You don’t need a New Year’s resolution to set in motion a positive change in your life. However, you do need to set goals and put a plan into action. Many times we are not taught to set goals. Yes, we may find ourselves dreaming about a better vacation, getting out of debt or owning a business when the boss asks us to work yet, another weekend. But effective goal setting is more than just talking or dreaming about what you want to accomplish. There are specific steps to successful goal setting. Here are some guidelines to help you establish your goals and achieve them.
The foundation to a goal begins with a want, desire or a dream. First of all, you must search yourself for the wants, desires and dreams that you have and select those that make the most sense for you to accomplish. Even though you may want to take a cruise around the world, does it make sense to go on that cruise this coming year or are there more important things to do? Only you can evaluate your personal situation. Now that you have decided what you want to do or change in your life, you must write these down on paper. Writing helps cement these specific goals into your brain and makes them available for constant review.
What turns wants, desires and dreams into goals is adding a time frame for accomplishing them. Without a time frame, you may never start taking the appropriate actions you need to accomplish your goals. A time frame will help keep procrastination away. For each of the goals you have written down, select a completion date. Be somewhat aggressive here. If you are feeling a sense of urgency, then you will be more apt to stay focused and work through any obstacles.
Take your goals and make an outline of each step needed to make that goal a reality. Write your plan down. Break your plan into “bite-size” accomplishments. For example, if you want to change positions at your job and this new position requires experience in a new software, then you need to first register for the classes, then take them and finally complete the classes. You can celebrate each “bite-size” accomplishment. Let’s say you want to lose weight so create a diet and exercise program to lose 20 pounds. Remember, “bite-size” actions…so set a plan to lose the 20 pounds over 40 weeks; basically a pound every two weeks.
Have your goals where you can access them at any time. Put them on your computer, put them in your planner, put them in your purse, put them in your car, put them everywhere so you can review them to make sure that you are directing your actions toward the accomplishment of these important goals you have set for yourself. Reviewing your goals often helps keep them on the forefront of your mind. Remember your Mother saying, “out of sight, out of mind”, this is true for your goals. If you are not constantly reminding yourself about what it is you need to do, then you will fall victim to failure. Written goals without action are worthless scraps of paper. No plan can be accomplished without you making the necessary actions to achieve it. With your goals in hand, you can judge every action you take to determine if it will help you accomplish your goals and if necessary make small tweaks along the way to keep you on track.
What does the future hold? Will you have those things that you dream about or will you settle for what you currently have? Only you can decide. WHY NOT make this the year for a positive change in YOUR life and those you love. There is no BETTER time than now!
You may not have thought about this, but everyday you use your negotiating skills. Have you ever asked the plumber to discount his repair bill or asked if there are any special room rates available at the hotel you’re planning to stay at? Have you ever interviewed for a position or asked your boss for a raise? In every example you NEGOTIATED your position in an effort to better your situation. There is nothing wrong with using different means to improve your situation. However, many times in our careers, we pass up great opportunities for a promotion or a raise or to work on an exciting, high profile assignment because we don’t: 1) SEE the opportunity to ask for a better situation or 2) we don’t feel comfortable ASKING for the better situation. As a side note, sometimes number 2 leads to number 1 because we aren’t on the lookout for good opportunities since we are not planning to act upon them even if they come our way.
If we were more confident about our sales skills (yes, it boils down to just plain old sales), we can control our destiny rather than allowing other people (like our boss, our coworkers, and yes, even the plumber) to be in the driver’s seat. You may think you don’t have the “makings” of a super sales person, but successful negotiating can easily be broken down into these simple elementary steps:
Do your homework! Gather all the facts BEFORE you start negotiating. Anticipate questions and know the answers beforehand. For example, if you are asking for a raise, research the salary ranges of your particular position. If possible, make copies of the supporting documents to show them during your negotiations.
If you are contemplating asking for a raise here are a couple of web sites with salary information based on job title and location: http://www.salary.com/ (a bit cumbersome, but has good information) and http://www.indeed.com/ (simple to use, but less comprehensive information).
This is one of the secrets to successful negotiating. It is natural to start arguing with the other person when they disagree with you – Fight the Urge! Arguing with someone only puts them on the defensive. If the other person is upset and on the defensive, they are no longer “open” to hearing what you have to say – you’ve lost. When the other person disagrees with you (anticipate this will happen), GET on THEIR SIDE. Example: If your boss says, “I can’t give you a raise, because your coworker, Aiden, didn’t get one”. You say, “You’re right. Aiden may not have gotten a raise and you had a very good reason why he didn’t. In my situation…..”
This is especially crucial if you are negotiating numbers such as determining your starting salary at a new job (to be prepared beforehand you can use the salary websites referenced above to help determine your potential salary range). The problem with establishing the starting negotiating number is that you may come in too low or too high, but you will never know until it is too late. If the other person “shows their hand” first, you will be able to establish the range in which you can negotiate. Whenever anyone starts negotiating, they have a range in mind and they will always start at the bottom of that range. Once you know that number, work your strategy around it. If it is near your number continue negotiating. If there is a large gap, move away from negotiating the number and keep building your case with more facts.
It is important to establish the bottom number you will accept…and STICK WITH IT. If you don’t have a number in mind before you start negotiating, you will find yourself accepting a lower number than you wanted to. It is easy to get caught up in the negotiating process and lose track of the purpose of your meeting.
In most negotiations, there must be a winner and a loser. However, sometimes you can have a “Win-Win” situation, by conceding to divide the difference between your number and the other person’s number. This way both parties feel like winners, because they did not have to completely give up their positions. Many deals have been saved by offering to “split the difference”. If you can accept the midpoint and you feel the negotiations are stalling, OFFER to split the difference. Most reasonable negotiators will accept your offer.
As you can see, successful negotiating does not take any “magical” skills – you don’t need to be a super salesperson to get what you want. Just apply these simple steps to both your professional and personal life and we will MEET YOU AT THE TOP.
The key to securing the position you want is showing your potential employer that you are the most qualified candidate. It is not about how great your resume looks or what you did at your previous job, but how you will solve their problems. Only half the battle is won at the interview. The final winning blow is dealt at the end with your follow up letter.
It is quite obvious that you will be promoting your skills and work experience during the interview, but make sure you walk out of the meeting with a clear understanding of what the specific job responsibilities are. Because an effective follow up letter does not just thank the interviewer for his or her time and consideration, but also reconfirms each key qualification of the position and explains how each one will be met by you.
Before you leave the meeting make sure you have the interviewer’s business card. You will need their full title and the correct address for your follow up letter. If you interview with multiple individuals make sure you have business cards or contact info for each one. Right after the interview (you may want to do this in your car before you leave the premises), quickly jot down some notes about the interview. Include everything from the specific job qualifications to the idle chitchat about their favorite sport.
If for some reason you do not have the contact information for one of your interviewers, no problem, call the company and speak with an Administrative Assistant. If you explain to the individual that you had just interviewed with a certain person at the company and would like to send a follow up note, you should not have any issues getting their contact information. Also, don’t forget to confirm the correct spelling of their name and their title.
Although a written mailed letter is preferred, an email is acceptable. The follow up letter or email must be sent out the day of the interview – basically within 24 hours. Start the letter off with a short comment about something you discussed outside of the job, like a common love for a particular sport or some comment about their recent vacation (hopefully, you “broke the ice” with some fun, casual conversation). This will immediately put a smile on their face as they read your letter.
Next outline the key areas of responsibility of the position you are applying for and show them exactly how you will fulfill their needs. Then end the letter with a statement about how much you are looking forward to working with them. Keep the letter short and to the point. In this dog eat dog world, sending an effective follow up letter or email will make you rise to the top of the list of prospective candidates and will strengthen you negotiating position when it comes to salary, benefits, and extras such as signing bonuses.