“Would you tell me, please which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where – ” said Alice
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
– Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Every year I like to set goals for myself to make sure I’m making progress in what matters. This year I thought I would refine my goal setting process based on some new ideas I picked up from the book Never Eat Alone. The book recommends using something called a “Networking Action Plan,” which I think is much better then simply setting S-M-A-R-T goals. The process is as follows:
1. Find your passion
Look inside – make an honest self assessment. List out your goals and dreams, put down a brain dump of everything. Then make a second column with all the things that bring joy and pleasure to your life. For example consider your favorite hobbies, magazines subscriptions, and books you read for leisure.
Look outside – ask others what your greatest strengths and weaknesses are.
Compare these two lists and find the overlapping areas that combine your passions and strengths. Overlapping areas should steer the focus of your goals as you align your personal and professional interests.
2. Put goals on paper – write down your networking action plan
The objective of the NAP is to put together a plan while thinking through all of the baby steps you need to take in fulfilling your grand mission. Start with long-term 3-year goals, then work backwards in both 1 year and 3 month increments to develop mid and short term goals that will help you reach your mission. Under each time frame, create an A and B goal that will meaningfully contribute to where you want to be 3 years from now.
As you create your A and B sub-goals – be as specific as possible. Connect goals to places, people, or things that will help you get the job done. In developing your NAP also consider the best way to reach out to people who will help you accomplish your goals, whether its through classes, conferences, or cold calling.
3. Create a personal board of advisors
The last step is to make sure you hold yourself accountable. It’s really hard to make above average achievements when you are doing everything alone, so a best practice is to find 2 – 3 experienced and enlightened people that can act as both cheerleader and eagle eye supervisor, who will hold you accountable to pressing forward. This can be family and friends, any person who understands your objectives and is unafraid to give honest and direct feedback.