Nobody with any degree of motivation imagines that they’ll be in the same job, at the same pay rate, five years from now. But what do you do if you want to move beyond your current position? You need to set goals—but how do you do that for maximum chances of success? Here are some tips.
Make your goals SMART
Unless your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely, you’re not going to be able to achieve them. It’s not enough, for example, to say that you’d like to own your own business. You need to set a goal like, “I will own my own business in five years.” This specific goal is also measurable because you can track your progress toward that goal. It’s achievable and realistic if you are motivated, and timely because you’ve set a time limit for achieving that long-term goal.
Because SMART goals must be measurable and achievable, create milestones (or short-term goals) in support of your long-term goal. For example, you could create a short-term goal of finding at least one mentor within a month, or taking an accounting or bookkeeping class within a year to support your ability to manage your business finances.
Build your network
Once you’ve decided on the goal you want to achieve, some of the milestones you create should revolve around building your network. Seek out mentors in your desired career field, talk to people at networking events and conferences, and build connections with people online through career-oriented social media channels. By building your network, you’ll have a better chance of successfully achieving your goals.
Be committed and accountable
You can create all the long-term and short-term goals you want, but if you’re not committed to them, you won’t succeed. If you believe your goal is important and attainable, you’re more likely to do the work necessary to achieve it. Likewise, you need to be accountable, so make sure a mentor or fellow entrepreneur is there to hold you to your long-term and short-term goals.
On the other hand, be flexible
You may find that you need to change your timeline for achievement of your goals. For example, if you have a goal of graduating from college in three years, but then realize you can’t do that while also working full-time, don’t be afraid to modify that goal. Maybe you can take one or two evening classes each semester.
However, there’s also a chance that a goal you set may no longer be important to you; in that case, set yourself a new SMART goal to achieve.
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