Monday, December 26, 2011

Setting Professional Goals

As a freshman in college, I stumbled across a Zig Ziglar cassette tape at the college library. Listening to Zig explain the power of goals was one of my first exposures to the basic process of setting goals, and since then I have learned more and more about goal setting and have set and achieved many educational and career goals. The culmination of these career goals happened 10 years after my first Zig Ziglar experience: I took my position as a faculty member at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio. After taking the position, my wife bought me tickets to hear Zig Ziglar speak- a truly excellent experience. I am now continuing the process of setting new career goals and am excited to achieve future success.

The Goal-setting Process.
Setting Goals is Crucial
One thing that I have learned over the last several years is this: For career success, it is absolutely crucial that we set goals. But what is the best way to set these goals?

The most effective process for setting goals is actually very similar to the process for systematically designing instruction. It is the systematic process for designing your life. You could interject career, health, relationships, or anything else for "life." This process has helped me and my beautiful wife develop a healthy, happy relationship; I have set and reached numerous educational goals. I have also gained several desired professional positions through this goal-setting process. Organizing your mind and your habits around this process can help you achieve your own goals as an instructional designer and as a human being.

Goal Setting Process
I will use the basic ADDIE Model (with modifications, of course) to show you you can systematically "design" your career (or any other part of your life) using this goal-setting process. To succeed at reaching your goals, answer the following questions:

Analysis- What are your goals?

What are your specific career goals? What position, job description, or title would you like to have?

Design- What must you do to reach this goal?

What education or credentials must you obtain to reach these goals?
What additional skills or knowledge must you obtain to reach these goals?
What real-world experience must you obtain to reach these goals?

Develop- What will you do this year to reach these goals?

What are the first action steps that you must take over the coming year to begin moving toward your career goals? Be sure to include the education, knowledge, skills, and experience necessary for reaching your goals.
What preparations must you make to begin working toward these goals?
What obstacles will get in the way of taking these action steps?

Implement- Do the plan!

Star doing your plan as identified in the previous steps.This is perhaps the most difficult part, but if your plan is sound, you will find yourself moving toward your goal.

Evaluate- How is it Working? What can I do to improve?

During the Implementation of your plan: 
How is your plan working? Are you moving toward your goals? Are you successfully completing your action steps? What is going well? What obstacles and problems are you seeing? How can you refine your plan so that it works more effectively and efficiently?

After the Implementation of your plan:
Did it work? Are you moving closer to your career goal? What else could you do to gain the education, knowledge, skills and experience required?

Repeat Your Goal-setting
Goals and action steps should be reviewed constantly to ensure you are on the right path. The goal-setting process should be done on a regular basis, perhaps every 3 to 6 months. I recommend setting long-term goals first (3-5+ year goals) and then mapping out what you can do on the short-term (1-2 years) and immediately (this year/month/week). This keeps the long-term goal in mind and at the same time helps you focus on what you must do now to reach your goals.

I review my goals regularly to see where I am and see where I need to go. It has helped me to achieve a lot over the last few years, and I plan to continue to set goals and achieve excellence through this process. When we think about our career and life goals systematically, the path becomes more clear and we can more easily change our actions and move forward successfully.

What do you think? Have you used this or a similar process? Is the goal setting process of value? Your thoughts and insights are welcome in the comment area below. In my next post, I will share my own professional development goals for the coming year and will also provide some ideas for setting new years resolutions for setting professional development goals this coming year.


Timothy said...

Well thought out. Greatly organized and laid out understandably. I think I will apply this to my own goal setting.

Joel Gardner said...

Thanks, Tim, I appreciate the feedback. I've tried to apply this process of goal-setting over the years and have had some success. Hope it is helpful to others as well.

I am also planning on post a little more about "professional development" in the next few days. Happy new year!