Why You Should Set Goals and Tips to Make it Happen

Image of Frank Salvatore
Frank Salvatore has been setting goals — and meeting them — his entire career..

Personally, I’ve been setting goals since early on in my career. Just to prove that to you, I can tell you that I was at one of my first Connecticut Society for Respiratory Care (CTSRC) board meetings back in the early ‘90s when the CTSRC president read a communication from the AARC regarding nominations for president, vice president, secretary-treasurer, and Board of Directors.

While that was being read, I looked to Nancy Merkouriou (her married name now, but not her name back then), who also was just appointed to the board, and said, “I’m going to run for AARC board or president someday.”

Well, as you are aware, I not only ran for Board of Directors, but served as secretary-treasurer and now am finishing up the presidential track as your immediate past president. So you can see, this is something I take seriously.

Top three reasons for setting goals

Organizations set goals, departments set goals, and so should you. Simply put, you need to have a plan that goes beyond get up, go to work, get paid, and go to sleep.

Goal setting needs to be invigorating in order to ensure you get where you want to be. Let’s face it, life is too short to just exist, so my mantra is, do something that not only matters to others but matters to you too!

So, here are three good reasons to set goals, professional and personal.

  1. Setting goals allow you to create milestones that you can reach for.
  1. Professional goals can lead to monetary advancements as long as those goals are to better yourself in a way that allows you to grow in your position and/or responsibility.
  1. Not all in life is professionally based. You need to remember that personal goals can be just as important. They can be as simple as getting involved in your community or faith based groups, or even just a personal goal that ensures your family life is well attended to.

Top three tips for setting goals

So those are Frank’s top reasons to set goals, but what about some tips on setting good goals? I can’t say the three you’ll see on the following list were created by myself. I’ve worked for many years in many organizations and have learned much about goals, and good ones at that. So, pardon me if you’ve heard these before, but in my mind they bear repeating.

  1. I’ve always like the acronym SMART when it comes to goals. To me this acronym puts it all into place:
  • Specific — you have a better chance of meeting a goal that is specific or, as some may say, answers the six “W” questions: Who, What, Where, When, Which, and Why.
  • Measurable — simply put, you know a goal is measurable when you can answer questions like these: How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?
  • Attainable — yes, it is great to “reach for the moon,” but how realistic is it? Setting attainable goals, even larger ones, means having steps planned out that will allow you to attain the goal.
  • Realistic — I could just say “see above” when it comes to this part of the SMART acronym, but in the end, you can set a high goal that is also realistic. You just need to make sure you’re willing and able to work the objective(s) that are needed to reach the goal. Sometimes it is easier to reach a higher goal because low goals tend to exert a motivational force that can be equally as low.
  • Timely — this one is important. You need to take into account a reasonable time frame. Look back at how I started this article. When I said I was going to run for the AARC board or president someday, I didn’t really have a timeframe. But think about it — if I said I’d do it in five years, that probably wouldn’t have been a realistic timeframe. I still needed to serve at the state and national levels to establish myself as a possible leader for the profession and organization. So be realistic in setting your timeframes and don’t be afraid to have five year, ten year, or even longer goals.
  1. I think it is important to have fall back goals when it comes to professional or personal goals that entail getting elected. I’ve been lucky in my life to have won every election I’ve been in since the one for student council president at Immaculate High School in Danbury, CT.

I know, though, that this isn’t a realistic expectation, especially now that I’m dabbling in politics in my hometown. Life comes with ups and downs, or in some cases, wins and losses. You need to be prepared to get up, dust yourself off, and move on.

  1. Remember to look at your goals frequently and be prepared to adjust them as you achieve goals or find that something isn’t achievable in the timeframe you thought it would be. You list of goals needs to be thought of as a living document that can be adjusted as needed. And you shouldn’t look at those adjustments as failures. Sometimes even the simplest goal takes on a life of its own and needs tweaking.

One thing rings true

I hope this article helps you in your professional and/or personal life. In my years of being involved professionally as a respiratory therapist and as a member/leader of a volunteer fire company, church leader, and family man, I have been fortunate to interact with others who’ve taught me more than I can give to you. So many individuals have touched me with their stories and anecdotes about their lives.

In the end, though, one thing has rung true. They’ve achieved it all by having a goal in mind. That in itself tells me that setting goals is an important part of our being. So whether you’re considering professional or personal goals, do it, because achieving them is a feeling that I can’t even put into words.

I wish you good luck on setting your goals, and thank you for all you do for our patients and profession.

Frank Salvatore is administrator of ancillary services for the Greater Hudson Valley Health System in New York and immediate past president of the AARC.

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