Be successful on purpose

From the pages of In Business magazine.

To be successful, you need to set goals and take action. It sounds easy enough, but in the past, studies have shown that very few people have written goals. During my time in Madison, I have had the opportunity to speak to many business and community leaders. One question I love to ask is, “What are some specific things you have done professionally that have helped lead you to success?” By far, one of the top answers is having written goals they review on a consistent basis. 

The owner of a company I worked at several years ago was (and still is) very successful and wealthy. On my first day, he called me into his office and said, “I have a very important question for you.” I sat anxiously on the edge of my seat, paper and pen ready to jot down my first official task. “Do you have your goals written down?” Oh no … I must have missed an email that spelled out my first assignment. He must have noticed the panicked, confused look on my face, because he then continued, “In order to be successful in this job, in your profession, and in your life, you need to know where you are and where you want to go. Write down your goals and the path will become clear as to what you should do next.” 

He then opened his top drawer and pulled out a piece of notebook paper with several categories and individual goals written under each one. He told me how every day before he checked his email, attended to clients, or even turned on his computer, he took a few minutes to review his goals and make sure during that day his actions reflected even the smallest steps he needed to take in order to accomplish the goals he had set for himself and his business. This short meeting taught me one of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned. Anything is possible with a goal and a plan. No matter how successful you become, consistency with seemingly simple routines (like writing down and reviewing your goals daily) will continue to separate excellent from average.

Although I can’t guarantee you will reach every goal you set, by setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound) goals and taking even the smallest action steps to achieve them, I guarantee you will be better off than when you started. For most people who are successful, it did not happen by accident, but by purposefully taking action to get where they wanted to go.



Here are your Fast Track Action Items for April:

  • Create three to five SMART goals for your personal and professional life this month, one year from now, and five years from now. If you are really ambitious, you can also set daily and weekly goals.
  • Write these goals down and keep a copy where you can see it every day. Next to your computer, on your bathroom mirror, in your top desk drawer, or as the first appointment on your Outlook Calendar (my personal favorite). Just make sure they are visible daily so they stay top of mind.
  • For each goal, write down the first three action steps you need to complete in order to reach the goal.
  • By the end of this month, take at least one action step to work toward each goal.

Email me at to let me know what some of your goals are and what, if any, stumbling blocks you are facing. 

Jenna Weber is the president of CONNECT Madison, a young professionals group offering development, community engagement, and relationship building-opportunities to local business leaders.

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