GOAL-SETTING SKILLS – How To Advance Your Career In Life

Do you ever get so busy with “life” that you neglect investing in yourself and the dream future you really want to create? If your answer is “yes”, then you are in some very good company. Most people are too busy being busy – at work and home, so they neglect the very goals that could lead them to their dreams. And, one way or another, it ends up costing you, your family and your organization. This Valentines Day, be your own valentine by showing yourself some real love – start investing in goals that will make your dreams a reality! Studies show that by the second week of February, most people give up on their New Years goals. After Valentines, a mere 8% of people stay committed to their resolutions and go on to make them a reality. How ironic that on the day of love, we can fail to love ourselves. What are the secrets of those who do invest in themselves and their dreams? How can you become one of the 8 percenters?

“Lose The Wait” On Your Dreams

Improving yourself by going after meaningful career and life goals is an investment that pays off for you and everyone around you. I admit that some years I have gotten too caught up in “busyness” and skipped out on planning serious resolutions, but that changed this year. I did not even wait for January; I mapped out solid goals in October and I am well on my way to learning new and exciting skills that I had previously pushed to the back burner. Oh, and I have also dropped thirty pounds along the way. Five friends and coworkers have been so inspired that they asked me to help them reach their goals. So far, they have collectively lost a total of 88 pounds in 2018. (Counting mine, that is 118 pounds, or the equivalent of one Kentucky Derby jockey!) So, how can you “lose the wait” with career and life goals that can create your dream future? How can you learn to be your own personal life coach and make your dreams come true? Here are some “edge skills” you can use to reboot your professional and life goals – starting now!

“A goal properly set… is halfway reached.”

– Zig Ziglar

Cracking The “New Habit” Code

Effective goal setting requires that you create new habits, and this is where so many people set themselves up for failure. It is like having a new puppy in the house. To help the animal succeed, you must teach it daily habits – when to eat, how to go outside to do its business, how to walk on a leash, how to obey simple commands, etc. Just as you would train a new puppy, you have to teach your brain new commands and habits. This can be an awkward and tedious stage of learning, but is it the foundation of real change that leads to major career and life rewards.

Believing In Your Goals – And Yourself!

The word “habit” alone does not sound very exciting, and we humans tend to get very comfortable with set patterns and habits. But, reaching career and life goals requires that you to drop old habits and form new ones. When we provide leadership coaching or communication team skills, people often need help transforming their new skills and behaviors into daily habits. First, you have to believe that the new habit is worthwhile – and that you are also worthwhile. Everything starts with your beliefs or buy-in! If you do not even feel worthy of achieving your goal, then you most likely will not succeed in forming new habits required to make it happen.

Changing Your “Self-Talk”

How you talk to yourself is an important part of forming new habits and behavior. For example, if you tell a friend, “Don’t think about a purple elephant”, his brain now has to think about a purple elephant. You are directing his attention to the very thing you want him to avoid! Instead, use a positive command to direct his attention where you really want it to go, such as, “I would like for you to think about the green elephant for a minute.” As you focus on goals, use language that moves you toward what you want to achieve! One of our executive coaches provided another great example of this when she attended a BMW driving school. One of the school’s success principles is, “Focus on where you want the car to go – instead of focusing on the orange cones that you don’t want to hit.” To form new habits, change your self-talk and thinking to support the creation of new possibilities. In other words, build a new road, instead of focusing on avoiding or dodging the potholes in the old road you’ve been traveling.

“To form new habits, change your self-talk and thinking.”

Tap Into How You Are “Naturally Motivated”

You are always leading yourself and others around you – toward or away from goals. Motivation is the key that unlocks your true potential! Things become easier when you tap into how you are naturally motivated. You have unique drivers that motivate or de-motivate you on a daily basis. They are like your very own combination lock to your brain. Although out of your conscious awareness, these drivers influence whether you procrastinate, or get things done on your daily “action list”. I am enjoying great success with my new fitness goals this year because the nutritional program I chose matches some of my core motivation drivers. I reviewed the results of the motivation assessment that we use during our leadership coaching sessions and team communication training; I score very high on four things: information, structure, consistency and alternatives. My nutritional program fits all four patterns: First, the information makes complete sense to me, and it changed how I think about fuel for my body. (Therefore, it changed my beliefs!) Now, when I walk into a grocery store, I find only about ten percent of the food choices appealing. I literally see the grocery store in a new way! Changing your beliefs / thinking is crucial to changing your behavior and creating new life or work habits. The nutrition program also matches my motivation preferences for structure and consistency – yet it has enough alternatives built in that I do not become bored and lose interest. When you match your goals with your natural motivation drivers, your chances of success greatly increase!

The Magic of Handwritten Goals

You can build a house without a plan, but you may not end up with a livable structure – and the same is true with goals. Good goals start with good plans. I have always believed there is something magical about handwritten notes and that is why I keep a notebook of daily and yearly action lists. During leadership skills coaching and communication skills training sessions over the years, we have noticed a direct correlation between leaders and associates who take notes and their success rate – versus those who keystroke notes into their tablets or laptops, or take no notes at all. So, I was not surprised to read a study published in Psychological Science that concludes that handwritten notes are far better for retaining conceptual information, as opposed to typing. Writing is glue to the memory! It helps you process more, which improves retention. Writing out your goals is like gluing them to your brain, so you increase the “stickiness” of your goals.

A remarkable Harvard study also points out the importance of having a plan for your goals. The MBA study focused on graduate students. Some of them committed to goals and others did not. Three percent of the students had written goals with plans to accomplish them. Another thirteen percent had goals in their minds, but did not write them down. Eighty-four percent of the students had no goals or plans. Ten years later, Harvard found the three percent of students with written goals and plans earned ten times as much as the rest of the class combined! Those who plan to succeed – succeed with a plan!

Will You Be “Your” Valentine?

So, this Valentines Day, be your own valentine by showing yourself some real love! Invest in your well-being by committing to achieving worthwhile career and life goals – and reap the rewards at work and at home!


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If you want to change your career and life for the better, learn more about how you and your team can excel with effective goal planning, leadership skills and effective communication skills. Check out Benchmark Communications’ offerings. We offer a range of leadership communication coaching and team communication skills to help you to be your very best. Our firm’s work has been honored by many prestigious organizations, including the International Association of Business Communicators, the Associated Press, the Public Relations Society of America and others.”