With the holiday season approaching, a lot of us are looking forward to taking time away from our busy work lives and spending quality time with family. We all know, that following the holidays is a new year. This is a great opportunity to reflect on achievements from the past year and also start thinking about what to improve or focus on in the coming one. For many of us, New Year’s resolutions revolve around improvements in our personal lives – eating healthier, hitting the gym, or visiting family more often. But what about our professional lives? Now I know that the last thing on your mind during the holiday season is likely work, but similar to setting personal New Year’s resolutions, it can also be valuable to set career goals to work toward as well.
The Importance of Setting Professional Goals
Setting professional goals is instrumental in continued growth and success in your career; they give you a clear target to work towards and provide a scale on which to quantify and recognize improvements along the way. They also help you identify what is really important in your career so you can get clear on the bigger picture. Goals in the workplace can motivate you to work harder to achieve what you value as a professional.
Examples of Professional Goals
There are many different types of professional goals. Below are details of the types of goals you can set along with examples. You can use these for inspiration when thinking about your workplace goals for the new year.
Behavioural Goals: These are improvements to how you act. Behavioural goals for the workplace can translate to benefits in your personal life.
- Improve my ability to get tasks done efficiently (time management)
- Use folders in my inbox so I can find what I’m looking for quicker (organization skill)
Skills Goals: These goals are focused on improving your ability to perform a specific task. Improving your skill supports you in being more effective and efficient. It may involve sharpening a specific skill you already possess or developing an entirely new skill.
- Increased my knowledge of Excel features
- Learn how to write Java code
Performance Goals: This type of goal focuses on improving the fulfillment of your actual job requirements. They are outcome-based goals and often are number-oriented.
- Complete my project within time and budget
- Close x amount of deals each month
Career Progression Goals: These goals look towards professional development and progression to advance your overall career.
- Take on a leadership role in my organization
- Move to a senior performance level in my position
Using the SMART Framework to Set Professional Goals
Before beginning to work towards your professional goals, it’s paramount that you take time to think about what it is you are looking to achieve. One of the best and most widely used processes to set you up for success with goal setting is to follow the SMART framework. This method transfers nicely to workplace goals. SMART goals involve setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Specific: Your goals need to be very specific and clear. This provides the basis on which you can measure success. You’ll want to cover the who, what, where, when and why of your goal.
Measurable: Goals need to be measurable so you can quantify your progress towards your goals and indicate when it has been fully achieved. Measurable goals can be answered by questions such as “how much/many” or “how will I know when it’s accomplished”.
Attainable: This is one of the most important considerations of goal setting. Although you want to be ambitious, your goals must be realistic; what you are working towards needs to be an achievable task. If you set unrealistic expectations, you may become demotivated thus hindering your success. Start by creating an achievable goal (i.e., something that you know you can do). You can continue to adapt and set new goals once you’ve achieved the initial one.
Relevant: Your goals need to be relevant. If you are setting professional goals, the goals should surround habits, patterns, and outcomes that relate to your work life (and potentially your personal life). You should also be passionate about and committed to the changes you are looking to make.
Time-bound: There needs to be a target date or time set for when you want your goals to be achieved. This will help you to understand how best to pace yourself through completing your goal and will defer you from procrastinating or putting it off. Goals can be set based on how quickly you want to achieve them. Short-term goals are those that can be completed in the near future (e.g., finish my article by the end of this month). Long-term goals are those that will take longer and more work to achieve (e.g., getting promoted to a management position).
Tips to Successfully Achieving Your Goals
Once you’ve identified and outlined your goals using the SMART framework, it is time to work towards achieving them! These next steps are important considering only 8% of people achieve their goals).
To stay motivated and on track, you can:
Write down your goal somewhere you can see them every day: This helps to keep them in the forefront of your mind and reminds you of exactly what you are trying to achieve. Consider putting sticky notes on your computer at work or making a vision board that you wake up to every morning.
Tell Someone: Keeping yourself accountable for your goals can be difficult. By telling someone else about your professional goals, they can help motivate and support you.
Plan your first step: One of the most difficult parts of achieving goals is taking the first step. This is because it’s easy to fixate on the desired outcome, rather than putting thought into where you begin. To get started, identify a small, manageable step you can take right away to kick-start your journey.
Don’t be hard on yourself: Let’s face it, we’ve all created goals for ourselves that didn’t work out (92% of us in fact). Although you may lose focus or even fall off completely, that doesn’t mean you have to quit. Reflect on what caused the distraction, learn from it and then jump right back in where you left off.
Remember to celebrate: Every step of the way, no matter how big or how small the success, you should take time to celebrate your progress. This continued celebration of success will further motivate you to keep pushing toward your ultimate end goal.
Setting goals in the workplace is a worthwhile investment if you want to be successful in your career. By creating goals based on the SMART principles and ensuring that you are following through with them, there is no doubt that over the next year you will see significant professional growth and development.
Now it’s your turn to put pen to paper (or stylus to iPad) to set your professional goals for the new year.
Happy Holidays and let’s make 2023 the best year yet!
Laura is a Technical Recruiter at Jarvis Consulting Group. She helps bring together successful IT professionals to build effective technological teams.
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Jarvis is a leading IT consulting firm headquartered in Canada that provides total talent solutions with ongoing partnerships across North America’s top financial institutions, cutting-edge startups, and major technology companies.
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