How to Set and Reach Professional Goals.
When Chris Johnson and Tim Keck were just juniors in college they put their passion for humor and writing to work for them by creating a small satire magazine to distribute for free around their campus. What began in a dorm room became what we now know as The Onion—a wildly successful spoof news source.
What Johnson and Keck realized is that reaching professional goals is about harnessing existing passion, then letting it move you forward in reasonable increments at the right pace. If you’ve got an itch to professionalize or an idea for a start-up, you can begin setting those goals today. "SMART” goals, or goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, are one straightforward strategy you can implement to move toward passionate success at any stage of your career.
Set Specific Goals
The more specific your goal, the easier it will be to execute. It’s helpful to start by answering the simple questions, or “The 5 W’s.”
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources and/or limits are involved?
Asking and answering these questions of yourself gives you the opportunity to organize, plan, and prepare. But more than that, they help you flesh out your ideas. When you come to the drawing board with a fuller picture in mind, you’ll have better ability to think of the many ways to reach that goal.
Set Measurable Goals
When you’re parsing through the 5 W’s you’ll likely be thinking of the many smaller goals that you’ll need to achieve on your path to your greater vision. As you consider these, give yourself concrete factors by which to measure whether these micro-goals have truly been completed.
For example, if you need to build an audience for a product as part of your plan, give yourself solid data to reach and later interpret, like that you want to reach 100 followers in one month. Then set your sights on actionable ways you can do that, and make sure you understand how it will help you along the greater road to success.
Set Achievable Goals
Achievability is something that must be considered alongside your measures of success. If you want to reach that audience of 100 in one month but you’re also busy securing investors and writing your business plan, your marketing might fall by the wayside. Be reasonable with yourself and don’t set goals that you can’t reach in a timely manner or even at all. Trying otherwise sets you up for disappointment, and can stall or even collapse your project. Plus, that’s a drain on your passion.
Set Relevant Goals
Relevance is crucial. This should play a role in all your decisions but especially when initially developing a concept. Ask yourself if your idea is worthwhile and occurring at the right time. Have others already implemented your goal? Are you the best person for this job? Relevance also means considering the current socio-economic climate. If your goal does not align with the political temperatures of the people you’re trying to reach, it won’t be successful. For example, millennials are well known for their high standard of ethics. So if you’re opening a business that has unethical elements, like how Uber tracked users long after their rides ended by using their cellphone data, it’s unlikely to be successful. After taking a sharp dip in sales, Uber had to revise its strategies and has now agreed to no longer track riders. While Uber may have recovered its sales from the #deleteUber campaign, it’s now growing much more slowly than its rival Lyft in the wake of this scandal.
Set Time Bound Goals
Lastly, ensure that each of your goals has a time limit to it. Setting dates for the execution of your goals keeps you accountable. It’s also a great way to ensure your goals and micro goals are measurable. If something can’t be completed in a timely manner, maybe it needs to be reevaluated.
While not everyone is going to be the next founder of The Onion or Facebook, it’s still important to be setting and reaching professional goals. Whether you’re studying business or art, there are always ways you can grow your professionalism. Maybe it’s hosting a fundraiser or organizing your first art show. Whatever you choose to do, ensure that you’re working to map steps that are possible and relevant, then get to work.