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How to make goals and stick to them: 5 steps for success

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Estimated reading time: 4 minutes 

Setting effective goals at work is important for professional growth. It provides direction, motivation and a clear roadmap for success.

So, what steps should you take to create meaningful objectives? Follow my advice on how to make goals and stick to them so you stay focused on reaching your work-related aspirations.

How to set SMART goals.

Goals that are too vague are more difficult to achieve. Setting specific goals will help you stick to them.

For example, saying you want to be more productive at work is a vague goal. Make that goal more specific by saying you will use daily checklists to organize and prioritize your workload.

A good way to ensure your goals are detailed and precise is to use the SMART method. The SMART method helps you create goals that are:

S - Specific:

  • Develop direct, detailed and meaningful goals.

M - Measurable:

  • Keep track of your progress toward reaching your goals.

A - Attainable:

  • Make sure you can accomplish your goals in a reasonable amount of time.

R - Relevant:

  • Create goals that align with your short- and long-term plans.

T - Time specific:

  • Have a clear timeline for when you want to achieve your goals.

How to stick to your goals

1. Map out a plan for achieving your goals.

The next step in working toward your goals is to create a well-thought-out plan. Think about each goal and what it will take to achieve it. Write your thoughts down to make them real and tangible.

When creating your plan, write down:

  • Exactly what you want to achieve.
  • The steps you need to take to reach each goal.

  • The time frame in which you want to achieve the goal.

Talk with your leader to make sure they’re aligned with your plan. They may have some extra ideas you can try about how to follow through with your goals.

2. Create smaller steps to help reach your goal.

Break down your goals into smaller tasks or milestones that are easier to achieve. I recommend attaching a tangible deadline to each task. That way, you have more milestones to work toward versus only one that’s many months away.

For example, if you want to advance into a leadership position by the end of the year, you might take the following steps before you apply:

  • Attend two leadership courses every month.
  • Do sit-ins with other leaders in your department.

  • Get a mentor and meet with them bi-weekly.

3. Schedule time to work toward your goals.

Carve out time in your schedule to work on your goals. Block off a few hours in your calendar every week. Doing so will help you focus on your tasks without getting distracted.

Setting aside time on a regular basis will help you:

  • Create consistency.
    • For example, if your goal is to expand your industry knowledge, set aside 30 minutes three days a week to read industry-related articles. This will help you create a consistent schedule that makes your goal feel more attainable.
  • Remember your goals.
    • Scheduling time each week to work toward your goals will help keep them at the top of your mind.
  • Prioritize tasks.
    • Finding time in your schedule to work on your goals will help you decide where they fall within your other tasks.

It’s important to communicate with your leader if you don’t have enough time to work toward your goals.

4. Develop an accountability system.

Holding yourself accountable to work toward your goals each week is vital to achieving them. If your company requires you to have yearly work goals, you will most likely already check in with your leader at mid-year to see if you’re on track to meet them.

However, there are a of couple ways you can hold yourself accountable throughout the year, including:

  • Tracking your progress with a calendar or journal to map out:
    • What tasks you’ve already completed.
    • What work still needs to be done to achieve your goal.
    • How close you are to reaching your goal.

5. Ask for help when you need it.

We all need help sometimes. If you're falling behind where you want to be with your goals, ask your leader for some guidance.

For example, if you notice at mid-year that you’re behind on one of your goals, connect with your leader about what steps you can take to get back on track.

How to stay motivated to achieve your goals

Staying motivated is key to sticking with your long-term goals. Find things that excite and challenge you to keep yourself inspired, such as:

  • Joining networking groups.
  • Reading industry-related articles.

  • Attending training courses related to your goals.

  • Listening to inspirational podcasts about the goal you’re working toward.

  • Talking to co-workers or friends who have similar goals as you.

  • Rewarding yourself when you reach a milestone in the process of reaching your goal.

Achieve your work goals more efficiently.

Looking for ways to complete your tasks at work more efficiently? Stay at the top of your game with our tips on how to improve your energy management at work. 
About the author
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Tara is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She started at Schneider in 2019 as a Customer Service intern and is currently a Driver Recruiter. In her free time, Tara loves spending time with family and friends, singing, painting and four-wheeling.

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