Goals & the 7 Habits

If you have read the Steven Covey “7 Habits” book you know that goals are a big part of the habits.   Being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, “sharpening the saw” are all habits that are goal-driven.

For those of you who still carry around planners (I was one of those people for many years) you know that each one has a “system” for writing down and tracking short and long term goals.  Goals are really important.   The experts suggest that written goals are very, very important.

Let me admit something – I’ve never written down long term goals.  Actually I take that back, I did write down some long term goals in the last planner I used.  That was about 1995, right before the Palm Pilot hit the market.

I don’t write down long term goals because frankly I’m not sure what the next 5-10 years is going to throw at me.  I remember one of my long term goals I wrote down was to be a good father and husband.  Not really a “SMART” goal, but it’s one that I like to think I achieved.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t have goals.  My goals tend to be more operational than strategic.  For example, I have a goal every month to place 3 people.  To make this happen my daily goal is  to manage the workload that I’ve set up for myself in Outlook and our Applicant Tracking System which is designed to meet a weekly goal of making 50 calls.  Those calls will turn into 4-5 candidates that I can market a week, and I place 20% of the people I market.

If I average 4.5 people to market a week and there’s 4.2 weeks in a month and my placement averages hold I will place 3 people consistently, each and every month.  Guess how many people I placed in 2009.  36.  I don’t write that annual goal down (maybe I should), I don’t write the monthly goal down and I don’t even write the daily goals down.  I simply know what it’s going to take.   The numbers are tracked in our ATS and I do keep an eye on them to make sure I’m on track, but I don’t write “Place 3 people this month” at the top of my calendar.

The point I’m making is Steven Covey is right – you need to begin with the end in mind.  Maybe you do have a 5 year plan.  Break that down into 5 separate years.  How far should you be along your path after 12 months?  24 months?  Now break each one of those 12 month periods into quarters, what should you have accomplished by the end of March?  June?  Oct?  Between now and March what do you need to get done on a weekly basis?  How about on a daily basis?  The bottom line is we live day-to-day and we need to know what we should be doing when we get up in the morning.  What do I need to get done TODAY that will get me where I need to go?  Whether the end game is the end of the year or the end of the new decade, you need to have a daily plan of actionable items that are taking you down the right path.

What are some good goals for a job seeker?  How many networking events do you have in your planner for January?  How many new contacts have you made since the New Year started?  How many cups of coffee have you drank gathering information from those contacts?  What company have you targeted and what steps are you taking to get them to talk to you?  How many resumes have you sent out and (more importantly) how many follow up calls have you made on those resumes?  What additional training are you seeking?  Have you even identified what you want to do when you grow up?  Each one of these action items can be broken down into a daily regiment.

Like it or not, you’re now in sales.  Prospecting, product knowledge, market research, following up, giving your “pitch” and closing the deal are all part of the job search process.   Set some goals around these activities.  You’ll be surprised by the results.

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