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Good Goals (What, why and how of goal setting for administrative professionals)
Would you like to keep doing your job just as you're doing it now until you retire? Are you totally satisfied with your job or career? If you answer 'yes' to either of those questions, don't read any further in this article. Why? Because this article is for career administrative professionals who either want to move up the career ladder or who want to stay put on their current rung but widen it to accommodate new adventures and endeavors. Only continue reading this article if you are an administrative professional...
By Karen Fritscher-Porter
AdminAdvantage - DeskDemon US Newsletter ... who never wants to be bored on the job.
...who wants focus in his or her professional career.
...who wants to excel in the administrative support profession.

If you meet any OR all of those three criteria, you're ready to learn about goal setting. It's a trite short phrase. But if set and implemented correctly, goals are what will give you satisfaction on the job. Professional goals are the reason you will not just get out of bed to go to work but rather the reason you will get out of bed to go to work "with eager anticipation". Really!

"Setting and achieving career goals is a key requirement to career satisfaction," confirms Debra Behler, owner of Kick Start Careers in Fort Thomas, Kentucky. A former 20-year administrative support professional, Behler now coaches administrative professionals in resume and career techniques (

Develop an Attitude
Get excited about goal setting. Don't dread goals or the goal setting process. It's all about attitude and perception. Perceive goals as simply new challenges and adventures that will keep you from getting bored on the job.

And when you succeed in completing a goal, you'll find it personally satisfying to say "I did it"---even if it's just to your spouse, a friend or yourself. And every time you complete a goal, you'll feel more serene internally too because goal completion boosts your self-confidence (and even your self-esteem sometimes).

Develop the Right Goals
So just what type of goal gives you this "high"? Well, it's not necessarily the kind of goal completion whereas your boss says "I want the xyz project draft completed in two days." Sure that's a goal. And you have to set specific objectives to meet it. And if you complete it on time in two days, your reward is you get to go home on time (and keep your job for another day). But completing the xyz project draft for your boss is a specific project goal.

The goals that are going to give you the warm, fuzzy feeling (and possibly the chance for advancement in your career) are of a different sort (not necessarily project goals though meeting those is important too in order to retain your job). Here are several goals that Behler suggests will keep you progressing in your career:

Earn a certification relevant to your field, such as CPS, CAP or MOUS.

Earn a college degree. Investigate applying any CPS, CAP and CEU credits toward that degree. [And don't use age as an excuse if you're not freshly graduated from high school; these days the nontraditional age student is fast becoming the traditional college student.]

Assume a leadership role in an organization on a work team. For instance, have you ever considered joining and participating in the International Association of Administrative Professionals (

Become bilingual. For example, learning Spanish could make you indispensable in your current or next job if many customers or employees there only speak Spanish.

Find a mentor. Then meet with him or her bimonthly to discuss your career development. [And as you learn, reach out to take on the leadership role of mentoring someone else.]

Revamp your image, literally. An image consultant can advise you whether or not you look the part of a contemporary business professional and if not, how to look more so. A professional appearance speaks volumes on the job.

Meet X number of people annually that you normally wouldn't encounter. How? Attend a Chamber of Commerce or other business organization networking event. [Some of these people even could be your next boss or mentor.]

Attend at least six conferences, seminars or dinners with a keynote speaker whom you admire professionally.

Enhance your presentation skills. One way to do this is by joining Toastmasters International ( Presentation skills help you to communicate better with others, whether as team leader or project manager.

Update your resume (at least annually). You'll be prepared if a new career opportunity presents itself.

If any goal stated above fits into your professional (or personal) development scheme, grab it and run with it. But feel free to add other goals to that list too. For instance, your goal may be related to how much money you'd like to earn over the next five years or where you'd like to be standing (or seated) literally in three years. This is YOUR goal list. Take ownership.

Now for the Hard Part
Goal setting is the easy part. Were you one of the many who stood up in elementary school and
Random Trivia
More than a third of all adults hit their alarm clock's "snooze" button each morning — an average of three times before they get up.
responded to the teacher's question about your future career with a response such as "I'm going to be president of the United States" or "I'm going to be a millionaire"?

If you were, you're not alone in that response or that unmet goal. Again, goal setting is the easy part. It provides you with a chance to dream and visualize about what you want to be or know or do in life. But you've got to have a plan (objectives or small specific steps) that enables you to meet the goal. So do a big brain-dump with your initial goals. But then apply yourself to setting and meeting your ultimate goals. Here's how:

STEP 1: Develop a professional goal that you can control. "Goals should be 'SMART'--specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and trackable," Behler says.

STEP 2: Put it in writing. "A goal not written down is just a dream," Behler says. "Unless you clarify what it is that you want to achieve, it remains kind of nebulous. You don't think about the steps that you need to take to prepare for that goal. For example, saying 'I want to be promoted to executive assistant' or 'I want to get my degree so I can move into management' won't help you see what needs to be done to get there."

STEP 3: Make a timetable for your goal. "For example, 'I want to get a college degree someday' becomes 'I want to get a college degree within the first six months of year 2006,'" Behler explains.

STEP 4: Break your goal into manageable bites [objectives]. For earning a college degree in 2006, a bite might be "I will investigate the requirements for attending two local colleges and one Web-based college to help me make an informed decision about where I want to earn my degree," Behler says.

STEP 5: Review your progress. Earlier, you made a timetable on a spreadsheet (or just wrote a list on paper). Where should you be in three months toward earning that degree? And now it's three months later; have you even registered for classes? A timetable that includes your goal, objectives and actual progress enables you to track and see if and how you've advanced toward achieving that goal, Behler explains.

STEP 6: Share your goal with others as suitable. Telling someone about your goal may provide you with accountability (just as writing your goal on paper made it real and concrete). If you've got a friend or mentor who will prod you periodically [hold you accountable in meeting your goal], that's great, says Behler. But if you just have a friend or mentor who says "gee, that's a great goal," move onward, she advises. That's a nice and supportive response but not helpful in the long run. You want someone who will occasionally ask "what have you done toward your goal?" says Behler. And you don't want anyone not in your camp, she warns. Not everyone wants you to succeed, even if their intent is not malicious. Don't choose to share your goals with a naysayer or skeptic (even if you're related to them).

When do you set Goals?
Now. Year round. Goals don't have to be set and ready on January 1. Goal setting should be a flexible plan. If you miss a goal, start again. Every day is a new day. If your plan (objectives) isn't working, regroup, rethink and revise it. It's okay.

And don't be surprised if when you start reaching some of your goals, heads turn and associates try to pinpoint why you seem different to them. When you meet goals that enhance your professional (or personal) development, it shows from the inside out.
About the Author
© 2005 Karen Fritscher-Porter

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Karen Fritscher-Porter is the publisher and editor of The Effective Admin, a FREE monthly e-zine for administrative support professionals who want practical tips to advance their career and simplify their daily job duties. Learn more about The Effective Admin and sign up today to receive your FREE issues full of helpful career and workplace tips at