Following a goal plan isn't always easy, but there are some tips and tricks that will help. First, make sure that all your goals are worded as positive statements. So you'll want to say something like, "Be a good parent," rather than "Don't be a bad parent."
Prioritizing your goals will make them seem more manageable, so put them in order of importance – and do write them down. They'll be no good to you in your head, where they can be easily forgotten.
JM: And don't scrimp on the detail. If you set precise goals that include dates, times and amounts, you'll be able to measure your achievement, and get a sense of satisfaction from it.
It's also useful to keep your day-to-day goals small and realistic, otherwise you won't feel that you're making progress.
Finally, your goals should be related to performance, not outcomes, so you have as much control over them as possible. For example, a goal might be to make more sales calls, rather than to bring in more revenue.
AC: A lot of people use the word SMART as a mnemonic for the kind of goals you should set: S for Specific; M for Measurable; A for Attainable; R for Relevant; T for Time-bound.
JM: Once you've achieved a goal, give yourself a pat on the back – then review your existing goal plan and adapt it as you see fit. Did you achieve that goal too easily? If so, make your next goals harder. Or if the goal took too long to achieve, make your next goals a little easier.
Keep tweaking your goal plan as you work through your goals, and move closer towards your vision of your future.
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