Set high goals for yourself – and then achieve them. Set goals that are S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results Oriented and Time Bound). Develop milestones for accomplishing your goals. Milestones are steps along the way to goal achievement. They keep you on track and they motivate you by giving you reason to celebrate when you accomplish them.
All outstanding performers set goals. Then they meet or exceed them. They do this day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. I am 58 years old, and have been in business for myself for 20 years. I set goals every year and develop quarterly milestones for those goals. I measure myself against these goals and milestones. It’s a habit I developed when I was first out of college. It’s served me well over the years.
Here are some easy steps to accomplish any goal.
Get focused. Make sure your goals are specific and measurable. The best goals are tightly focused. They are also measurable. For example, when I was writing this book, I set a goal for completing the first draft by a certain date. As you can see, this goal is very specific – finish a first draft of a book by a certain date. It is also measurable. I had a first draft completed by the date I set. Setting a date is a very good way of measuring your goal achievement. It is a very clear measure. You have either accomplished your goal by that date, or you haven’t.
Ask why. Ask yourself, “Why do I want to accomplish this goal?” The answer to this question will provide you with the focus and motivation you need to keep plugging away when you encounter setbacks.
Get help. It’s difficult to do everything by yourself. Identify friends and co-workers who can help you accomplish your goals. Most people are very willing to help, if you ask them.
Make a plan. Develop an action plan for accomplishing your goals. By their very nature, goals have some complexity. Accomplishing them takes more than a few steps or actions. List all the things you’ll need to do to accomplish your goals. Focus on the critical few things you need to do to, not the trivial many. Break your goals into pieces; set milestones, or mini goals. Accomplishing these milestones will give you the motivation to continue working toward accomplishing your ultimate goal of career success.
Prepare for the worst. Ask yourself, “What can go wrong?” and “What obstacles am I likely to encounter along the way?” If you identify these potential problems and make some tentative plans for how you will deal with them before you begin work on your goals, they will be less jarring and upsetting when they happen. You’ll be able to take them in stride and keep moving forward.
Take action. Like the Nike ads say, “Just do it!” You’ve planned your work, now work your plan. Begin with step one and continue until you’ve accomplished your goals.
Adapt. Make adjustments on the fly. As you work towards your goals, focus on making sure that the actions you are taking are actually moving you closer to achieving them. You may find that your original plans were off target. If so, revise your plans and keep on working.
Reflect. When you have successfully completed all of the steps in your plan for a particular goal, take a minute to reflect. Go back to the first step, your specific and measurable goal. Review your results. Ask yourself if you actually accomplished what you set out to do. If so, great. If not, consider revising your goal, or developing a new plan to get you to your original goal.