4 Steps to Gaining Control Over Your Career

Do you ever feel like you’re living the adage “when it rains, it pours,” as a stay at home working mom? Whether you’ve experienced a positive windfall, or negative downpour, it’s easy to lose sight of which activities are most beneficial to growing your business, when you’re being pulled in several directions. As a result, you work like crazy—but have no idea where the time goes, or what it’s worth.

One way to counteract such chaos is by setting clear goals—and sticking to them no matter what. In short, it’s the key step in taking control over your career—or letting it control you! Here’s how.

1.    Solidify short and long-term goals. Short-term goals typically span one to 180 days. Long-term goals should address the dream scenario you envision, both for your life, and your business. Create a list that defines both types, and use very specific, measurable language to describe each. For example, instead of “grow business this year,” or “get on the shelf of a major retailer,” your goals might be “obtain three new clients that bring in at least X% profit, or “secure a meeting with the buyer at X store or boutique.”

2.    Make a habit of analyzing cost and benefits. Disruption is a part of the home office game, but the more you can eliminate, the more effective you’ll be in reaching your goals. Spending time purposefully starts with a simple cost-benefit analysis, used in tandem with your goal list, to determine what activities “pay off,” and which won’t. Your analysis can be a detailed formula of monetary figures, or as simple as making two columns on a sheet of paper, to outline the benefits of any given activity, compared to the costs, including materials, fuel, your time, and lost opportunities to pursue other activities.

3.     Compare activities to goals.  Evaluate your task and project list weekly, and highlight all the tasks that don’t “match up” to a stated goal. Are there opportunities to streamline a process, or even outsource necessary but time-consuming administrative tasks? Sites like oDesk and FlexJobs make it easy to source virtual help, even when your budget is small.

4.    Measure opportunities.  It can be exciting to be invited to speak to a media outlet, or attend a conference or luncheon. It’s also too easy to feel like you “have” to attend industry trade shows or events—just because everyone else is. Go back to that list of goals and weigh every opportunity with the same scrutiny. Consider exactly how it contributes to your defined goals. With this stringent evaluation, you may find yourself saying “no” more often. However, you’re ultimately making better use of your time, to reach your desired end-point.