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Making your goals short-term boosts likelihood of success

Wed, 01/29/2014 - 5:32am | by Helen Hoart

I remember when I was younger I promised myself I was going to learn to speak Spanish by the time I was 30.  I made this promise when I was in my mid-twenties.  Guess what, by the time I hit 30, I still hadn’t learned Spanish, even though being able to speak Spanish was very important to me. 

Obviously having a goal so far in the future enabled me to put off learning Spanish. And the sad final result was that I continued to put off my goal and by the time I hit 29-1/2 I realized I wasn’t going to become fluent in Spanish in six months. I learned my lesson and set a new goal: begin a Spanish class taught by a neighbor that was starting the following month.

Make Your Goals Specific

The second problem with my “learn to speak Spanish” goal was it was too broad, too grand.  Learning to be a fluent Spanish speaker is aspirational.  And aspiring to things is good.  But to reach my aspiration I had to break it down into achievable, short-term goals and objectives.

The same thing can happen with business goals.  Quite frequently during performance reviews a boss will give her employee a year-long goal. And often these performance review goals are broad.  A goal that doesn’t have to be completed until a year from now will frequently evaporate into air.  The reason: we think we have time and don’t jump on accomplishing our goal immediately.  Maybe a month before it’s due, we may scramble and get it done but not as thoroughly or completely as if we had devoted our efforts to it for the year.

Make Your Goals Short-Term

A better strategy is to set goals that are much shorter term.  Even if your boss gives you a year to reach a goal, break it into pieces and set monthly goals. That’s how goals become a reality because if we only have 30 days to accomplish something, we have to get cracking IMMEDIATELY.





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