I used to hate goal-setting. Goals have always struck me as being like New Year’s resolutions: things you wish you would do but know full well you’re never going to do. But recently I’ve decided to re-evaluate my stance on goal-setting. Naturally I didn’t decide on my own; the self-help books I’ve been reading say that you can’t be a serious professional without goals. One of these books put it particularly well: “If you keep doing what you’re doing you’re going to keep getting what you’ve been getting.”

I think you will discover, as I am beginning to, that you need to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in your life and in your career before you can hope to attain it. For example, if you haven’t even decided that you want to own your own salon in five years, you are not engaged in the planning, money-saving, and learning you need to do to become a successful salon owner. Similarly, how do you decide whether to commit to spending several hundreds of dollars to travel to a show if you don’t know what you want to get out of the show? If you’ve always dreamed of being a nail competition champion, you have to make it a goal and then start plotting your course to become one.

There are some basic rules of goal-setting. First, you have to write down your goals. This makes the goals more real and helps you cement you commitment to them. I’ve heard it recommended that you also post your goals in a place where you will look at them frequently and be constantly reminded of them.

Goals can be short-and long-term and can apply to big life issues (where you want to be in your career) and small issues (a commitment to get one new client a week). You then need to establish a time frame in which you will work toward attaining your goals. Setting a deadline for yourself not only fuels the fire in you to get the thing done, it allows you to set smaller, interim goals that will help you achieve the bigger one.

Finally, once you have reached your goals you need to set new ones. Whether you have finally saved enough money to open that salon you’ve always dreamed of or you have filled your appointment book, you have to move on to new challenges.

Now that my own short-term goal of finishing this column is achieved, I am going to cross it off the list and start on something new.


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