Last week I attended one of Natwest’s free ‘Women in Business’ workshops in Ipswich. The topic of the event was self development and maximising your potential. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn more about goal-setting and making these achievable so you actually see progress. Here’s what I learnt:

The importance of attitude

While there’s not a lot we can do about our personality, beliefs or values, which are very much set thanks to our DNA and early-life experiences, we do have much more control and flexibility over our attitudes, opinions and behaviour. Our attitudes and opinions influence our behaviour, which can be changed frequently to suit our circumstances.

Our attitudes and opinions influence our behaviour, which can be changed frequently to suit our circumstances.

For example, if you have the attitude that Monday mornings are terrible and go into work thinking this way, it’ll change how proactive your working behaviour is during that day and the way you present yourself – and no doubt impact everyone else around you too.

Your attitude influences your behaviour, which influences other people’s attitude and then their behaviour. This is a cyclical process and can affect how well you attain your goals, as well as how much you’re supported by those around you. When it comes to setting achievable goals, the first thing you must do is look at your attitude and how it’s affecting your behaviour.

Find your motivator – and write it down

When it comes to setting your goals, there’s a lot to be said for writing them down – and then every so often, referring back to them to see how you’re getting on. I’ve always known how valuable it is to visualise your goal (think the footballer who lines up the ball with the goal and imagines it going in before he makes his kick). I’ve also read before that writing down your goal increases your chances of achieving it, and this has been confirmed thanks to research conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews.

From making a note of what you want to achieve with work or your partner, hobbies or holiday plans, house or money, keep a plan of what you want to make happen and by what date. These will be what helps to motivate you forwards.

Make it measurable

Setting key performance indicators (or KPIs) will help to make your goal measurable, so you can track your progress. These will help to direct your efforts and ensure you can evaluate your progress against targets. They provide you with tangible benchmarks for motivating you towards your targets and identifying any major concerns.

Setting key performance indicators (or KPIs) will help to make your goal measurable, so you can track your progress.

It’s important to not set too many KPIs or they’ll become hard to manage. Ideally, don’t try to measure more than six key activity areas. You need to focus on both activity, as well as results. They should be simple, easy and based on current data or activities where possible. An example of a KPI could be ‘I’ll bring on four new customers by the end of the first financial quarter’ or ‘I’ll increase turnover by £20,000 by the end of this year’. You need to ensure it’s realistic and have an idea how you’ll reach it.

Create a SMART action plan

‘SMART’ stands for Specific, Measurable and meaningful, Agreed and achievable, Relevant and realistic, Time-bound. For every goal or KPI you set, you should put together a SMART action plan.

This will involve deciding:

  • What is the exact goal? (It needs to be specific, not general)
  • How will I know if I have been successful? (Setting KPIs will help)
  • What barriers need to be overcome in order for it to be achievable (i.e. time, confidence, knowledge, etc)
  • Is it realistic? (Can you actually do what is needed, and is it important priority-wise?)
  • When do you want to get there? (Set an exact date to achieve it by. Even if you don’t meet it, it’s important to have a point that you’re working towards in your head, rather than being vague).
  • How are you going to get there? (Think about what process needs to be implemented to reach your goal)
  • When will I start? (Set an exact date for when you’ll start trying to achieve your goal.