Act, don’t talk, to achieve goals

It is going to be a big year-but only if you want it to be. I hear people say, "I want to make a career change," or "I want to get ahead," or "I want to spend more time with my family." I suggest you stop talking and start acting.

Let this be the year you take steps to get what you want. Recently, I heard professional speaker, Richard Flint from West Palm Beach, Florida, say, "There is a big difference between focusing and staring at your goal." Many of us spend too much time glassy-eyed, wishing we had it instead of planning out how to get it. Here is a guide to help you get started.

·        What do you REALLY want? Write down exactly what you want in one sentence. This will be difficult for you if you've been too vague about your goal. For example, "I want a new job" is much different than "I want a new management job in the hospitality industry, in this city, for 10% more money than I'm making now."

·        How much do you really WANT it? To achieve a goal, you have to pay a price. Here's the rub. Most people simply won't pay it. They have excuses, procrastinate or are so unfocused they never get moving. This is the true test of your commitment. Weigh your circumstances against the goal and decide how much energy, money and time you are willing or able to commit. For example, if you find that you just can't seem to give up your tennis game or favorite television shows to begin networking, writing resumes and answering ads for a new job, perhaps you aren't being honest with yourself. In this case, it may be better to admit you aren't all that unhappy with your current situation and you can stop beating yourself up.

·        WHEN do you want it to happen? Setting an unrealistic deadline for yourself can be self-defeating. The deadline will pass and you'll feel as if you've failed. Instead, pull out a calendar and draw out a time line that illustrates when you will do key activities that will lead to your goal.

If you have trouble judging the end date, it helps to talk to others with experience or examine research about how long it will take to accomplish your goal. For example, new research from Polson & Co., a Minneapolis executive-search firm, reaffirms the old rule of thumb about how long it will take you to land a new job: one month for every $10,000 in annual compensation.

·        How REALISTIC is your goal? If you want to be an opera star yet haven't been asked to sing a solo in the church choir, you may be in fantasy land. A good reality test is to talk to people who have done what you want to do and ask them what the odds are for your success. If you only rely on your own judgement, you're likely to over- or under-estimate your chances. If the odds are slim and you still want to go for it, reexamine your answer to "Am I willing to pay the price?"

Before you charge off, ask yourself a final question:

·        "WHY?" Listen carefully to your own answer. Your reason should be inspiring and fit your values and your family’s values. If it doesn't, you will subconsciously sabotage yourself and so will those around you. For example, the answer, "Because I want to make more money," may fail to take into account that you place a high premium on your family time. If the job search (and new, demanding job) takes more time than you want to give it, you may be continually frustrated about the choices you have to make to achieve your goal.

Finally, it's not the merits of the goal itself that will determine your success. PERSISTENCE is the key. Remember: "Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go."

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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