How focused are you?

Jan 13, 2020 14:22:58 PM

Development goal setting progression Wellbeing Month

We have invited some budding writers to create some content we can share on our website and social media. Our first guest blogger of 2020 is our Head of SME Operations Ava Lewis on staying focused and setting goals – thank you Ava!

ava 1 - How focused are you?
Ava, Head of SME Operations

We all overindulge at Christmas, or is it just me? What I also like to do in the Holidays is find time to reflect on the previous year, and plan for the year ahead. When wanting to progress in your career, it is essential to set your sights high and have a clear understanding of the path ahead. Before I joined MarketMakers 8 years ago (wow, that’s gone by too quickly!), setting goals had never even crossed my mind, though I could have progressed a lot more effectively if they had. Since my journey began in goal setting, I now understand their importance and value.

Goal setting can be used for every element of your life; work, family, finances, health and fitness etc. When creating goals for yourself, ensure they are measurable (SMART is a useful way to set achievable goals), and be sure to write them down!

Harvard MBA programme study

A study conducted by the Harvard MBA programme in 1979 found that only 3% of the new graduates in the study had clear goals that were written down. When they revisited the respondents again in 1989, it was found that the 3% were earning on average 10 times as much as the other 97% put together. That 97% either had no specific goals, or had goals that were not committed to paper. Having a clear plan on your goals is vital to success, so tracking them on a daily, weekly and monthly basis is a great way to stay on track. I use a simple spreadsheet to track my goals but there are lots of tools online designed to assist with goal setting.

I used to speak to people outside of work who were sceptical about goal setting and thought it was cheesy. For me, they provide the motivation to progress and achieve what I want to accomplish. Although some people prefer to keep moving forward until they either give up or hopefully achieve their desired outcome, it’s about finding what works best for you.

Nielsen Media Research Inc.

Nielsen Media Research Inc. reported that on average, people watch over 32 hours of television each week. If this sounds familiar, I encourage you to try this for a month and see how you get on:

  • Utilise 5% of this time (1 – 2 hours) to set yourself some tangible goals.
  • Try and make them SMART.
  • Write them down.
  • Pick something you regularly neglect that you wish you didn’t. This could be walking 10,000 steps per day, reading a chapter of a book, tracking your calories or even taking a vocational course.

A word of warning, goals will require self-discipline and focus. Some of you are trying out Veganuary, some of you Dry-January and others maybe both. I have opted to remain a carnivore, instead deciding to cut out alcohol and chocolate (what was I thinking?!). I naively embraced this goal thinking it would be easy.

At the time of writing this, I am heading into week 2 and it is going well, despite my partner’s best efforts of distracting me with chocolate every night. I set this goal to not only lose some extra pounds I may have gained over Christmas, but to challenge myself. It’s really important to do things out of your comfort zone and try new things, after all what do you have to lose? You may even learn something new about yourself.


Some key advice when setting goals is to remember to write your goals down, work out who can support you, include timescales and ensure they are realistic. Making yourself accountable is also a good way to remain on track, posting your goal on social media is a great way to drive positive behaviour to ensure your goals are met. I will always ensure my Team Managers are aware of my plans and welcome the same in return.

During my 8 years at MarketMakers, I have progressed from Team Manager to Head of SME Operations. This has been aided by my focus on goals. It’s easy to become stagnant both in your professional and private life and there are many events that can trigger this. Goal setting can help with this and it is really beneficial to set them early in the year; the Christmas period may be an obvious time to reflect and plan your goals, although this can be anytime that suits you.

Now I am not perfect, I have had years where I haven’t set goals and just got through the year month by month. During my reflection over Christmas I would question what I have achieved this year, have I progressed or am I still doing the same thing? On several occasions the latter, which proved to me why having a strategy is important. What dawned on me more than ever this year is ensuring I set the right standards for my team, in the hope of them developing their own goal setting, development and standards throughout the business.

If you want to make a difference you have the chance to, take the time and make a change.

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