4 steps to achieve long term goals

The hard part

Long term goals are hard to achieve for 2 main reasons where our human nature betrays us.

1. At any moment, when we feel something is important, we want to do it right now. But you can’t accomplish a long term goal in a day.

2. It’s almost impossible to accomplish long term goals without some checkpoints and measures along the way. And checkpoints and measures are not a natural way of living. It’s an additional effort that many people don’t believe they have time for and are not practiced at. So it’s hard.

Your Career Year of Action

In this month’s webinar we talked about long term career goals. We used my Career Year of Action Guide as the basis for the conversation.

Download the Webinar Podcast Here

In the Career Year of Action Guide I have quantified how you can make progress on different aspects of your career over a one year period. The guide also helps maintain your motivation and focus by creating monthly measures and checkpoints for yourself.

Get the Career Year of Action Guide Here

Your Desired Outcome

It all starts with your desired outcome. Step back. Pause. Think.

What do you want all this work to amount to? What is the ultimate job you want? If you don’t have a specific goal, think about what your desired job would be like. Start to define what you want in your work and life long term.

Having a desired outcome defined gives you an abiity to ask yourself at any point in time, is what I am doing now helping me get to, or taking me away from my goal?

The hard part – the Middle

All strategic, long term goals share this problem, whether they are individual, personal goals or a strategic business initiatives.

Human nature gets us very excited about defining the problem up front, and then describing the end goal a year out.

But what happens in the middle? How do you specifically, get there?

When I work with teams or individuals to define that hard part in the middle, this is where the magic happens.

By defining concrete, intermediate, outcomes and measures to support your long term goal – things that you can achieve each month or quarter – you are way more likely to get there.

In the webinar, we talked about how to do this for your career and gave some examples.

4 areas of effort to think about

The Career Year of Action Guide is sorted into the following 4 categories to ensure that you make progress in your career, not just work yourself to death.

Test yourself. In a given month, how much do you think about the ideas covered in these 4 areas of effort? Careers get stuck when you let a year (or more) go by and only focus on the work.

1. Business Leadership & Strategy:
How to make sure your work delivers enough business impact and you are not just being busy. Topics are: Ruthless Priorities, Team Assessment, Delegation, Performance Management, Tuning your Job to have more impact

2. Career Development:
How to manage your workload so that your work is serving your career as well as your business. It covers topics like high-impact annual objectives, building on strengths, creating value specifically for your boss, and using mentors.

3. Personal Strategies:
How to incease your personal effectiveness and use your time better. This category covers things like Making Room, Managing Time & Energy, Building Trust, and Personal Brand

4. Steady Effort Communications:
How to build work habits to make sure you are not invisible and that you regularly share information. It includes topics like Stakeholders, Team Communications, and Networking

4 Specific Ideas

Because we couldn’t cover the whole Career Year of Action Guide in the webinar, we discussed one key idea in each category.

1. Ruthless Priorities

Business Leadership and Strategy: Decide what the business values and map your work to that. Create your annual objectives to make sure you are doing things that create real business value. We talked about how to negotiate specific, concrete outcomes and measures with your boss. Do not put your ruthless priorities at risk. Get them done. Develop a reputation for finishing important things. Set monthly and quartly goals for yourself to ensure progress.

2. Make Time and Energy

Personal Effectiveness: Remember, your job is to do your job AND keep yourself OK. If you lack energy you will not be good at your job. Think about what renews and give you energy and schedule time to make sure you are building and maintaining your energy. You need to think strategically, be creative, and overcome challenges. You can’t do that if you are burned out.

3. Mentors

Career Development: Do an assessment of your mentors. Add one this year. Think about your desired outcome. Figure out what type of person can help you, and start looking for them. Ask your boss, ask your neighbors, ask you accountant. We talked about how to find people who can help you, how to meet them, and how to create mentoring relationships.

4. Stakeholders

Steady Effort Communications: Remember, invisible doesn’t work. Know who your stakeholders are, and communicate with them regularly. Know who can influence your plans, resources, projects and compensation plan. Know all their names and make sure they know yours. Know what they care about and communicate with them, on purpose, in a way that is useful and relevant to them.

Your Stories

One other key thought we covered is to record your best stories so you remember them later.

At a minimum, update your resume each year. But when you accomplish things that you are proud of, or that others think are great, make a note of them. You will forget otherwise. And these stories are a powerful tool as you meet people, interview, or negotiate things moving forward in your career.

We also talked about how to proactively create headlines for the coming year as a motivator to make them come true.

Your next year

What do you want to be different this time next year? What are one or two goals that you want to commit to take action on this year? Decide, write it down, and create monthly or quarterly measures for yourself. Find a partner or a coach. Good Luck!

Want more?

Download the webinar podcast here

Get the Career Year of Action Guide Here

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About Patty
Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, and follow her on Facebook and  twitter.

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Be Visible, but not Annoying
Something worth noting