how you want your future to look, sit down in a quiet place with minimal distractions. Write down the things of professional and personal value that you’ve gathered from the first exercise, and list them in order of importance. You now have the foundation for every goal you’ll ever set.
“It also helps to think of this process in terms of a clock pendulum,” says Jones. “To help keep correct time, it must swing to the right before it can swing to the left and vice versa. Likewise, for a goal to become reality, you have to know what you want before you can attempt to act.”
STEP 2: Set long-range goals. Myra Panache’s childhood dream was colorful-and not much bigger than 11-by-17 inches. “I’ve always wanted to have my own magazine,” says the 32-year-old founder and editor-in-chief of Pop Life, a San Francisco-based quarterly entertainment publication. “Expression through writing has long been a passion of mine, and I couldn’t think of a better way to get my ideas out to others.” But as Panache had no journalism or publishing experience under her belt, her goal was lofty indeed.
In this stage, it’s OK if your objectives are large-scale projects. “However, they should still be ‘SMART’: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and timely,” says Smith, who suggests the following:
- Specific: Make sure you state exactly what will be accomplished. Try, for example, “I will land a promotion to senior sales manager or change careers from public relations to law,” instead of “I will have a more fulfilling professional life.”
- Measurable: Set a definitive time or date when your goals will be completed. For instance, “I will have completed a course on career management by this spring.”
- Action-oriented: Focus on action (“I will not raise my voice in meetings”), rather than qualities (“I will be a kinder team leader”).
- Realistic: Allow for personal and professional constraints in accomplishing your goals. For example, “I will make $1 million this year” is less realistic for most of us than “I will learn about mutual funds and invest my first $1,000.”
- Timely: Allow yourself a reasonable amount of time to complete a goal. For example, giving yourself 40 years to earn a law degree is too long, while one year isn’t enough.
- In early 1995, Panache reached into her past as a former entertainment agent to develop a general content format and set a launch date for the end of the year. “I also sought support from friends and other entrepreneurs who could help me along in the start-up process,” she recalls.
Passoff believes a “cheering section” can actually help you reach your goal more quickly. “Those people can help you stay true to your mission, as well as provide an outsider’s perspective when necessary,” she says. Keep in mind, however, that you should only share your plans with those you trust. This will help protect against any negative people who may directly or indirectly try to thwart your efforts.
“An unrecorded goal is merely a wish,” says Smith, who recommends solidifying your goals by