Particular times in one’s life spark our hopes and dreams. It may be that during holidays or before a milestone event such as getting married or before a baby is born; we consider our life and its direction. Goal planning means taking the initiative and recognising the responsibility to make things happen and achieve what you want out of life. Goals are the ‘things’ that you want to accomplish – it is a target or desired result. A goal is future focussed so we put our energy into the steps to enable us to attain our goal. The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in a range of areas in your life that includes career/work, education, family, physical or spiritual.
An example of a career goal is to attain a new job [(as a teacher, bookkeeper, administration assistant, customer service staff, manager, etc) within our qualifications and experience] within six months, or attain a promotion within a year. By knowing what you want, it helps you to concentrate your efforts, and action plan the distractions that stand in the way. Goal planning requires self knowledge to identify your needs, purpose and values, motivation and commitment to carry out the goals in spite of events and difficulties that arise, and skills to implement the strategies
When we plan our goals, we empower ourselves to achieve what we are seeking in life.
A goal is:
- personal – something you sincerely want rather than something you think you should want.
- positive – something you desire rather than what you do not want.
- written – as a reminder and a permanent record of your goal commitment.
- specific – as this avoids the lack of commitment that comes with being vague.
- challenge – just out of reach but not out of sight.
- realistic – otherwise it is a figment of your imagination.
- measurable – described in terms of the final outcome of an activity rather than the activity itself.
When planning your goals, use the SMART formula. SMART is an acronym that stands for:
S – SPECIFIC
Your goals must be specifically defined. Example, to attain a new job as a teacher, bookkeeper, administration assistant, customer service staff, chef or attain a promotion.
When a goal is too general, it will lack the commitment that comes when being vague.
M – MEASURABLE
Measurable ensures you know when you’ve reached it! An important point to remember is, ‘If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.’ Therefore, goals have to be observable and measurable.
You can measure to see how you are going in terms of getting the job or the promotion. How many applications have you submitted? How many interviews have you had? How many unsuccessful applications emails have you received?
Measurable goals can be described in terms of the final outcome of an activity and time specific, rather than the activity itself.
A – ATTAINABLE
Your goal will need to be realistic and stretch you in the process.
Your goal must be a challenge yet also obtainable, otherwise, it will be a task for you to complete.
R – RELEVANT
Set goals in areas that are important to you in terms of your job or personal life. Aim to add value to the organization, to avoid superficially completing tasks to fill in time.
T – TIME FRAMED AND TRACKABLE
Your goal is time framed so you have an end date by when complete your tasks and goal.
The examples point to attain a new job within 6 months [say July 11] or a promotion within a year [say December 6]. All your actions point to this deadline.
To achieve your goal requires you to do some backward planning. You are working from your deadline backwards to set interim goals. Your progress can be tracked until the final goal is achieved.
If a goal consists of completing a task such as a portfolio for your job application or promotion that is due on a particular date such as June 5, it will assist you to devise a plan with stages and completion dates.
Goal planning is used by top level athletes, successful business people and achievers in all fields of life. Setting goals gives you long term vision and short term motivation. Once you achieve your goal, you can take pride, gain confidence and move forward in your life.
Good luck, and enjoy the journey.
Leah Shmerling is the Director and Principal Consultant of Crown Coaching and Training, author, and has over 30 years experience in career development, life coaching, education and training.
Leah is a published author of 2 books: Job Applications the Winning Edge, and Communication in the Workplace. She is a former freelance writer for Herald Sun – where she wrote in Education, the The Age – wrote in Education, Employment and had a few articles published in Business.
Leah is a professional member of the Career Development Association Australia (CDAA), a professional member of Australian Career Professionals International (ACPi-Aus). She has international accreditation and is Board Certified as a Career Management Fellow with the Institute of Career Certification.