Set A Big Goal -- And Achieve -- It This Year
We all like to start the New Year with a list of resolutions, but listing them and achieving them can be two different things. A strong beginning is the first step to a successful journey, and follow through is key to getting to the finish line.
Kristy Wallace, President of Ellevate Network, knows a lot about what it takes to set a goal and complete the steps to make it happen. In 2014, she realized that she was looking for a career that had more meaning and impact, and preferably one that focused on tech or girls.
She was at a crossroads. She had just had her second child and spent most of her career at start ups. She took a short career break, and focused on connecting with people who could help her find the kinds of companies she was looking for. Eventually she met with leaders at Ellevate (formerly 85 Broads) and she landed her current role.
In her recent webinar, Kristy talked about how to set big goals, how to complete the smaller steps in order to get there, and most importantly, how to stay focused when you hit roadblocks.
Step One: Set A Goal
What’s the big picture? Where do you want to be a year from now? Do you want a new job? To start a business? Overcome a challenge in the workplace? Raise money for your venture? When setting your goal, it should be something that is attainable and a goal that you have control over (i.e., we all want to win the lottery but this isn’t a goal that you can control).
You may have multiple goals. If you have several different ideas, think about which ones are the most important to you, personally. What are most important, professionally? They might be tied. You may want a job with more meaning and impact, but you’re making good money where you are now. Is there a middle ground?
Taking career risks is easier when you have a plan, such a financial cushion or a partner’s income. Before you make any sudden changes, look at where you are in life and what you’re willing to do to get to that next level.
Step Two: Make A List
What are the smaller things you’ll need to do in order to achieve this goal? Gain new skills? Redo your resume? Spend time networking?
Write it all down. There are no right or wrong answers. The steps we take to achieve goals is different for each of us. Focus on what will have the most impact.
For example, if you’re like most Ellevate members, who want to expand their network in the New Year, you’ll probably want to:
• Attend networking events
• Join professional groups
• Re-engage with 20 old contacts
• Connect with 25 new people
• Grow your social media footprint
• Be a rock star!
Step 3: Commit To A Timeline
Create a roadmap. What’s one thing you can accomplish each week or month as you work towards your goal? Don’t try to get it all done in a week.
If you’re trying to grow your network, you may want to:
• Go to at least one networking event a month in Q1
• Join a professional group
• Re-engage with 20 old contacts within the first 30 days of your plan
• Connect with 25 new people in Q1
• Grow your social media footprint by posting three times a day and follow three new people
Put the things that are hardest for you to, first. If you have a family at home and can’t make it to a networking event every week, then your goal should be one a month. Put that one on top and commit to doing it. When you put the most challenging part first, you’ll overcome it and everything else will seem easy.
How To Measure Successful Networking
This depends on when you want to accomplish. If you are looking to grow your network for the purpose of being connected to more people then you may focus on increasing your LinkedIn following. If you are looking to grow your network as a means to gaining support for your new business then you may focus more on developing deeper connections. Who do you want to connect with and what is your ask from them. More importantly, what can you offer them in return?
You Will Definitely Come Across Some Failure
Failure is tough, which is why it’s important to have a support network. But remember, failure does not define you. It’s just a road block on your way to success.
Plenty of people said ‘no’ to Kristy when she was going through her career break. Lots of people never got back to her, but she kept going. That can be daunting, especially when the tasks you need to complete in order to achieve your goal are to talk to people who work at certain companies.
Throughout the journey, you should always reassess. Sure, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Maybe you won’t find a new job in a month. When your goal relies on outside forces, you need to be flexible. If one aspect is causing a delay, what else can you do to move towards your goal?
But keep pushing forward. Accomplish something every day and every week. Stay focused on the goal.
What Kristy Learned
1. Take time to reflect on what you want.
2. Be clear on the steps you need to take.
3. Work (and appreciate) your network.
4. Take time for yourself.
5. Surround yourself with supportive people.
6. Perseverance is key.
7. Don’t be afraid to revise your goal.
8. Expect to work hard.
9. Celebrate small victories.
10. Be positive and believe in yourself.
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