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Setting Goals for 2009

It’s a common phenomenon for everyone to make New Year resolutions at the last minute on New Year’s Eve, and typically, they’re personal and hard to keep. Think about how many times you’ve done the same in the past. Just how many of those resolutions did you actually stick to?

This is a relevant story today as it will ever be in future.

The ten resolutions, in short, are:

  1. start setting goals
  2. ask a client for a referral
  3. focus on profit, rather than turnover
  4. learn something new about business
  5. take time for yourself
  6. create products that generate income
  7. delegate effectively
  8. focus on client service
  9. take time to wander the Web
  10. build rock-solid procedures

The start of the calendar year is perfect for us to look at implementing the first one: goal setting.

Setting goals helps filter all of the thousands of thoughts and ideas you have into a list that’s far more manageable. High achievers in every field from sports to business consistently suggest that goal-setting is an invaluable part of the process. Goals can help you define your objectives and understand what’s important to you, motivate you towards achievement, and build your self-confidence.

So what is a great goal?

Many people use the acronym SMART when creating goals, as well as for other project management methods. SMART stands for:

Specific

Ask yourself if the description of the goal is precise? A plausible goal is very specific and easy to understand. Goals such as “increase amount of clients” or “make more profit” are too vague. Instead, use specific language, such as “add three new clients to portfolio before end of March” or “increase average profit on all jobs by 5% before middle of the year.”

Measurable

Does the goal explain how you’ll measure results? A solid goal has a measurable outcome, so that you’re able to determine if you’ve achieved it, and it helps you stay on track. Hence why I used very specific terms, like 5% profit increase or three new clients. This helps spur you on towards your goal, assuming the goal is attainable.

Attainable

Is the goal possible to achieve, with some effort? If you set far-reaching goals, you may be unable to commit to realizing them; for example, “increase turnover by 1000% within three months” is probably way beyond your current means. However, the goal should require some effort; for instance, “wake up each day before lunchtime” is easily achievable for most people, and so is unworthy goal-wise.

A proper goal should stretch you slightly so that you need to be committed, yet should also feel attainable. “Increase client base by at least two per month for next six months” is a goal you’d possibly need to work hard to reach, but is still feasible.

Realistic

Ask yourself: do you have the power to control the results? You need to feel that you can reach your goals, and that you have an influence on them. Having a goal like “co-workers to be nicer to clients” is, fundamentally, out of your control, even if you are the boss. A better goal would be “run monthly workshops for employees that focus on client service.”

Timely

A concrete goal has a deadline. It may be as limited as the end of next week, or as long as the end of 2009. Deadlines help you manage your time towards achieving goals. Without a deadline, the goal will appear to be unimportant and never happen. Set a realistic deadline, with a suitable time frame.

It’s a good idea to limit yourself to just a handful of short-term and medium-term goals. Writing an exhaustive list of everything you would like to complete before you leave this earth is a sure way to de-motivate yourself.

Set some goals today, and look forward to a more productive 2009!


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