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To grow and develop as a leader in the workplace, you must set concrete goals for yourself and work toward attaining them. Approach the process of setting goals as you would any other work project. First, brainstorm and let your ideas go wild. Then narrow your focus, outline a plan, identify action steps and get to work.

Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and aim for goals that are out of your comfort zone. You must push your leaderships skills to strengthen and expand them.

Smart Guidelines for Setting Goals

1. Make sure they are your goals.

It can be surprisingly easy to confuse your own ambitions with those of other people — colleagues, employees, family members. When you determine your personal work goals, ask yourself questions to determine your motivation: Why do I want to work toward this goal? What do I hope to achieve with a successful outcome? Am I acting out of guilt or obligation?

2. Think big before you get too practical.  

When you are in the early stages of setting goals, don’t get weighed down by the “how” part of it just yet. First, allow yourself to think of ambitious (even crazy) hopes and dreams, and you can think through the practical details later in the process. Take five minutes and imagine the top three work ideas you want to become a reality. They must be specific, but they should also be bold (for example, “I want to make our company the number one provider of tax assistance in the state.”). Write them down.

3. Make them clear, concrete and measurable.

Now that you have an idea of what you want to achieve, it’s time to dig deeper into specific details. Ask questions to tighten up your goals and identify any holes or problems. What is a reasonable timeline to reach this goal? Am I committed to doing everything it takes to achieve it? What leadership skills will be most essential in the process? What are my fears and doubts? Use this step-by-step plan for setting goals.

4. Keep your goals front and center.

The saying “out of sight, out of mind” applies to accomplishing your goals. Find ways to keep them always on your radar. Tell others about your goals to gain their support and to keep you accountable. Write down your goals and display the piece of paper on your desk or somewhere you will see it frequently.

What is your process for setting goals? How do you stay focused?

Learn more about EDSI’s Challenging the Status Quo for Continuous Improvement course.

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