Setting meaningful goals are important, but the follow up (monitoring your progress and realizing when you are off track) are especially critical.

Scott Gunderson, professor and co-chair of business at Dakota County Technical College advocates the SMART goal process (see the sidebar to see what SMART stands for).

Goals

It starts with establishing realistic goals. You should set lofty goals, but don't set something so unrealistic that you can't achieve it.

"There are dreams and there are goals," says Gunderson.

Within the main goal you've set, you also set smaller goals. For instance, if you want to make more sales, you might have to make a mini goal of coming to work earlier each day.

It's also important to reward yourself as you achieve your goals.

"Incorporate wins into the process," says Gunderson. "That makes it easier to attain your goals."

Check Your Progress

Monitoring your progress is critical. After all, if you don't know where you are, you don't know when you'll get there.

"It's easy to schedule follow up meetings with your boss or your subordinates," says Gunderson.

Personal goals require you to be more mindful of checking in to track your progress.

"For a personal goal you can setup Outlook to remind you to keep track of your goal," says Gunderson. "The best way to check in is to schedule it."

If you aren't making progress toward your goal, it's best to revisit and reevaluate the goal.

"We get off track because the goal isn't realistic," says Gunderson.

He also advises letting other people know your goals so they can help, and keep you accountable.

"Use your network to help you reach your goal and keep people informed," says Gunderson. "For instance, if you need to be off every Tuesday at 2 p.m., `this is the reason.'"

Progressing toward your goals requires the effort to check your progress and realize when change needs to be made.

"You have to keep evaluating the SMART process," notes Gunderson.


Robert Elsenpeter is a freelance writer from Blaine.