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Effective Goal-Setting

Without effective goals, your hard work may not produce meaningful results.

By Preeti Vasishtha

Hard work puts you on the road to success. But to achieve success, you need to set effective goals. Well-constructed goals are the points on the roadmap where you can apply your energy and, in turn, achieve the desired results. Goals motivate you and show you the right path.

In the book, Goal Setting: How to Create an Action Plan and Achieve Your Goals, authors Susan B. Wilson and Michael S. Dobson say that most people who achieve their goals write them down and develop plans to implement them. In Chapter 1, titled “Getting Started,” the authors offer 10 steps you can use to evaluate and write down your goals.

Before following those guidelines, you first need to identify two of your goals and write them down. Then, you should complete the following self-audit by checking “Nearly Always,” “Sometimes,” or “Rarely” for each statement.

Self-Audit for Goal-Setting
  Rarely Nearly Always Sometimes
  1. When I set a goal, I write it down.
  1. I describe my goal in specific, measurable terms.
  1. I often visualize my goals.
  1. My goals are achievable.
  1. I set realistic deadlines for completing my goals.
  1. I break a large goal into manageable units.
  1. I look for potential problems that may keep me from reaching my goals.
  1. I take action to remove or minimize those potential problems.
  1. I review progress toward my goals on a regular basis.
  1. I know the personal rewards of reaching my goals.

To score yourself:

  • Count the number of times you responded “Nearly Always” and multiply that number by three.
  • Multiply the number of times you responded “Sometimes” by two.
  • Multiply the number of times you responded “Rarely” by one.
  • Add the three for a total score.

If you score between 24 and 30, you do an excellent job of setting effective goals, according to the authors. A score of 18 to 23 means that you’re on your way to setting goals effectively. The areas that require additional work are where your responses are less than “Nearly Always.” A score of fewer than 18 indicates that you can improve your goal-setting.

  1. Write down your goals. This is your first step to achieving them. Once you write down what you want to achieve, it becomes concrete and real.
  2. Use specific, measurable terms. When you write down a goal in specific terms, you can easily measure that goal and evaluate your performance. If your goal is to learn a new software package, your specific goal should say: I will take a WordPerfect class between May and June, and spend eight hours every week learning it.
  3. Visualize your goals. Picture yourself achieving your goal. Visualize the result and your feelings. Your energy to reach your goals comes from your desire to attain them. The more you desire something, the harder you will work to achieve it.
  4. Make goals achievable. Your goals should be such that they challenge your skills and abilities without discouraging you. As you succeed and grow more confident, aim for higher goals.
  5. Work with realistic deadlines. Chances are that you will take action if you set a realistic timeframe for reaching your goal. But be careful not to give yourself so much time that you lose interest in your goal.
  6. Keep it manageable. If you divide a goal into smaller components, it will become easier to manage and achieve it. Instead of thinking that you need to gain 72 accounts this year, think in terms of six accounts each month.
  7. Look for problems. When you create a goal, analyze it for potential problems that may stop you from reaching it. By doing this, you can resolve or minimize problems before they occur.
  8. Create ways to reduce problems. Once you have identified the potential problems, you need to figure out how you will either remove the cause of the problem or minimize its consequences.
  9. Review your progress. Periodically review your goals to make sure they are still relevant and realistic. For example, when reviewing them, you may find out that an accounting software program is more useful to you than an advanced course in a WordPerfect class.
  10. Reward yourself. Your motivation to work toward your goals will remain high when you know and desire the rewards. As you establish each goal, identify and associate one reward that has value for you. It may be money, a day off or a weekend trip.


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