Become a Goal Setter

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Most successful people don’t succeed because they have the intellect of Einstein, the communication skills of Churchill or the creativity of DeBussy but rather because they form goals and stick to them. Although those other qualities certainly don’t hurt, achievement begins and ends with a vision, one that looks at what could be and then acts to fulfill it.


For IT pros, goal-setting should be a part of their mindset as they evaluate their career, whether it’s related to starting their own business, moving up in the ranks of their organization or attempting a credential. Once they figure out what their objectives are, they can focus their energies instead of scattering them in the wind. This is a motivating force, as the benefits of such concentrated efforts become immediately apparent.


Here are a few suggestions for you as you plot your career path through goal-setting.


Form a Budget for Time and Money


As you plot your progress toward the goal, you should determine exactly how much in the way of resources you’ll have to devote to it. Significant achievements usually cost a lot of time or money — and possibly both. To make sure the two are maximized, it’s important to formulate budgets for both. Most of you are probably already familiar with financial planning, but many might not be as experienced with budgeting time.


At the outset, you should try to establish where your time goes now. (You can find a good tool for that here.) Figure out how much availability you already have, then see if you can cut back in some areas (entertainment, work, etc.) to free up time for your goal. Once you’ve done that, you should weigh that amount against the number of hours per day, week or month that you’ll need to pursue your objective.


Also, don’t be surprised if you initially find you’ve underestimated the cost in terms of time or money. Be sure to adjust accordingly.


Spell It Out


When forming a goal, be sure to write it down and make sure the description is clear. For example, instead of saying you’d like to earn a credential sometime this year, vow to get one that covers a certain area of technology and assesses a particular level of comprehension and experience. Resolve to accomplish this by a certain date. A clearly described goal has much more weight and meaning than a poorly conceived one.


As you consider your precise target, avoid setting it either too high or low. Find an accomplishment that aligns to your means and abilities. And learn from your goal-setting experiences — if you achieve it too easily, set the bar higher next time. Conversely, if you fall short, figure out what went wrong and evaluate your successive objectives more closely.


After getting the goal in writing, be sure to put it in a very visible place (possibly places) where you’ll see it every day to continually remind yourself of exactly what you’re working toward.


Attitude is Everything


Finally, you should be in the right frame of mind as you fashion and follow this goal. This means staying focused on all the vital tasks, as well as constantly assessing the objective and your advancement toward it. Further, in the words of Satchmo, be sure to “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.” Expect challenges but never let the difficulties get you down.

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