Achieving Goals: It’s All About the Steps You Take Every Day

Making New Year's Resolutions Last All YearI ran across an article today that says 35 percent of Americans break their New Year’s resolutions by the end of January. That’s unfortunate, but not surprising.

As a long-time salesperson and now VP of sales with Copeco, one of Northeast Ohio’s leading providers of Sharp copiers and printers, I believe the steps you take every day toward your goal are more important than the goal itself. Without a clearly defined plan of action, goals end up being a fog or a glittering generality. And, I’m sure, that’s a major reason why people give up on New Year’s resolutions so quickly.

When it’s time to plan goals for the New Year (or any time of the year), here’s the method I like to follow. Not only does it work when applied consistently, but it also can be adapted to fit every part of your life, including career, personal, family and more.

It’s not hard to do, but throughout the process, you must WRITE everything down. If you don’t, all your ideas are little more than – you guessed it – glittering generalities.

  1. Write down these six main categories: financial, career, education, spiritual, family and physical.
  2. Put the categories in order of most important to least important for you. Those last two words are critical because goal planning encompasses every aspect of your life and should be a very personalized process.
  3. Identify a goal for each category. Be specific and, yes, write it down.
  4. Carefully and strategically plan your steps to get to that goal, in writing.

For example, if you place your career at the top of your list and say your goal is to earn $100,000 per year, you have to decide if you’re willing to do what it takes to achieve that goal. And, you must place that goal within the context of your history. To make $100,000 a year, you might need to sell 1,000 widgets. But, in the past, you’ve normally sold only 500 widgets. Is your goal one of those glittering generalities?

Each goal you create must also include these important items:

  • Time frame. A goal without a time frame is a day dream.
  • Obstacles. What stands in your way? How do you overcome the obstacle?
  • People. Identify the people that can help you attain your goal. Also, determine whom you will share your goal with so that you will stay accountable.
  • Knowledge. Identify the knowledge you must have to attain your goal.
  • WIIFM. What’s in it for me? Why are you setting this goal?

Key Ingredient: the Plan of Action

Any plan of action for achieving a goal must be implemented on a daily basis. So, dissect your goal into microgoals that are manageable. What can you do each and every day that will move you a little bit closer to your goal? As with the goal itself, your plan of action must be specific.

Avoid getting behind or spending all your time putting out fires. If you do, you’ll get overwhelmed. Then the goal becomes an irritant.

So, write down your microgoals and stick to your daily plan. It’s all about the preparation!

How to Help Others with Goal Planning

If you’re a manager who’s responsible for helping others set goals, you must make sure the person you’re working with develops and takes ownership of their goals. You must be on the same page. If you give people a goal, it’s no longer their goal.

Plus, the result of achieving the goal should be fulfilling, as opposed to giving a negative consequence for failure. Build people up! I believe you’ll get a person to push harder if they feel supported. The process must be motivating, and, of course, everyone has different motivations. As a manager, you have to figure out what motivates each person who works for you.

In the end, you can’t sell yourself or anyone else on goals. Each of us must own our goals and implement a consistent plan of action for achieving them. Hopefully, this encourages you to establish and work toward your New Year’s resolutions differently – and more successfully – in 2012.

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