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Career Coach: Achievers Take Note

The Career Coach helps readers outline an action plan to attaining your goals no matter what they may be.

Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Often the most difficult obstacle to achieving a goal is just getting started. Beginning has power in it. During the summer, I hike on a mountainous trail near my house every morning. Just getting started, getting out of bed early to beat the sun is often the hardest part. Once I get going, every step I take motivates me to keep going.

What steps are you taking to reach your goals? Perhaps you havent started or dont know how to begin. Heres a tool to help you reach your dreams.

The tool you are going to learn about is a Goals Notebook. Youll need a three-ring binder, five pages of three-hole paper, and a pen. Label the spine and front cover of the notebook Goals.

Label page 1 Goal and put todays date on it. Label page 2 Why. Label page 3 What I need. Label page 4 Action Plan. Label page 5 Calendar/Schedule.

Write down your goal

On page 1 write down your goal. Be as specific as you can. Set measurable goals.

Its important to write down your goals, because goals can give you a sense of direction, a purpose, a focus. The more specific you are the better. You have a target to aim for. If you have a long-term goal, you have decided your destination before setting out upon the journey, writes Don Gabor in Big Things Happen When you do the Little Things Right.

For example, perhaps your goal is to lose 20 pounds. Write: I will lose 20 pounds.

How achieving this goal will change your life

On page 2 write down why the goal is important to you. Write how achieving this goal will change your life. Picture yourself accomplishing the goal and write how it would make you feel to achieve the goal. Draw a picture or find photos or illustrations from magazines and paste them on this page to help you visualize what youve written. Find an image that will inspire you to work on your goal.

In the example, losing 20 pounds will make you feel better about your body and your doctor says you will feel healthier. You also want to buy a new bathing suit and other clothes.

In this example, you might cut out a picture of a bathing suit you like and glue it on page 2. Or if you are motivated by negative images, a photo of an overweight person might be good.

What you need to achieve your goal

On page 3 list what is needed to achieve your goal.

In our example youve written that to lose 20 pounds you need to stop eating desserts and to exercise more. You may need exercise equipment, clothing, a gym membership and a calorie-counting book.

Action Plan

On page 4 labeled Action Plan list ideas of how to accomplish your goal. All action items must be specific.

Your list of what you need to do to lose 20 pounds stated that you need to eliminate desserts at night and exercise more.

Your Action Plan to lose 20 pounds will include:

Dont eat desserts.

Exercise: Join a gym. Attend three times a week. Walk around the neighborhood every morning. Take tennis lessons.

Note what amount of time you can devote to each activity in your action plan per day or per week. i.e. Tennis lessons once a week for one hour. Walk neighborhood in mornings one hour per day.

Weigh yourself. Subtract 20 pounds. On page 1 where you have written the goal I want to lose 20 pounds, write, I will weigh (current weight 20 pounds on (specific date), 2006. A goal is a dream with a deadline.


On page 5 you will create a calendar, incorporating the activities from your action plan. This is where you will schedule your time to carry out your action plan and to track your progress and daily activity. Leave a space where you can check off the items as you complete them. Each time you give yourself a check, pat yourself on the back. You are making progress toward accomplishing your goal and achieving your dreams.

Your daily, weekly and monthly goals should support your long-term goals. Even if its a small goal, give yourself targets. You may not always achieve your goal, but the simple act of setting the goal will motivate you to accomplish more than you might otherwise accomplish.

A calendar for losing 20 pounds might look like this:

Starting weight: ___________ Goal weight (starting weight minus 20 pounds)

Week 1


Walk for one hour in neighborhood Tue: Go to gym for one hour of Pilates class (Remember to fill in what time your class meets) Wed: Walk for one hour in neighborhood Thu: Go to gym for swimming aerobics class Fri: Take tennis lesson Sat: Walk neighborhood Sun: Walk neighborhood and weigh myself at 10:00 am

Starting weight week 2 ___________

Starting weight week 3 ___________

Follow Through, Measure Your Progress and Reward Yourself

After you get started, vital steps to achieving your goal are to follow through, measure your progress and reward yourself.

At the end of each day evaluate how productive you were based on how successful you were in achieving your goals. If you were not successful, determine why. Make a commitment not to let the same distractions impede your productivity again.

To measure your progress in the case of losing weight-give yourself a check mark every time you forgo dessert. Check off every time you exercise and follow your schedule. Give yourself a pat on the back.

Weigh yourself once a week only and mark your progress on the calendar. As with all goals it takes time to lose weight. Dont give up if you dont show immediate progress. After three weeks, calculate how much weight you have lost. If it is one pound, recognize that it might take 60 weeks (20 pounds x three weeks) to reach your goal. Write the new date for your goal on page 1.

Every time you work on your goal, congratulate yourself on your persistence. You will encounter setbacks, but every time you overcome an obstacle, every time you keep going, you are making progress toward an important accomplishment.

Heres another example:

An artists goal may be to create a portfolio of 25 good life drawings of wild animals. (Page 1)

The artist has written his reasons for wanting to accomplish the goal and how it might change his life I will have a portfolio to submit for jobs and might get a new job and career. I will improve my life drawing skills. He might photocopy some life drawing from a book and glue it underneath his statements of how this might make him feel. (Page 2)

To accomplish this goal the artist lists he will need art supplies (paper, pencils), zoo visits (zoo membership) and time. (Page 3)

The artist creates an Action Plan for creating a portfolio of 25 life drawings: (Page 4) Buy art supplies. (paper, pencils, sketchbook) Buy zoo membership Visit the zoo on weekends (opens at 10 am). Draw for three hours per day. Plan to get one good drawing per day. Length of time needed to produce 25 drawings at rate of one per day is 25 days. Plan to visit zoo two days per week, 25 days/two days per week = 12 weeks = 13 weeks is amount of time needed to create 25 drawings. Animals to draw: Giraffe, hippo, lion, bear, turtle, alligator

Now he adds the estimated date of completion (13 weeks from now) on page 1, rewriting the goal statement I will create a portfolio of 25 life drawings of wild animals by (13 weeks from today). The dream is now a goal. A goal is a dream with a deadline.

Next the artist makes a calendar/schedule to carry out his action plan. (Page 5)

Week 1


Buy art supplies. Sat: Buy zoo membership. Draw giraffes from 10 to 1. Sun: Draw giraffes from 10 to 1.

Week 2


Draw hippos from 10 to 1. Sun: Draw hippos from 10 to 1.

At the end of the first day, the artist reviews his progress. He displays the best giraffe drawings he did. He puts them where he will see them when he wakes up. He already has something to show for his time and efforts. Congratulations are due-hes started making his dreams a reality.

On the Road to Success

You can add goals to your goal notebook at any time. Just put in a divider, label it with the new goal, add five more pages and go through the process.

Write down your goal Ask yourself what you want

Write how achieving this goal will change your life and paste an inspiring image next to the statements

List what you need to achieve your goal

Create an action plan

Add a date of completion to your goal and write a goal statement

Create a calendar/schedule for the action plan

Follow through, measure your progress and reward yourself

Going through these seven steps will help you set smaller goals to help you attain the larger goals, which will help you gain control. Goals are a roadmap for success.

Review your book of written goals every day. Stick to your schedule and you will see steady progress.

Once you have accomplished a goal, even the incremental goals on the way to your major goals, congratulate yourself and celebrate. Set aside time regularly to assess your progress and plan new goals. If you use the goals notebook tool to track your progress, setting goals and achieving goals will become a habit. That will take you far on the road to success.

Pamela Kleibrink Thompson is a recruiter/hiring strategist and career coach. As a career coach, she helps clients identify their goals and devise strategies to attain them. As a recruiter, she helps her clients find top quality people. She has recruited for visual effects companies such as Digital Domain and Framestore as well as animation companies such as Disney and Fox and software companies such as Macromedia. On Jan. 26, 2006. Pamela will be presenting a seminar on goal setting. For details see