“A goal without a plan is just a wish”.
Antoine de Saint Exupéry
Phew, the first month of 2018 has passed and you’re still here.
The month of new year resolutions has also passed and now it’s safe to store them away for another year and pretend they never happened, right?!
Or maybe you’re one of the few people who made a resolution, and for the first time ever, has been very conscientious in making it happen.
If you are, I salute you and am cheering you on to keep going.
The beginning of a new month is an excellent time to pause for a while and take stock of your previous month.
I think it’s so important for our mental well-being to take this time to reflect on our successes, our failures, our proudest moments, our least favourite moments, what we’ve learned and what we want to improve. It’s an essential part of goal-setting, staying focused and accountability.
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The trouble with goal setting, though, is that when we set goals we tend to set long-term goals (6 – 12 months).
Don’t get me wrong.
We need long-term goals, especially if what we want to achieve is going to take time – run a marathon, lose weight, get fit, improve your presentation skills in English, write better business emails in English, handle conference calls confidently in English, achieve your business targets.
However, it’s not enough to set a long term goal. You need to set the right long term goal, otherwise you’ll soon lose the momentum and motivation to achieve it.
You’ve set yourself the goal to lose weight by the end of 2018. And you’re going to do it without going on some expensive diet, but to do it slowly and naturally. Excellent.
You start the year super motivated, but pretty soon your enthusiasm fizzles out when you don’t ’see’ visible results. After a few weeks, you tell yourself it’s no use and give up.
Let’s analyse what went wrong.
You didn’t set a specific and measurable goal from the start. When you set your goal of losing weight, you didn’t tell yourself how much weight you wanted to lose. Without a real figure to focus on, you couldn’t measure your progress.
Without a real number, how could you possibly measure your performance? It’s like when your boss sets you a business target at work. Your performance and bonus will be measured against that target. That gives everyone a clear focus. You know what you need to achieve to get your bonus and even a promotion.
Don’t say: “I want to lose weight by the end of 2018″.
Say instead: “I want to lose 12kg by the end of 2018.” You now have a clear goal that you can measure.
However, this still isn’t enough.
12 kg is a lot of weight and will take time to lose, especially if you’re not going on some drastic diet.
What you now need to do is to devise a plan where you take small steps that you can spread out over the year. And that means setting small goals.
12kg in a year means losing a 1kg a month.
Suddenly losing a 1kg a month is not as daunting (scary) as first thought. It’s totally doable with a combination of exercise and healthy eating.
What a relief! I don’t have to starve and be miserable trying to lose weight.
Suddenly, you feel much more motivated because you can visualise losing 1kg in one month. How powerful is that?!
Now let’s apply this to your Business English goals.
Don’t say: “I want to improve my Business English skills by the end of 2018.”
That’s far too vague.
A runner doesn’t say I want to run better by the end of 2018. Better than who and what?
The runner says “I ran 1200 km last year and this year I want to run 1800 km.” There’s a start and a finish = a clear goal.
- First, you need to decide what business English skills you want to improve.
- Then you need to work out what your starting point is and where you want to finish.
Here’s an example:
Business Skills: I want to be a better business presenter in English.
What I can do NOW – I can give a 5-minute presentation in English fairly comfortably.
What I want to do by the end of the year– I want to give a 60-minute presentation comfortably and confidently.
You now have a clear, focused goal.
The next stage
You now need to break this year end goal into 12 equal parts and work incrementally.
➣ By the end of month 1, I want to give a 10-minute presentation.
➣ By the end of month 2, I want to give a 15-minute presentation.
And so your progress continues until you can give a 60-minute presentation and enjoy it. Like in your weight loss programme, the small increases are doable, less scary and far easier to achieve.
As your confidence grows, so does your courage to present in English for longer each month. You can visualise yourself speaking for longer and that’s empowering.
Before you know it, you’re your company’s star presenter.
As one of your fellow EWATers said, over time your IMPOSSIBLE becomes I’M POSSIBLE.
Over to you
- What is/are your Business English goal (s) for 2018?
- Have you broken them down into small, measurable goals?
- One month on, how’s it going?
- What can you do now that you couldn’t do a month ago?
- What’s February’s goal?
- How do you plan to achieve it?
Thank you for reading and listening. Until next week.
PS If you think a colleague could do with some motivation, please share this post with them.