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Goal setting your way to greatness

Updated on June 7, 2012

Goal setting introduction

Goal setting will be your single greatest work before all others in ascending from where you are to where you want to be. A well designed goal is a paved road ahead of you guiding you to your destination. Earl Nightingale, the noted personal achievement coach, stated it well when he said “People with goals succeed because they know where they are going. It’s as simple as that.” It actually is as simple as that. You are going to end your day, your week, and your year somewhere. Wouldn’t you want to be in control of where that somewhere is? Every road leads somewhere, this article is designed to help you pick the road that’s right for you and see that you not only stay on course, but reach the end on schedule.

Do goals work? A recent study completed on Yale graduates answers this question. During school, only 3% of the study participants had kept a list of well defined goals for their school years and beyond. Twenty years later, the study was followed up with an assessment of their net worth. The 3% who had kept goals had a greater total net worth than the entire 97% of the graduates who had not. Granted, accumulating net worth is not the only way to measure success, however, this study does illustrate that for a given measure of performance, having a goal is invaluable.

Reading this article shows that at least you have some goal in mind to become better at what you do. Is pursuing a goal going to help you achieve it? Maybe, but only if you have the right motivation. Becoming the President, a doctor, an astronaut, a billionaire, or a getting that promotion are all lofty goals, but they are not the right goal for everyone. In order for any goal to be achievable it must first be meaningful to you, not imposed upon you by someone else. This, however, does not imply that you can disregard the wishes of your managers. If it is meaningful to you for you to keep your job, and your boss gives you a deadline for a project, then that project deadline becomes a meaningful goal since you want to keep your job! The point here is whatever your goals may be, make sure you can verbalize the meaningful motivation behind them; otherwise it likely will not be achieved and will just waste your time in its pursuit.

Often, goal setting for someone is just having a vague idea in their head that, for example, “I want to be a better optician this year than last year”. As we will learn, there is a science behind setting a good goal. We will discuss the four steps of creating a good goal and the four steps in making it happen. Don’t worry if you don’t memorize these steps, a Goal Setting Worksheet is provided at the end of this article to help you on your way to setting and achieving your goals, no matter how big or small.

Parts of a goal

Here are the four parts of a goal

1. Make it Meaningful

If being better at something is something you wish to attain (as reading this article would suggest) and you wish to set a goal to help you attain that, then the first question you must ask is why? Why do you want to attain this goal? The more personal the reason you have the more motivating the goal will be. There is no right answer, but make sure you know what “lights your fire” in your pursuit of the goal. Is it to make more money to support your family or take a long awaited vacation? Is it to be named Parent of the Year to make your family proud? If you
have to think too hard about this there probably is not sufficient motivation behind your goal. Try a different goal.

2. Make it Specific

A goal of “wanting to be a better barber” or “make more money” isn’t a specific
enough goal to make it a reality. How do you define “better”? Is it in selling more widgets or in increasing your time spent with your kids? Is it reducing your avoidable on-the-job-errors? If your goal is to make more money, how do you define more? How much more? $100 more than last year? 10% more than last year? How you define it does not matter, it will be different for everyone, just make sure you know the measure by which your goal will be evaluated and that it is appropriately linked with your meaningful motivation.

For example, if your motivation for making more money this year is to buy your dream car, your specific goal had better make you enough money to be able to finance the payments!

3. Make it Measurable

For a goal to be attainable, you need to be able to measure its success. A goal of, for example, “increasing the number of referrals I get from previous customers by 10% this year” is a very specific goal, but is it measurable? It may be, but only if two conditions apply. 1) You know what you accomplished in this area last year and 2) you can continue to track referrals in the coming year. For such a goal, you would have to have had a good referral log from the previous year to know exactly how many patient referrals you had. Additionally, you would want to make sure to continue such a referral log into this year.

What if, using this goal, you do not have adequate referral records from the previous year to measure a 10% increase? It may be best then to revise your goal to read “I will increase my patient referral base by 10% each month this year using a patient referral log to track my referral sources.” Such a goal is measurable even without any previous records because you are using the first month of your record keeping as the basis from which you grow 10% per month.

Goals often fall short of what they could achieve simply because the goal setter either does not make it measurable or sets the measurement bar too low. Remember to set your goal realistically, but do not short change yourself.

4. Make it Timely

Goals are not to be set for an indefinite period of time. There must be a time frame in which you hope to accomplish your goal. “Work will expand to fill the time allowed for its completion” is a quote that describes what will happen when working towards a goal with no deadline. Your goal needs to include a date on which you measure your success in achieving your goal.

Here are a few example of well written goals:

1) I will increase my listings in escrow (specific) by 10% (measurable) for the year ending 2011 compared to 2010 (timely) so that I can qualify for the year end bonus and make a down payment on that new car.

2) I will have my bonus (specific) increase 7% (measurable) this quarter compared to this quarter last year (timely) so that I can take that trip to Las Vegas (motivation)

3) I will increase my average dollar sale (specific) 25% each month (measurable) going forward compared to last year (timely) so that I can justify to my boss allowing me to take Fridays off to spend time with my ailing mother (motivation).

4-steps to making you goal a reality

While having an attainable goal with all above attributes does not by itself make it happen, it certainly helps. Now that we have a well conceived goal, how do we make it happen and turn this goal into a reality?

The four steps to make your goal a reality

1.Write it down

Simple yes. And absolutely necessary. A written goal is significantly more likely to be accomplished than one that is not written down.

2. Post it in a spot where you will see it daily

Tape it to the front of your computer screen. A refrigerator works well, too. Seeing it in print every day will rejuvenate, energize, and organize your thoughts around making the goal a reality. See, we are already through the first two steps and it has only taken you about 5 minutes.

3. Study what will be required

This is where the rubber meets the road. Prepare to meet your goal the same way you would prepare for a presentation, your retirement, or a job interview. Luck is never involved in achieving a goal. “Good luck” is commonly heard coming from acquaintances when you tell them of a goal. “Good Prepare” should be the mantra instead. This stage is the bulk of the work in meeting your goal. To take your performance to the next level in achieving your goal you will have to do something different than you have been. You cannot keep doing the same thing, using the same techniques, and expect a different outcome.

If your goal is to increase your sales by 10% over last year, you are going to have to learn some sales techniques which are different than the ones you are currently using. Ask your
manager for help in sales techniques and use any number of available resources to help improve sales techniques. Don’t think just within your industry when looking for resources. There are many great books on helping you improve your general sales techniques no matter what field you are in. Just check your local bookstore. The bigger your goal, the more new techniques you are likely to have to learn. To increase your sales 5% you may need only one new technique, to increase it 20% you will need three or more new techniques.

A second aspect of this stage is in creating a flowsheet to help you identify the
mini-steps needed to meet your goal. The bigger the goal, the more of these ministeps
there will be in your flowsheet. For example, if your goal is to become a licensed masseuse you will need to acquire study materials, apply for the test by the deadline, make time to study, and so forth. Making a list of these events will insure that you do not to miss a deadline and help to identify where bottlenecks may occur in your progress.

4. Measure progress

In order to achieve a goal, you must make an effort to measure your steps toward the goal. If a goal is set to be completed a year away, is can be hard to judge whether you are on track to complete it on time or not. Breaking it down into smaller monthly chunks so that you know if you are on track or need to speed up your work can be helpful. On the next pages, you will find the Goal Setting Worksheet. Make copies for each of your goals and enough for all your future goals. It is strongly recommended that you get yourself a goal setting book from your bookstore or library to learn more about the power of goal setting and other techniques to make them a reality.

Set goals for your professional life and personal life. Too often people wrap
their identity around what they do for a living and fail to set goals for personal
fulfillment. A person happy and fulfilled in their personal life will be a happy
and fulfilled optician. Remember, despite the fact that it may feel like you spend
most of your life at work, you are not your work. You are greater than your work.
You need to cultivate relationships, achievements, and dreams outside work or risk
never realizing your own personal greatness.


Writing your goal

1. What (SPECIFICALLY) do you want to accomplish?
2. How am I going to measure success (MEASUREMENT)
3. In what time frame will I complete this? (TIMELY)
4. Why do I want to accomplish this? (MOTIVATION)

Preparing your goal
What steps need to be undertaken in order to reach your goal?

Achieving your goal
Professional Goal: _____________________ Deadline:_____________
Step 1: __________________________ Deadline:_____________
Step 2: __________________________ Deadline:_____________
Step 3: __________________________ Deadline:_____________
Step 4: __________________________ Deadline:_____________
Step 5: __________________________ Deadline:_____________

Personal Goal _________________________ Deadline:_____________
Step 1: __________________________ Deadline:_____________
Step 2: __________________________ Deadline:_____________
Step 3: __________________________ Deadline:_____________
Step 4: __________________________ Deadline:_____________
Step 5: __________________________ Deadline:_____________


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