The 7 Rules of Effective Goal Setting


1. Base your goals upon your mission statement. If you’ve created your mission statement according to the Nightingale-Conant mission statement builder, you have big goals to achieve by one year from today. Next, you’ll need to break them down into quarterly, monthly and even weekly goals. Stephen Covey has a great quote in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  He says, “If you don’t set your goals based upon your mission statement, you may be climbing ‘the ladder of success’ only to realize, when you get to the top, you’re on the wrong building.”

2. Set goals in all areas of your life. Mental goals are your goals for your career and financial well-being. Physical goals are for the shape of your body and what you put in it. Emotional goals are for enhancing your relationships—personal and professional. And spiritual goals are those things you do on a regular basis that will get you more in touch with your self, however you define that. If you don’t set goals in these four areas, you will eventually find yourself out of balance.

3. Commit your goals to writing. Write your goals down, because if you don’t, you’re just daydreaming. And once you write them down, it’s probably a good idea to look at them once in a while, like every day.

4. Your goals must be realistic. You might want to add “optimistically” in front of realistic. This is the essence of the coaching relationship I have with my clients—I want them to stretch themselves without setting their goals so high that they feel overwhelmed. I believe all financial advisers, especially rookies in the first three years in the industry, benefit from having some type of coach or mentor to help them set and evaluate their goals on a regular basis.

5. Quantify your goals with a deadline. Obviously, it’s easy to quantify dollar production numbers. It may be more challenging to find a way to quantify the number of new accounts needed to achieve those numbers or to determine other career benchmarks needed, such as professional designations, improved technical ability, computer skills, etc. But what fun is any game where you don’t keep score?

6. Show flexibility when moving toward your goals. By analogy, if your goal is to become “King” or “Queen” and you start to move toward this goal, you might find there is a preliminary step to first become “Prince” or “Princess.” You should then adjust your goal accordingly. Notice I said “adjust,” not wimp out.

7. Practice. The way you get good at goal setting is the way you get good at anything—practice. The process of effective goal setting is not taught in schools or even in many business organizations, so most people have never engaged in the discipline of sitting down and writing out exactly what they want to achieve and by when. And often, when they do begin, they set their goals too high then they get overwhelmed and quit.

Jim Rohrbach
Success Skills Coach
Lincolnwood, Ill.

3 thoughts on “The 7 Rules of Effective Goal Setting

  1. I like to include images in goal setting with clients. Something in our brain gets triggered when we can see a clear picture of the goal we’re aiming for, something that goes beyond words. Thanks for the great post!

  2. Thanks for the kind words Jude! I agree with your comment. All top athletes use visualization to win medals/championships — the same skill applies to business.

  3. I love when people tie goals into their mission statement. I also love when a mission statement is short (no more than ten words) and can be answered with a yes or no. When these two things are done there can be some powerful results.

    Josh Patrick

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