Sneak an hour out of your busy schedule this side of Christmas to set your goals for 2019.
You’ll feel much more in control, says career coach Zena Everett, and ready for your break if you know you can hit the ground running when you return to work.
I don’t let my clients indulge in fussy, elaborate plans. They take far too much time to do and then languish in a file all year.
Try this short, punchy process instead. The four stages cover both practical and psychological aspects of goal achievement. It enables you to create an instant to-do list you can crack on with as soon as you are back in January, avoiding procrastination and distractions. It is a powerful team motivator too.
Step One: An Overall Vision
Start with a straight-forward one or two sentence statement which sums up what you want to achieve and why.
- Find five more clients, bringing in at least an extra €35,000 commission, which I will stick straight into my pension.
- Win three new international accounts, worth over €50,000 each, hitting Partnership status.
- Pass my exams and display management competencies so that I hire my first team member by September.
- Get one trustee appointment and one non-executive role so I can start my transition to a portfolio career in 2020.
- Successfully hire and integrate three more team members by June, then plan my time so I concentrate only on strategic projects and stay out of the weeds from then on.
Get rid of anything that holds you back – self-deprecation can go first. It’s just not cute or career enhancing.
Step Two: Visualise High-Performance
Imagine you have a meeting with the person who has successfully achieved your goal. They are a high achiever in the role/life you aspire to. You haven’t met them before. Write down everything you imagine about them:
- What impact do they make when they walk in the room and how do they achieve this?
- What do they look like, dress like, sound like?
- What skills, qualifications, experience do they have?
- How do they think? What do they aspire to? Expect from life?
- How would other people describe them?
- How do they describe themselves?
- What standards do they demand of themselves and other people?
- What’s their leadership style?
- What relationships, networks, support do they have?
- What do they excel at? What don’t they do?
- What’s their daily/weekly routine? Where do they focus their energy and attention?
- What have they eliminated from their life in order to achieve their success?
From now on look, act and behave AS IF you are a confident, top performer in this job role.
Step Three: Gap Analysis
Compare yourself now to this person you want to be in the future. From now on look, act and behave AS IF you are a confident, top performer in this job role. Your confidence and self-belief will catch up with your actions.
Where are the gaps? Get objective feedback if necessary; this is where you need an objective, challenging mentor or executive coach (ME, ME) to up the ante on your aspirations.
What do you need to dial up or dial down in 2019?
Get rid of anything that holds you back – self-deprecation can go first. It’s just not cute or career enhancing. Humility is fine but in order to get on, you need to do a visibly good job and articulate your contribution, not devalue it.
Clock your development areas and improve them if necessary BUT make sure you are pushing yourself at the main areas you are measured on, not the small stuff on page 3 of your job description.
Ring-fence the time in your diary now, so there’s no excuses.
Step Four: Write Your Action Plan
Convert the items in your gap analysis into sub-tasks: actions you can get on with as soon as you are back, to get immediate traction. Detail the steps, milestones, targets, metrics and dates.
Eg: ‘Be more confident’ should be converted into ‘speak at the February divisional meeting’.
Goals happen when they are:
- written down
Enlist someone to keep you accountable and ride out – or better still, relish – any wobbles. Ring-fence the time in your diary now, so there’s no excuses.
Finally, don’t be dull. Spending time unwinding boosts productivity so enjoy your holidays and down-time. Research conducted by Ernst & Young on its workers showed that yearly performance reviews went up by 8% for every ten hours spent on holiday.*
Find a better balance between work and the rest of your life and you will achieve greater energy, success and happiness than your frazzled, workaholic colleagues. Careers are a marathon, not a sprint. Build in some non-work goals to keep perspective.
* Research quoted in Cal Newport’s Deep Work, 2016.
About the Author
Zena Everett is one of the UK’s leading careers experts, coaching and training professionals from a wide range of companies including Shire Pharmaceuticals, Bausch and Lomb, Gazprom, HSBC, Citigroup, the Institute of Chartered Accountants and several international law firms.
She is an Executive Coach on Oxford University’s global Executive MBA programme as well as the author of two books: MindFlip: Reinvent your Future and Crazy Busy: How to Get More Done in a Day.