by Wendie Blair
What’s the one activity you can do to assist with anything you’re trying to accomplish? Whether you’re trying to develop personally or professionally, start a business, buy a house, return to school, plan your day, etc., this one thing is sure to be a beneficial aid.
If you guessed ‘goal setting’ you’re right!
Setting goals is a necessary component of success. Believe or not, there isn’t one single thing we do that isn’t associated with a goal. Our dominant thought, during any given action, takes priority so we don’t always recognize the goals we’re targeting and/or achieving. This stems from habitual behaviors creating a subconscious autopilot.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. Shoes! Putting on shoes is something you’ve most likely done over and over and over again. It is now second nature to you and doesn’t require concentration or focus. However, there is still a goal. The general goal is to utilize a suitable resource to cover and/or protect your feet. The actions of finding this resource, procuring it, and successfully utilizing it is an achieved goal - though it is most common for it to only be regarded as an achievement when the skill was first learned. Because of this, putting on shoes is not a goal consciously set. Instead, while you were putting on your shoes your conscious thought was geared toward the bigger reason of why you were putting them on. It may be to warm your feet, to get to work, to go jogging, etc. but it was not likely on the smaller goal of successfully putting on shoes.
Now, let’s back up a little. Putting on shoes wasn’t always such a simple task that required no direct thought. When you were a young child, learning this skill, it was more of a task. You had to learn how to properly get your foot inside of the shoe. You had to learn what shoe goes on what foot (right/left). You had to learn how to tie your shoelaces properly so they would hold. You had to learn the role the size of the shoe played. These were four separate smaller goals that aided in the achievement of one bigger goal, putting on your shoes.
Professional development is the same as learning to put on your shoes. To be successful you must have and set goals. Professional development in general, while a great goal, is not a specific enough goal. It is a pathway goal, a tool, a resource – just like shoes. Where do you want to go professionally (I.e. business owner, corporate America, manager, etc.)? How can you get there (I.e. work, college, networking, professional development, etc.)? What smaller steps are needed to reach your bigger goal (I.e. save money, experience, professional development, etc.)? What is your timeline (I.e. certain age, certain year, etc.)? These are some of the basic questions you need to answer in order to put together an action plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be – ergo goal setting.
Try not to get so caught up in the bigger goal that you’re dismissive of the necessary smaller goals. Afterall, had you not learned the four separate smaller goals to successfully put on your shoes, you would still not know how.