This is the 17th of a series of newsletters published on Business Management and Management Skills. Not all topics will apply to your business, but each section will be beneficial to establish company goals and objectives. By reading and studying these newsletter articles, you’re taking the first step in achieving your goals.

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A GOAL is defined as “an end one strives to attain.” Everyone has goals, and at some time talks about things they would like to achieve in business or in their personal life. Some are quite ambitious - “I’d like to start my own business and be listed in the Fortune 500.” Some are seemingly minor - “I’d like to clean out my desk (or closet) so when I go looking for something, it’s there!”

There are health-related goals (quit smoking, exercise daily, lose weight); personal goals (be a waterski champion, increase my bowling average, change my hair color, get a new car); spiritual goals (establish a better relationship with my children, attend religious services on a regular basis); and business goals (get a promotion, a raise, or get additional training). Setting goals for personal improvement means that you want to improve some aspects of your life.

People have a natural tendency to conform. They listen to their friends, co-workers and associates. Unfortunately, some people tend to belittle the goals and aspirations of others, especially if they are completely different from their own. If they’re trying to better themselves, perhaps by going back to college, chances are someone is going to make fun of them. Names like "brown-noser," and "goody-two-shoes" are all too common because a few people feel threatened by another's attempt at bettering themselves.

Goal setting is difficult, not only because it forces you to objectively evaluate each goal that you choose to set, but also because it requires extraordinary commitment to follow through and achieve those goals. Assess your own strengths and limitations objectively. Think hard about what you want to achieve and consider any financial resources needed, as well as compromises and sacrifices that may have to be made; in short, all the associated risks. Determine if this is something you really want to accomplish - then DO it!

The first step is to identify your goals right now. Procrastination is one of the biggest barriers to effective goal setting and requires a strong effort and commitment on your part to make every moment count. Ask yourself questions like:

What does success mean to me?
What are the five most important things in my life?
What do I want to accomplish in my work?

There are basically two types of goals, long-range and short-range. Make a list of everything you ever considered doing or accomplishing. Your list can include topics ranging from business, financial, family, spiritual, physical or mental goals. Use a "brainstorming" form to write everything that you’ve ever considered being, doing or having. List as much as you want. Even "off the wall” goals belong here, because even "off the wall" goals have a basis that may have to be modified, but can be used as a starting point for establishing your own goals.

The next step is to determine if the goal is short-range (can be accomplished in one year or less), intermediate (can be accomplished in one to five years), or a long-range or lifetime goal. Set realistic dates to achieve your goal(s) and write these dates down. Once the list is made, don't put it in a drawer and forget about it. Place the list in your bedroom, perhaps on a mirror, so that you’ll look at it everyday. To achieve goals, you must be willing to make the commitment to follow up. Review your goal sheets on a monthly basis, at a minimum. Work hard! Do it now!

Next, realistically evaluate your present status in each of the goal areas you’ve selected. Many times it’s difficult to be critically objective about these things. For instance, if one of your goals is to develop a strong understanding of financial areas of your business, seek the advice of your accountant to determine if the records you’re now keeping and the billing or collection procedures you’ve established are effective. Begin to develop a list of the steps you’re going to take to achieve your goals.

If your goal is to learn a new sport, enlist the help of a coach or personal trainer to lay the groundwork properly. If you’ve set a goal to become more tolerant with family and friends, ask them how they perceive your feelings toward them to be. This is no time to "flinch" from criticism. Understand that you are asking a question and you must be willing to receive without responding negatively to the answer you receive.

From these interviews, you can better determine where you are and be better able to determine approximately how long it will take you to achieve your goal. Decide if you will require additional formal training or perhaps professional counseling, coaching-type help. Research the methods needed to achieve your goals, and plan your completion date accordingly.

Select at least two goals that you will work on every day. It will be easier to select these goals if you remember that you must answer “yes" to these five questions about each of your goals.

1. Is it really my personal goal?
2. Is it morally right and fair to everyone?
3. If the goal is a short-range step, is it consistent with my long-range or lifetime goals?
4. Can I emotionally commit myself to start and finish the project?
5. Can I see myself achieving this objective?

As a confidence builder, especially if you've never set goals before, select short-range goals you know you can reach (one month to achieve).

Helping Others (Employees) Develop Goals - Once you’ve achieved some success yourself with these techniques, you can share them with family members, friends or co-workers.

Just as managers establish their own goals for growth, expansion and profitability of the company, so must they establish goals for their employees. This requires a fine balance of creating a goal that will give incentives for employees to extend themselves beyond their current abilities, but not so remote that reaching it will be beyond their ability to achieve, and thereby create a feeling of frustration and apathy.

Ambitious people typically react favorably to a challenge. Your job is to set attainable goals, provide direction, support and encouragement, and make them feel that you have confidence in their abilities and have faith that they will achieve the goals. When you build a challenge with their agreement, you obtain agreement as to their acceptance of responsibility for achievement. No pain, no gain, so the saying goes, but so too does it follow that no potential loss, no potential benefit. To the risk takers go the rewards!

Setting goals for personal improvement means that you’re moving forward. Don’t let your life be filled with regrets and “if only’s.” Make up your mind to do the things that you truly feel will better your life. If you really want to improve your quality of live, whatever the goal, make the commitment and - GO for it!

Copyright © 2002 Mike Holt Enterprises,Inc.
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