Make Plans for a Successful 2014

December 18, 2013


As the end of the year approaches

For years now, I have set aside some part of the time that elapses between Christmas and New Years to set goals for the upcoming year. It’s a process that I thoroughly enjoy. It requires me to review the year that is just about to end, consider the success I experienced, and examine where I came up short. Additionally, it encourages me to look into an imaginary crystal ball and imagine my future.

I create both professional and personal goals. My professional goals probably don’t differ dramatically from those of many other professionals. In a typical year, they include the number of new clients that I’d like to develop as well as the total amount of revenue that I’d like to earn; new ways to promote my business; the means by which I can deepen relationships with current clients; and steps I want to undertake to grow and develop professionally.

My personal goals reflect where I am in my life. Some years I conclude I must resolve a particular personal issue that’s keeping me from moving forward, and that resolution becomes a goal. In other years, I feel the need to accomplish something big, new and almost unreachable. This explains my one-time goals of running the Marine Corps Marathon (accomplished 2003) and swimming the Brooklyn Bridge (accomplished 2009).


Why you should set goals

If you don’t already engage in regular goal setting, here’s why you should start: super-achievers in virtually all fields do it. Long-term goals keep super achievers focused on what they want to accomplish in life, while short-term goals help them get out of bed each and every day. Life happens. Success is achieved.

Additionally, effective goal setting can help students and new professionals achieve the balance that so many say they seek. The first step to achieving balance is setting goals in multiple areas. Consider the following:

Career – identify what you want to achieve professionally;
Financial – identify how much you want to earn and think about how this relates to your career goals;
Knowledge – identify what you’d like to learn as well as the specific skills you must acquire to achieve your career goals; identify the additional knowledge you’d like to acquire on a personal level;
Family – clarify the role you wish to play in the family into which you were born as well as the one you may have started with a spouse or partner;
Community – identify how you will contribute to the world as a whole, even if your focus remains on only a small corner of it;
Spiritual – identify how you will bring peace into your life; and
Physical – identify some physical goal(s) that currently stands beyond your grasp, whether it’s running one lap around a track or completing a marathon.


As you begin

In each of the above categories, as you begin to consider possible specific goals, undertake the following five-step process:

Step 1: Accurately assess where you are. It’s impossible to understand where you need to be and how to get there unless you understand where you currently stand. Acquire feedback from your boss or supervisor, colleagues at work, and friends and family. Make sure you have the most complete and accurate possible picture of your current position in the world.

Step 2: Take responsibility. As you review your current status, take ownership. If you’ve decided that you must fix a relationship with a member of your family or a colleague at work, take responsibility for what you’ve done in the past that may have hampered that relationship. If you wish to right your financial ship, take responsibility for the expenditures you’ve made in the past, both the impulsive buys that you later regretted as well as your more thoughtful long-term investments that have increased your portfolio.

Step 3: Identify your unique talents & abilities. You have a unique set of talents and abilities. To the extent possible, you will be a happier person when you engage in work and pleasurable pursuits that draw on those talents and abilities. Focus on knowing what you do best. Similarly, look at the people with whom you interact regularly and focus on their special talents and attributes. Find the positive contributions they can make to your life and focus on those rather than perceived shortcomings. 

Step 4: Resolve to do what you love. At least one time every month, someone tells me, “I couldn’t possibly do what you do. The idea of sleeping in a different hotel room every night would drive me up a wall.” Of course, long ago I realized that if I needed to visit the same office day after day, by now, I would be in a straight jacket. Nothing makes me happier than traveling from one location to another and working with young people. It keeps me going. If you must work—and who of us doesn’t—commit to doing the work you love.

Step 5. Commit to giving 100%. Most of us know when we give less than our all. When we pull back from a relationship, when we refuse to share all that we know with colleagues, these failures to commit fully hamper our success. As you contemplate your goals for 2014, don’t set one unless you’re prepared to devote your mind, heart and spirit to making it happen.

I genuinely hope your next two weeks are filled with much happiness and many joyous celebrations. I also hope that you will find some quiet time to pull away on your own and dream. Before the New Year begins, develop goals that transform dreams into realities.

Happy holidays!  


What You Need to Know

Successful professionals—new and old alike—engage in goal setting. Use the last few days of the year to focus on establishing goals that will propel you forward



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