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For the third in a six-part series about stepping up your job search or job upgrade process, business coach Kate Kerr (nee Hanley) explains the importance of goal setting.

We’ve talked about the role of a calendar and networking in the job search. And this week, you want to talk about goal setting, correct?

Yes. This is actually one of my favorite topics to work on with the people that I coach. Goals empower people and allow them to see they are in the driver’s seat in life. Setting goals lifts the fog that many people have around major “wants” in life, not only in business but around relationships, money, travel…you name it.

What would be the first step in getting serious about goal setting?

I start with the big picture, where do you want to be in five years, two years, one year, six month – break down the various areas of your life and list the major goals that, if hit, would allow for your dream life.

And what’s next?

Break down the goals into “digestable” parts. Craft your one-year, six-month, and one-month plans. Outline small goals that, if performed consistently, will lead to accomplishing your bigger (ie, five years plus) goals.

How would you advise those who tend to bite off more than they can chew? How can they best assess the “achievability” of their goals?

I advise my clients to have a daily to-do list that outlines action items that work towards your bigger goals (i.e., if you’re training for a marathon that’s taking place in six months, daily physical training should be on your to do list). When starting off, it helps to have goal support – read books on the subject you’re interested in or spend time with people who have achieved your desired goal.

And what would you say to those who tend to get discouraged during the time it takes to achieve goals?

Frustration along the way to reaching goals happens to everyone. It’s normal. A few tips to keep you motivated: Print out your top three goals and put them where you can see them every day (bathroom mirror, in your office, etc.) These subliminal reminders set you straight on a daily basis. Cut out pictures that represent your goals (a magazine cut out of that trip to Bora Bora you want to take with your husband in three years), you’ll be astonished by the power of the images that pull you towards your goals.

What are some of the pitfalls/challenges you’ve seen your clients face in the implementation of this procedure?

Giving up too easy. People with weak willpower will throw in the towel in month three for a goal that has a six-month timeline. I remind my clients to evaluate their goals based on the acronym SMART. A goal can be reached only if it is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound.

How about their successes?

All of my clients who work with me set their short and long-term goals as one of the first steps of the coaching process. I have seen so many goals met or exceeded. For example, I recently worked with one of my clients to double her income in three months, that was her goal and that’s what happened. We designed her daily to-do list to support her short, three-month net income goal. I have been setting goals for years in my business since I believe you need to identify the destination (goals) before you begin the journey (actions you take every day to get to the goal).

What additional advice would you give someone interested in setting some job search goals?

I would go to a quiet place, take a hike, go to a coffee shop…somewhere where you can evaluate where you are in your career and where you want to be (i.e., dream job, income, etc). Jot down all of the thoughts around your business (or otherwise) that arise. If you’re new to the goal setting process, start small with a three-month goal, write out what you want, and then work backwards from three months to what you need to do daily, in small increments, to get you to your three-month goal. If you use the tools mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to meeting – and exceeding – your goals.

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