Goal-Setting: The Most Important Step in Building Your Career
When people ask about your New Year’s resolutions, tell them, "I don’t make resolutions. I set goals."
And do it.
And make sure your No. 1 goal is this: To build your career as a freelancer. To get your first (or second … or tenth) job.
But what if you’ve just started one of the AWAI programs? Wouldn’t it be better to make it your No. 1 goal to finish the program and get a good evaluation on your work?
No. That’s not a primary goal. That’s what Michael Masterson calls a "Category B" objective that will help you achieve your main "Category A" goal of building your career.
Let’s say you’re a graphic-design member who has just started the AWAI program. A good career-building Category A goal for you might be:
"By December 31, 2005, I will have been paid $1,500 for my first DM graphic-design job."
Your next step is to list all the things you’ll have to do to accomplish that. For example:
- Finish the AWAI Graphic Design program by August 15, 2005.
- Send out solicitation letters to 500 prospects.
- Make 100 follow-up phone calls.
- Design 5 packages on spec.
Those are your Category B objectives. Each one will have something to do with developing the skills, contacts, and experience that you need to get to the finish line (achieve your Category A goal of getting your first paid assignment by December 31st). And each one will be attached to a specific deadline – and a strategy to make it happen. You might also need to set some Category C objectives to get you to Category B.
The point is to break down a seemingly overwhelming long-term goal into smaller, easy-to-achieve mid-term and short-term objectives.
Let’s look at some specifics to see how this works.
CATEGORY "A" GOAL: By December 31, 2005, I will have been paid $1,500 for my first DM graphic-design job.
CATEGORY "B" OBJECTIVE: Finish the AWAI Graphic Design program by August 15, 2005.
* Strategy: Work on the program from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. every night except Sunday.
CATEGORY "C" OBJECTIVE: Finish chapters 1-5 in the program by February 15, 2005.
CATEGORY "C" OBJECTIVE: Finish chapters 6-10 in the program by April 30, 2005.
CATEGORY "C" OBJECTIVE: Finish and submit final assignment by June 15, 2005.
CATEGORY "C" OBJECTIVE: Revise final assignment by July 31, 2005.
You get the idea.
Give yourself a New Year’s gift by coming up with your goals for 2005 today. When you do, keep the following goal-setting "rules" in mind:
- WRITE down your goals, objectives, and strategies. Unwritten goals are as good as the paper they’re written on.
- Make each goal and objective as specific as possible. Give each one a time limit. Specify how many chapters need to be read each day, how many people need to be contacted each week, etc.
- Check your short-term (Category C) objectives daily and your medium-term (Category B) objectives monthly. This should take no more than 10 minutes.
- Make changes to your deadlines if you have to … but BE HONEST. Don’t use this as an excuse for not sticking to your plan.
- If you are not accomplishing your short-term and medium-term objectives, it may be that you were too optimistic when you set them – so make realistic revisions. If that’s not the problem, perhaps reaching your goals is NOT an important priority in your life. (More on that in a future issue.)
Set aside 30 minutes right now. Sit at your desk or table and WRITE your goals and objectives. Be specific. Be positive. Be concise. Be realistic. Be successful!
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