Setting goals is crucial to attaining job success

Look around at the successful people you know. Chances are they may not be the most educated or even the smartest people you've ever met. But I'll bet they know how to set a goal and go after it.

How persistent and determined are you?

As you begin 1988, why not make a strong commitment to change one thing about your work life? Personal changes rarely are executed on a grand scale; rather, they come bit by bit. Little will improve without first deciding to do something about it - and then seeing it through.

Here are some ideas to get your new year off to a good start:

·        Arrive at all meetings on time. If you are running the meetings, start it on time - even if there are stragglers. Don't punish people who are prompt by making them wait.

·        Begin a work journal. Set aside time, on a regular basis, to write down informal political data. When you hit a snag or need some perspective on a problem, read your journal for some history. This is also very helpful to vent frustration safely.

·        Write down your top three goals: one for work, one for your family and one for your personal enjoyment. The act of writing down a goal requires thought about your personal values. Because your values tend to change over time, you may be surprised to see what your list looks like. Discuss your goals with the people who are a part of them.

·        Polish your image. If your wardrobe is neglected, spruce it up with new pieces or tailoring. Toss out old clothes that look worn or are past their prime. Consider hiring a consultant if you don't know where to start.

·        Begin an accomplishment file. As you receive little notes or letters of praise, toss them in your file. This can be handy at performance review time and will be a lifesaver if you need to put a resume together. It's also a good way to check the progress of your career. If the file looks the same year after year, perhaps it's time to move on.

·        Try to beat your assigned deadlines. If your projects arrive on your boss' desk early, you will bring his or her anxiety level down. You will be seen as reliable and motivated. You will have more time for last-minute changes and, as a result, avoid many crises.

·        Express your opinions in meetings you attend. Holding back can weaken your career and lead to poor decisions. When you state your opinion, don't trample the feelings or ideas of others.

·        Stop complaining. If you have a gripe, come up with a workable solution. Investigate your solution, work out the bugs, and then take responsibility for doing your part to fix the problem.

·        Improve your writing skills. Write short memos and letters that tell the reader, within the first few lines, exactly what you want from him or her. Skip the chronological background leading up to your request. Usually, nobody cares.

·        Ask more questions. It's easy to assume we know exactly what people want and need. It's also easy to say, "We've tried that before and it didn't work." If you've been in your job for awhile, it's likely you assume entirely too much. Asking questions is a great way to avoid becoming a closed thinker who believes he or she knows it all.

·        Set a goal for returning phone calls. If you are very busy, shoot for a 24-hour goal. Set aside a time to return all calls in a "batch" whenever possible, so your time isn't fragmented during the day. When you call others, leave a message about when you'll be available for their return call.

·        Improve your relationship with your boss and your peers. Treat people with dignity and empathy. Practice listening more, praising more, and sharing more. If there is someone you don't like, resolve to communicate with the person face-to-face more often than by memo.

·        If you've decided to improve something in 1988, you're halfway there. To accomplish it, you may need a reminder to keep your determination strong throughout the year. Consider writing notes to yourself in your calendar at the appropriate intervals. Perhaps you could write it on a bookmark you use often.

·        Some people clip note-card reminders to their calendar, tablet or clipboard. Some tape a note to their phone. Whatever you decide to do, stay determined and persistent!


Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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