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Achieving Professional and Career Goals Sooner Than Planned

Sarah A Scala, M. Ed & OD,  ACC
Estimated Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Ten years ago I read the book Smart Women Finish Rich, by David Bach. He has a revised version that came out last year. Ideas presented in the book are appropriate for both men and women. Initially, I picked up this book to learn about finances and money in my 20’s; however, I used concepts from the book to design a spreadsheet template for setting goals and planning how I want to live my life, professionally and personally.

As Peter Drucker said, "What get's measured get's managed."  I try to manage my life in a way that bring purpose and value.

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The first step Bach suggests, before you even start looking at finances, is to define your Values. This became the first tab on my template, and after a lot of reflecting, I listed key values that are important to me. The next step Bach suggests is to identify your Dreams. These are long-term lifetime goals. Some of mine included starting my own company, visiting all the national parks in the United States, and getting great seats to a U2 concert. Still working on the seats. 

Once Values and Dreams have been identified, Bach asks readers to define 3- to 5-Year goals that could be personal, business, or financial. My template includes a tab which shows these Mid-term goals. After defining Values, Dreams, and Mid-term goals Bach suggests identifying Annual goals for the current year. I use this the template for this task, and make a new tab with the year number each New Year’s Day. Having done this for 11 years, I am able to look back at my progress and accomplishments over the past decade.

Categories for my Annual Goals often include (YOURS MAY DIFFER):

  • Interpersonal and Relationships

  • Career and learning

  • Healthy lifestyle

  • Money savings and retirement

  • Giving back and philanthropy

Using this template, each month I look back at my Annual goals to see how I am doing, and evaluate my progress. Goals that I am doing well on are highlighted in green; goals that are moving, but not quite there, are in yellow; and goals that I need to focus on are in red. I have found this to be an excellent tool to hold myself accountable in achieving goals while supporting my Values.


When I feel overwhelmed with work or life and I question my use of time, I can easily go back to this template, and take a look at the goals that I've set out for in my life. I keep a printed copy on my wall in my office above my desk.  

Benefits to this approach for goal setting and development planning
Over the past decade, the personal benefits I have gained by using this approach and template include:

  • Establishing my own successful business five years before I had initially planned to

  • Reaching Financial Milestones earlier

  • Successfully traveling to certain global locations including Scandinavia and New Zealand earlier than I had initially planned

    Photos from my 2017 Trip to New Zealand - Bucket List Item.

Marie Forleo interviewed David Bach in 2015 on her show, MARIE TV, about this book and the impact it has had on her life and career. Click here to watch her 40 minute episode.

What tools are systems have you used for goal setting and self-development? 

Please share in the comments. If you have specific questions, ask me. I'm happy to help.  

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