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Steps toward Setting and Reaching More Effective Goals
May 29th, 2012 by Robert Moskowitz  Posted in Career Advice

Steps toward Setting and Reaching More Effective GoalsThis is probably not the first article you’ve read about setting goals. To set goals is a standard piece of advice, and there are lots of ideas floating around about which goals to set, how to set them, and how to reach them.

In this piece, I’m going to try to give you information you haven’t previously encountered about goals. For example:

Before You Ever Set A Goal, Find The Answers To These Questions

As Yoga Berra famously said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll wind up someplace else.” That’s why it’s important you set a favorable and desirable direction before you ever set a goal. Your direction depends on the answers to these important questions:

On your deathbed, what accomplishments would make you the happiest? The proudest?

What are the stepping stones to those accomplishments?

Give your primary strengths and weaknesses, can you realistically hope to complete your “death bed” accomplishments?

If not, what knowledge and skills must you accumulate to improve your chances of completing those accomplishments?

Only after you use these questions to help identify your longest-term, deepest-seated interests and yearnings, and a realistic route toward achieving them, should you begin to establish practical, concrete goals to strive for.

Set Your Goals In Clusters

Most people make the mistake of setting stand-alone goals, such as “I want to write a symphony.” That’s a laudable goal, but very difficult to achieve because it’s actually the culmination of many smaller goals: learning to write music, studying various symphonies and composers, completing some shorter musical works, and finally writing all the various elements of a full symphony.

It’s much smarter and more effective to break down the goal of writing a symphony - or most anything else - into a cluster of goals that lead naturally from what you’re capable of now to where you’d like to be in the future and what you’d like to accomplish.

Set A Reverse Timeline

Saying you’d like to write a symphony is one thing, and giving yourself a deadline to accomplish that goal is even better. But the most effective and realistic way to accomplish your “death bed” goals is to link all the items in your cluster of goals to a reverse timeline.

For example, if you want to finish your symphony in five years, you might allow yourself two months to write each of the four movements your symphony will contain. That will require you to complete all your preparations eight months before you wish to complete your symphony.

If your preparations will include completing some shorter musical works, you might want to allocate a year or even two for that work.

If you also plan to study various symphonies and composers before you begin to write your own music in earnest, you’ll probably need to spend spend two or more years just in that endeavor.

If you must also learn the mechanics of writing music, you’ll need another year or longer to become proficient enough to contemplate writing something as complex as a symphony.

All this creates a reverse timeline that requires you to start learning to write music at least a year before you begin studying various symphonies and composers, which you must start to do at least two or more years before you set out to complete some shorter musical works, which you will have to start at least a year or two before you can first sit down to compose the elements of your symphony.

This kind of reverse timeline covering your clusters of goals helps bring your larger “death bed” goals into perspective, which helps you avoid procrastination to the point where you’ve no time left in which to accomplish what you really want.
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Tags: advice, career-advice, career-growth, goals
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