Goal Setting Definition and Examples
Strategies for Successful Goal Setting
Goal setting is the process of deciding what you want to accomplish and devising a plan to achieve the result you desire. For entrepreneurs, goal setting is an important part of business planning.
This goal setting definition emphasizes that goal setting is a three part process. For effective goal setting, you need to do more than just decide what you want to do; you also have to work at accomplishing whatever goal you have set for yourself - which means you have to create a plan so your work gets you where you want to go.
For many people, it's the third part of the goal setting definition that's problematic. They know what they want to do and they're perfectly willing to work on it but they have trouble creating a plan to get there.
The undirected effort might help you accomplish what you want to do if by some fluke you do the right thing at the right time. Usually, it doesn't. And then, because you're not getting any results, you quit working at whatever it is and give up on whatever goal you've set.
So for successful goal setting, the first thing you have to do is close the gap between the end result you want and where you are now with a plan.
What's the Difference Between a Personal Goal and a Business Goal?
Business goals and personal goals have different purposes (business goals aim to improve your business rather than some aspect of your personal life) but there's no difference in the goal setting process.
The same goal setting formula and strategies that works for business goals will also work for personal goals - with the one difference that applying the strategies that are often used to set business goals will give you greater success with achieving personal goals than is often the case.
Business goals are typically set on an annual basis and should be aligned with your long term goals.
For example, if your five-year plan is to increase sales by 100% then at the beginning of each year you might set a goal to increase your sales by 20% for the current year. Your goals should be worked into your business plan and (in this case) your sales forecasts.
Throughout the year, you might have weekly, monthly, or quarterly sessions where you review your progress towards the annual goal. Writing down the results is essential for staying on track when you're working towards achieving a goal.
At the end of each day, you should review what you have accomplished for the day and think about what you would like to achieve on the following day. Preparing a to-do list for the next day each night is an excellent practice that will help keep you on track.
Whether you prefer to do it at night or in the morning, Daily Planning is a highly recommended way to increase your business success. Regularly reviewing your progress towards achieving your goals and your goals themselves keeps you focused and motivated.
Strategies for Goal Setting Success
The easiest way to set yourself up for goal setting success is to use a formula for setting goals that incorporates a strategy for accomplishing the goal.
(See Goal Setting: The First Step to Achievement for details.)
Another way of ensuring that you have a good shot at actually accomplishing the goals you set is to make sure that the goals you set follow the SMART acronym and are:
- Specific - For example, I want to increase my business revenue by 30% this year.
- Measurable - "Increasing sales" or "reducing debt" are measurable goals, "working harder" or "increasing my personal satisfaction" are vague and difficult to measure. Putting your goals in writing helps to keep you focused and see how much progress you've made towards your goals at the end of the defined time period.
- Attainable - A goal should be challenging but attainable. If your business is a lumber yard, overtaking Home Depot in sales is not a reasonable goal!
- Relevant - Goals should be aligned with your long term plans. If your long term plan is for your business to attain $200,000 a year in sales your short-term goals should directly relate to achieving this.
- Time-Bound - Without a specific time frame for your goals they can't be properly measured. A goal should contain a time limit (e.g. "by the end of the year I want to increase sales by 20%").
I hate to wreck a good acronym, but I think it's important to add an 'E' for engaging when goal setting. If a goal isn't engaging to a person, they're not going to have enough internal motivation to work to accomplish it.
Examples: Once Craig learned how to set specific goals, he found his goal setting efforts a lot more successful as he actually accomplished what he set out to do.
10 Goal Setting Tips for Setting Goals You Will Achieve
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How to Write a Vision Statement
There is a common misconception that we want to clear up: that an acceptance letter to a top-tier business school is all about what you’ve achieved so far.
An acceptance letter to a top tier MBA program is not a blue ribbon for past achievements. While it’s certainly true that admissions committees want to know what you’ve accomplished thus far, it’s because they are trying to assess your future promise – your potential.
You must convince the admissions committee that you are just getting started and that you will achieve even greater things in the future!
One of the primary ways is to get the admissions board excited about your future plans – and you can do that with your career goals essay.
One question appears in some form in just about every application:
“What are your short-term and long-term career goals and how will our program prepare you to achieve those goals?”
Is the admissions committee really all that interested in what job you hope to get when you graduate? Do they want to read 10,000 essays about each candidate’s rung-by-rung plan for climbing the corporate ladder? Not really.
If not, then why do they ask the career goals question?
They ask the question because they want to be convinced that you have outstanding “potential.” There’s that word again. At MBA Prep School, we define “potential” as a collection of capabilities fueled by passion and directed by purpose toward a defined set of career goals. It follows that an A+ career goals essay must express your career purpose, career goals, and career action plan.
Your past achievements are evidence that you have the capabilities (i.e., skills, talents, and experiences) necessary to achieve your aspirations. Many candidates undermine their chances for admission by proposing a set of lofty career goals that don’t appear realistic when viewed in the context of their past experiences and strengths. Grand ambitions are fine but you can hurt your chances for an acceptance letter if you are unable to convince admissions officers that the dots connect from your past accomplishments to your future aims.
Defining your career goals is a central step in formulating your application strategy because a powerful career goals essay will tell the admissions officers how you plan to become a leader of consequence once you graduate. The coherence of your career goals essay will serve as an elegant proof of your potential. Your career goals, if properly developed and defined, will set you apart from other candidates competing for a spot at that school and that’s exactly what you want them to do.
To help you meet this challenge, we’ve created a simple rubric that you can use to predict how your career goals essay might be “graded” by the admissions committee. By grading your essay drafts on your own, you will be able to determine how to improve upon the quality of your essay.
|A+||Your career goals address a significant problem that you have the capabilities to solve, in a field that you are passionately interested, the career goals are personally meaningful, and the results are socially beneficial.|
|A||Your career goals address a significant problem that you have the capabilities to solve, in a field that you are passionately interested, the career goals are personally meaningful|
|B||Your career goals are aligned with some of your capabilities in a field that interests you.|
|C||Your career goals are aligned with some of your capabilities|
|F||Your career goals are unclear or misaligned with your capabilities and lack significance, passion, meaning, and social benefit.|
Let me be clear that writing a career goals essay that scores in the top 2% is not easy. The difference between an A an A+ is that the career path you are dedicated to will benefit others in a significant way. We are not suggesting that you need to write about starting a non-profit organization to get into business school. The world needs investment bankers, consultants, entrepreneurs, and corporate CEOs too, and business schools still have room in their classrooms for candidates with these kinds of ambitions. If it’s hard to make a case on social benefit, you just need to work that much harder to convey your passion for your career path and explain why your career goals are meaningful to you.
Nothing we’ve said here should imply that we are recommending that you manufacture an answer that is simply meant to hit the admissions committees’ hot-buttons. Remember that admissions officers read thousands of these essays and so they can tell the difference between aspirations that have integrity and those that are simply engineered for effect.
Creating an A+ answer to the career goals question will require hard work and soul searching on your part but can be very exciting once completed. You will have a coherent, logically structured set of career goals aligned with your abilities, deeper motivations, and sense of purpose. In essence, you will have a roadmap to guide your career journey from MBA school onwards.