Goal Setting for Personal and Professional Development

I just love the week of Thanksgiving. Having those few days off to be with family and friends puts me in a reflective mode that I find perfect for formalizing my 2011 goals. I say "formalizing" because I'm constantly working on my goals, scheduling speaking gigs and clients, and doing marketing. That's just normal business-- planning 6-12 months out regardless of what year the calendar says it is.

I've been setting goals since I was a kid. (Yeah, I was "one of those" kids!) But recently, I've been getting more questions about how to set goals. So I decided to dedicate some of this month's blog posts to sharing what I've learned about goal setting.

Warning: Very little of what I'll share is original. What I've learned really is a product of the books I've read and the people I've learned from.

For me, goals are not just about achievement. I believe a good goal setting program is really about increasing the quality of your life. So, it’s important to have a wide-view in setting your goals.

Rather than simply focusing on setting your professional goals, include personal goals, family goals, social goals--all the goals that will make the next year amazing for you. The best way I’ve found to do that, is by listing out 100 things you want to do next year. Goals, dreams, fantasies, goofiness. Get it all onto a list.

Your 100 Goals & Dreams

Why 100? The first 10 or so are relatively easy. But 11 to 30 are hard. Doing 100 makes you dig deep. After you push through this first hard spot, you’ll find yourself start including goofy ideas on the list. Go for it.

Treat this list like a brainstorm: don’t qualify what you put down. Telling yourself an idea is dumb will completely shut down your creativity.

In the MagnetGoals Workbook, I have a worksheet to help with this. It can also be useful to think of listing goals for various areas of your life including:

  • Health
  • Money
  • Life-long Learning
  • Travel
  • Relationships

The first time you do this, it might be easier to do a list of 100 things to do in your life (ie. before you die). But doing it each year is incredibly beneficial too.

Also, if you’ve done this in the before, don’t worry about repeating items from the past. I seem to always have things like “Appear on Oprah” in my list. Just write it down and get 100 lines filled.

Let the list of goals sit

Getting the 100 lines filled is tough. Now put the list away for a couple days. I'm convinced that if you did nothing else but write down your goals and put them in a drawer, you'd be amazed at how much you'd accomplish. I think Maxwell Maltz has a point when he says we have "a built-in goal-seeking mechanism" built into each of us (in his Psycho-Cybernetics [amazon affiliate link]).

Don't worry, you'll do more with this list. But for the next few days, take a break.

Write a history from the future

Now review the list, reading every goal, dream, and goofy idea. Then take a clean sheet of paper and write a "history from the future." Project yourself forward 12 months and write a journal entry as though you'd accomplished everything on the list. Answer questions like:

  • How would you feel with all those goals accomplished?
  • What would the people in your life say?
  • What awards would you have won?
  • How are your interpersonal relationships?

Try to feel the emotions and "recall" the experiences.

Review the list, looking for goals that jump out at you

Now look over your list again and circle or highlight the goals that seem to jump out at you. This may seem like a weird step, but give it a shot. Just review the list and pay attention to goals that pique your interest.

Don't try to make it make sense. These goals become your MagnetGoals, goals that will provide direction to your life like magnetic north provides direction for a compass. As you go through the list, you'll notice some of the goals are ones that involve lots of other goals on your list. But others will simply stand on their own.

These MagnetGoals are the ones to focus on for the next 12 months. Though the number varies, there will probably be only five or seven goals. If there are more than will fit on an index card, you might want to pare the list down a bit.

In the MagnetGoals Workbook, I share a worksheet to help you create a roadmap for accomplishing each of your goals. While you'll focus on these goals daily for the next 12 months, I'd encourage you to review the list of 100 quarterly, making notes as goals are accomplished.

Each quarter, you'll be amazed at how many things you've accomplished, even without daily focusing on them!

It's your life

It's your life, so set your own goals. Obviously, many of the goals that will increase your quality of life will be the ones you'll do for you employer or board of directors. But having the other goals is incredibly helpful. In the workbook, I talk about one of my MagnetGoals was to learn ballroom dancing. Just working on this let my wife know that I valued her and loved her.

If you'd like to have these directions emailed to you over a two week period, you can sign up for the free MagnetGoals email list at: http://fundraisingcoach.com/magnet-goals

This is how I set goals each year. What systems work for you? Let me know in the "comments" section below.

Get the complete MagnetGoals guide to personal and professional goal setting, go to http://fundraisingcaoch.com/magnet-goals/

About Marc Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the author of Ask Without Fear!, director of The Nonprofit Academy, and founder of FundraisingCoach.com. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family!

Follow him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.

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