I’ve met many people lately who say they don’t set New Year’s Resolutions. I suppose it’s easy to understand why when research shows that most people give up on their resolutions within a few weeks. However, you can’t reach big goals without knowing what you want to achieve and a plan to get there. Hopefully, this article will help.
A Google search will provide you with result after result on how to set goals. But clearly, the challenge to success isn’t so much in making a goal as it is in continuously doing what needs to be done to achieve them. Still, good goal setting is the first step. Here’s how to set your work-at-home goal:
1. What is it you want working at home to achieve?
The reality is, most people don’t want to work from home specifically. Instead, they want something else they hope working at home will provide. For example, I wanted to be home with my kids but couldn’t afford to live on my husbands salary alone. Working at home was the solution. For other people it’s the desire to be their own boss or leave a bad work environment. For others it’s needing a flexible work situation due to illness or caring for a love one.
Why does this matter? It matters because goals are meant to motivate and inspire. But in many cases, working at home is a solution to achieve another goal. In that case, working at home in and of itself isn’t going to be very motivating. Instead, the result you want from working at home will be the thing that inspires you to keep at it. When your efforts falter, it’s easy to give up on the solution (working at home). The answer is to focus on the goal (i.e. being home with children or affording your retirement).
2. How can working at home achieve it?
What is it about working at home that makes it the best solution for you? Does it offer flexibility? More pay? Work you enjoy?
3. What work-at-home opportunities will help you reach your ultimate goal?
This is a crucial question. Not all work-at-home situations will give you the situation you need. For example, some telecommuting jobs have a set schedule and require you to have childcare. If your goal is to be home with the children, a telecommuting job may not be the best solution. As you make decisions about what work-at-home option to pursue, you need to keep your end goal in mind to make sure the choice you make will help you achieve what you want.
4. Outline what needs to happen to reach your ultimate goal.
Goals are finish lines. But remember, your finish line isn’t so much working at home, but instead, whatever you hope working at home will help you achieve. In this step, you need to list what needs to occur for you to achieve your goal. If working at home is the solution, part of what needs to happen is to make a specific amount of money. However, there may be other things you need to do, such as pay off debt, reduce your expenses, buy a Winnebago, or whatever needs to happen so you can live your dream.
This step requires that you take a look at the gap at where you are now to where you want to be. Then you need to to list what you need to happen to make your goals come true.
5. What do you currently have to help you reach your goal? What do you need?
You need assets or knowledge to achieve your goal. Some of these items you probably already have, such as a skill or experience you can sell to an employer or as a business. Make a list of these, plus any equipment (i.e. computer) and other things you have that can help you reach your goal.
Next, make a list of what you need, such as training or a website.
6. Set SMART Goals
Odds are you’ve heard of SMART goals. For you to achieve a goal, you need to be clear on what it is and and quantify it so you know if you’ve achieved it. Saying you want more money is achieved if you make 1 cent more, but chances are that’s not what “more money” means. Instead, you need to say how much money you need.
S: Specific – What specifically do you want? In this case, your goal is the ultimate thing you think working at home can help you achieve. But also, as you decide on what work-at-home option you’ll pursue, you’ll set specific goals around that. Plus, you’ll want to set goals around what needs to happen (#4), such as how much money you need to make or how much debt you need to pay off.
Question to answer: Who, what, why, where do you want?
M: Measurable – You need to quantify your goal so you know you achieved it. That means having numbers or some other way to know you’ve crossed the finish line.
Question to answer: How much/many to reach the goal?
A: Achievable – Your goal needs to be something you can do. That means being able to break it down into it’s component steps so you can take action.
Question to answer: What actions are required to reach the goal?
R: Relevant – Your goal should should have meaning. Remember, it’s the fuel that will motivate you to continuously take action, even when things get hard.
Question to answer: Is this goal worthwhile? Does it fit my values and needs?
T: Time – You need a date by which to achieve your goal, otherwise it will sit out there as a wish, never getting closer to complete.
Question to answer: When will this goal will be achieved? When will I complete each of the steps to achieving this goal?
Achieving Your Goal
For most people, setting goals is the easy part. Often the goals are motivating enough to get started, but within a few weeks, the enthusiasm begins to wear off and the goal goes back on the shelf until next year. If you truly want to achieve your goals, make sure it’s inspiring to help you stay motivated. Here are other suggestions for staying diligent in achieving your goal.
1. Make a plan.
Goals don’t achieve themselves. You need to take action to make them happen. To do that, you need to know what actions you need to take and then make a plan to do them. A plan not only charts your course, but also, as you do the actions, you’ll have proof of your progress.
With your list of to-dos to make the goal a reality, and your time frame, plot out the tasks that need to be completed. For example, if you want a work-at-home job by March, you have to determine what jobs you’re qualified to do, you need to beef up your resume, you need to make time to do job searches, etc. If you want to start a home business, you need to decide what product or service you’ll provide, name your business, get needed permits, write a business and marketing plan, etc.
Check out WAHS’ Foolproof Plan for Work-At-Home Success for ideas and tips.
2. Get organized
You’ve already made a list of what you have and need to reach your goal. Now you need to get your ducks in a row so you can work on your goal. It’s hard to achieve something if you don’t have the tools and know-how at your disposal, so gather and organize your goal-kit. This is also the time to develop systems to help you achieve your goal.
3. Schedule your goal into your day.
Regular consistent action is the secret to achieving a goal. The only way that happens is if you make a commitment to it. Fitting goal-actions into bits of time that happen to come available during your day or week won’t work. Instead, goal to-dos need to be like brushing your teeth; something you do regularly. So pull out your calendar and decide when you’re going to work on your goals.
4. Anticipate and deal with potential problems.
What might stop you from working your plan? What can get in the way of your schedule? Make a list of things that have stopped you in the past and anticipate obstacles you might have in the future. Once you have your list, determine how you’ll prevent or deal with these problems. For example, if you know you’re not a morning person, but have decided to get up early to work on your goal, how are you going to deal with not feeling like you want to get up? If you have a lot of distractions from your family that make working at home difficult, how will you handle it?
5. Work your plan
You’ve made a plan, have your tools and systems, incorporated the to-dos into your schedule, and have anticipated problems. Now it’s time to get to work. Start doing the things you need to do.
6. Track and assess your results
Another reason many people give up on goals is that they don’t see results fast enough. While sometimes that’s because of impatience, other times it’s because they’re not paying attention to what’s working and what isn’t. You’ll reach your goal faster if you focus on the things that make progress and stop doing or tweak the things that don’t. But you can’t do that if you don’t know what they are. That’s why you need to track and assess. How many resumes have you sent? Have any had a response? Why or why not?
It’s not always clear why you get the results you do, which is where testing can come in. If your resume isn’t getting any response, is it because it’s not tailored to job or because you’re getting it in too late? An employer may not let you know why it passed on your resume, but you can test different options by changing your resume, or focusing on newly posted jobs.
7. Keep on keepin’ on.
Finally, the real trick to achieving your goals is to never give up. You have to keep working, evaluating, and tweaking your plan until you get what you want. You can’t let frustration or failure stop you. You have to take the lumps and set backs, and keep moving forward. If Thomas Edison can try 10,000 ways to invent a lightbulb, you can keep doing the tasks that are required to reach your goal.
8. Focus on the journey, not the destination.
Yes, you have a result you want to achieve, but there is evidence that while goals might inspire in the beginning, they can actually end up having the opposite effect in the long run. Goals highlight the gaps in where we are and where we want to be, which can depress and discourage us. So while you want to have a goal, put your attention on the steps it will take to achieve it. Don’t focus on the 1000 miles, but instead, on taking each step. By doing so, you’ll have a greater sense of accomplishment and feel like you’re making progress, which will motivate you to keep going.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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