The Power of the Plan-Goal Setting for Fun and Profit

by Eileen Nonemaker

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any path will take you there.”  Sioux Proverb

It’s amazing that most of us spend hours, even weeks, planning a brief vacation, but we don’t take the same time to plan our personal and business lives.

If we were to plan to drive across the country during summer vacation, we would order the maps from AAA, view the route online and set about plotting our course on the GPS. We would estimate how many miles we could travel each day, select cities and hotels for each evening and plan for possible obstacles, i.e., weather, construction, etc., along the way.

It is good to know that these planning skills can be translated to other areas of our business and personal lives. It is not that difficult when we follow some easy steps and have the right ATTITUDE. We need to know where we are now—what are our starting points? Second, where do we want to be-what is our goal?  How many dollars in the bank, a new car, a new house, a new ideal weight, higher sales revenues, a career change – and by when?

Then, WRITE it down!

Try running your goal through the S.M.A.R.T. test. Is it

  • Specific – Tangible, not intangible
  • Measurable – How do I know I’m there?
  • Attainable – Am I setting myself up for failure?
  • Realistically high – Do I need to stretch?
  • Target date – When do I want to be there, have what I want?

Since we are leaders of organizations, it is important and necessary for us to have organizational as well as departmental and individual goals. Our teams should consider the internal and external influences facing us and then decide our strengths, opportunities, liabilities and threats. From this analysis, we can determine and prioritize general goal categories. And from here we can determine, write, assign and then set up specific S.M.A.R.T. goals for ongoing evaluation.

In all goal setting, ask some valuable questions:

  • What are my rewards if I achieve this goal? We know what the rewards are when we go on vacation—warm weather, cold weather, relaxation, fine dining, museums, etc. What are the specific rewards of saving money, gaining market share, reaching a desired weight, making a new purchase or changing careers?
  • Conversely, what are the consequences of not meeting this goal? How bad will we hurt when we don’t get there? Will we stay in business?
  • And just as on a vacation, things can go wrong. What are the obstacles that can keep us from getting there? During a vacation, weather, a missed plane or train, or an illness are all possibilities. In planning for our personal and business lives, there are obstacles- other people, economic changes, illness, multiple priorities, even ourselves, as we often get in our own way. It’s best to think it through and deal with these obstacles up front.
  • Just as we invest in trip insurance or have back-up travel plans, we need contingency plans for when these obstacles do arise. It’s best if we identify the possible obstacles and develop the plans around them in advance. It is just like packing the right clothes—with options if the weather forecast should change or our luggage is lost. Do we have a succession plan, both personally and professionally? Are we prepared for unseen circumstances?

Planning a trip is a process. It starts out with a dream, an idea or a suggestion and moves forward from there. Our business and personal lives are journeys and require a similar process. With some forethought and analysis, we can gain more control over the results. Clear goal-setting practices can help us reap the rewards we deserve.

© 2010, Eileen Nonemaker

Eileen Nonemaker

Certified Business Coach

Paradigm Associates LLC



Eileen Nonemaker is a Certified Business Coach and Regional Director for Paradigm Associates LLC, an executive leadership development firm, providing insight, foresight and proven processes to professionals in the middle market. She coaches individuals and organizations to achieve success by integrating her background in education and teaching with her professional business and sales experience to meet the needs of her clients. Eileen is an effective speaker and frequent contributor to newsletters and magazines.

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