Call Your Shot
In sports or pool, sometimes a player will say or point to where their shot will go before they make it. The point of this is to show your skill when you put the ball where you called it. There’s power in calling your shot. Successful people do this all the time and a big part of why it works is accountability. Fear of failure is a real thing, but ask yourself, who are you hurting if you fail and who are you helping when you win? Would you be embarrassed or feel like you let someone down? Really examine your answers to these questions. What would it hurt to speak your goal publicly or write it down?
One of my favorite career stories this year was about Sara Blakely, CEO of Spanx, selling her company to Blackstone in a $1.2 billion deal. From selling fax machines door-to-door to becoming the youngest self-made woman, this was a defining moment.
To celebrate, she gave all of her employees two first-class tickets to anywhere in the world and $10,000 to invest towards their trip. In the video (watch it here), she says “I said this company will one day be worth $20 million and everybody laughed at me.”
Not only does she have a huge success story, but she created an incredible company culture along the way. The moral of this story is, don’t give up on your dreams – even if people laugh at your goal. Who cares what they think? You can be the one laughing at the end when you reach it!
Take an Audit of the Previous Year
The end of the year is a natural time to start looking at your goals. But before we start goal setting, consider taking an audit of your life and looking back at the last few years. Some people audit based only on financial or career goals, but you really want to look at your life as a whole. Looking at where you’re actually investing your time and resources might provide some insight into what’s most important to you.
Here are a few categories to consider:
- Leisure time
In each of the categories you select, take inventory of how much time you spend there, what’s important to you, what you want to accomplish, etc. Sometimes it can help to journal and describe your ideal version of yourself in 5-10 years. What is that person like in each of these areas? Compare that vision to your current life – are there any areas you want to work on? Completing this exercise will provide a complete picture as you work on a plan to achieve your goals.
If you specifically want to focus on your career in the new year, consider doing your own end-of-year personal career review. This is an important exercise to complete before you start 2022 planning and goal setting. Are you happy with your career and the path you’re on? Are you looking for more? What things went well and what lessons did you learn? Here’s how to go about a personal career review:
Review your goals from last year – Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Why or why not? Did your goals change and send you in a different direction? Maybe you were on parental leave this year or an unforeseen work project like a merger or the pandemic took over your list of priorities.
Make a list of everything you accomplished – Add everything big and small. What things stood out to you? Remember this shouldn’t only include your accomplishments on the job, but your career as a whole.
Identify what goals are unfinished – Are these still priorities? If so, can they be accomplished in Q1? Why did they get missed?
Take a time audit – What did you spend the most time on? What does a day or a week look like for you? Are there areas you can increase your efficiency?
Consult your mentors – You should have your own “board of directors” that you consult throughout your career. If you don’t have them, now is the perfect time to start building those relationships for the new year. Group coaching like my Crossroads Mastermind is also an option to find several accountability partners to cheer you on.
Set SMART Goals
First, take an assessment of where you are. Your 5–10-year plan might look completely different after the past few years. You may not have even had time to consider how things have changed. if your priorities have changed, take the next few weeks to dream about your future self. What are you doing? What does success look like to you?
If you want to achieve your goals, make them SMART goals. Remember SMART stands for (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals. What are your short-term (within a year) and long-term (within five to 10 years) career goals? Make sure to write them down and keep them visible to hold yourself accountable.
Let’s break this down with an example. Say your goal is to hold a leadership position one day. Let’s make it SMART.
S = Be Specific
You want a leadership position; this could mean a lot of different things. What does “leadership” mean to you? Is it managing a certain amount of people? Holding a certain job title? Making a specific salary? Making decisions? Drill down into what exactly that means.
M = Make it Measurable
How will you know if you’ve achieved your goal if you have no way to show that you’ve made progress? If your goal is to have a leadership position, what do you need to do to get there? If you’re at the beginning of your career, you may have to set small milestones that you will hit before you reach the big goal. These might include:
- Counting the number of management positions you’ve applied for.
- If your definition of “leadership” is managing a certain number of people, say 100, try moving up in increments of five people over time.
- Your industry could require a certification or advanced degree for a management position so making a plan to complete that might be the first step.
- Maybe you need to start networking and adding mentors that already have the position you desire.
- It could even be something like starting to read leadership books to develop your management style.
Whatever your milestones are, you should be able to look back at them and track your progress
A = Is it Attainable?
This is where reality comes into play. It is unrealistic to expect that you are going to go from an entry-level position to all of a sudden managing 100 people overnight. First, you need to identify the types of positions you are looking for and find real people that hold them. What are their backgrounds? What types of experience and skills do you need to land those types of positions? This will help you figure out what is attainable in a specific amount of time.
R = How is it Relevant?
Sometimes we get stuck on things that we think we want, but don’t necessarily help us achieve our goals. For example, you might have your heart set on finishing that MBA one day. This could be a personal goal or something you’ve always thought you wanted to do. Ask yourself if getting that MBA will help you achieve your goal of a leadership position. You could spend a lot of time and money finishing a degree and be no closer to your final goal. Does the job you want require an MBA? Do others in similar positions have one? Don’t hold off on pursuing a leadership position because of an arbitrary criterion that you don’t really need. This is just an example. You could be in an industry where people are automatically promoted once they finish their MBA – in that situation it should be on your milestone list.
T = Time-Bound
Sometimes placing a time frame around our goal is the hardest part of this process. This can bring up our feelings of failure but know that even if you don’t achieve your goal in your set time period, you are still a heck of a lot closer than you would have been if you did nothing at all. A time-bound goal could be achieving that leadership position by the time you’re 45 for example. If you’re starting at 40, then you can plan backwards to map out what you’re going to do each year to bring you to your 5-year goal.
So now that we’ve defined the SMART process, let’s rewrite that leadership goal:
Secure a position leading a team of 100 people in the technology industry by my 45th birthday.
Once you’ve identified your goals, start working backward to set milestones for achieving them. For example, if you want to obtain an advanced degree or certification in five years, what will you do each year to get closer to that goal. You can even get so specific as to break down small steps on a daily basis.
Make Them Visible
Not only will writing down your goals help to hold you accountable, but visualization is another powerful tool. By displaying your goals front and center, you are more likely to achieve them. While it may seem a little parochial, creating a vision board can give you a daily reminder to pursue your goals. Women’s Health shared a great article on how to create a vision board here. I also like the Hay House Vision Board App to help you create vision boards. You can create a board for each of your goals, add images, and set your own affirmations, music, or voice memos to inspire yourself.
This is your year to get unstuck and achieve your goals! If you’re having trouble goal setting, I would love to help you. Starting the year off on the right foot will set you up for success.