Every year, my team gets together to review their annual business plans. Each year, they formulate an individual plan of goals and objectives to meet within the next year. They …


But goal setting and planning are valuable for anyone interested in advancing in their profession or business. Think about where you want to take your future and plan accordingly. Think of specific, measurable objectives to meet those overarching goals and have someone hold you accountable.

In addition to being specific and measurable, goals should be realistic and timely. They should focus on improving processes, increasing job efficiency, or acquiring or improving job skills. For job seekers, once you start thinking in this mindset, you can transition these goals to different positions and leverage this ability to future employers. For businesses, this is, of course, a common but often overlooked practice. For our team, we focus on SMART goals—those that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

In order for Greater Lansing’s citizens to grow professionally, it will take more training and education to supplement their current experience and knowledge, regardless of the field. The world in which we work and live is constantly evolving, and we must do the same. On our team, my staff is encouraged to keep learning regardless of age or how many degrees they have. As a result, they are working on everything from social media classes to finishing up master’s programs to leadership seminars.

And here in the region, we are perfectly poised to push people toward educational success. Greater Lansing is a cornucopia of education and training opportunities whether someone wants to earn an advanced degree or take noncredit courses. For instance, Michigan State University offers lifelong education programs and Lansing Community College offers continuing and community education courses.

Don’t know where to start on setting goals for your job search? Attend one of the Capital Area Michigan Works! orientations to learn more about our services, potential funding opportunities for schooling and free classes. Orientation dates and times for all three service centers can be found at More information on Michigan State University’s lifelong education classes can be found at or visit for information on their continuing education courses. And for businesses, keep an eye out for free or inexpensive workshops, conferences or webinars that might be offered—an underutilized benefit of becoming a member of organizations or clubs.

A 2010 Your Child study showed attitudes toward education are shifting for the positive. Now, 38 percent of parents said getting a good education was essential to getting ahead in life, up from 27 percent in 2007 and 2005, but it’s still not enough. Efforts such as Keep Learning…Our Future Depends On It are essential, and take years to move peoples’ perceptions, but every company and every individual plays a role. Setting goals and taking advantage of the resources to help you achieve them in Greater Lansing is the least each of us can do.

Doug Stites is the chief executive officer of Capital Area Michigan Works!, a network of resources that partners with businesses to develop recruiting and retention strategies and partners with job seekers to enhance education and career opportunities. On the Web at He is also a steering committee member of Keep Learning… Our Future Depends On It, a coalition of government, education, media and business committed to doubling the number of college graduates in Greater Lansing. On the Web at



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