Coaches Diary: SMART Goals

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This week Olivia Stefanino helps a client set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, written & timed.

Colin was looking for inspiration. Last year he had managed to survive in business – but he was looking to achieve greater things in 2005.

He listened carefully when I told him that there are three kinds of people – those who see opportunities and watch them go by; those who take opportunities and the smallest percentage of all: those who make opportunities.

If Colin wanted more for his business than mere survival, then it was going to be up to him to create the success that he was seeking.

We agreed that Colin needed to set himself some goals – both personal and corporate. He admitted that in the past, he had run his company reactively – and while he was now adept at crisis management, his organisation was operating without a clear vision of where it was going.

Research has shown that people with SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, written and timed) goals are significantly more successful than those without goals. Students with SMART goals at Havard University – evaluated twenty years after their graduation – earned more than three times as much as their counterparts.

Hearing this, Colin was eager to start focusing on his own “bigger picture” – and in no time at all, he described his dream of where he wanted to be in ten years’ time. Initially, he felt that his aspirations were too grandiose, but I explained that by chunking down the big picture into more manageable goals, he had every chance of turning his dreams into reality.

With a clear picture of a successful future in mind, Colin’s next task was to create an action plan. By focusing on the gap between where he was now and where he wanted to be in ten years time, Colin could clearly see what he needed to do.

Rather than using a mind map for the exercise, I suggested that Colin create a timeline mural for his office. The mural would graphically depict every action – and timeframe – needed to manifest his goals.

* Olivia Stefanino is a leadership development consultant and executive coach. For more information on Olivia's work and to download your free e-booklet “128 ways to harness your personal power”, visit beyourownguru.com

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