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A Common Practice
Setting goals at work is a common practice, but making sure those goals are effective and rewarding can be a challenge. Many set goals around the new year and seek self improvement by ditching bad habits and (hopefully) gaining healthy ones—just look in a crowded gym during the first few weeks of the year and you’ll see how motivating new goals can be! However, all too often these goals fall by the wayside for a number of reasons and become ineffective.
Setting and achieving goals activates the reward centers of our brains, and reinforces good habits to help us progress. However, not all goals are as rewarding as others. Here are a few tips (and a fun acronym!) to help make sure your goals propel you to new heights of success.
How to Set Goals at Work
Make each goal you set relevant to achieving a particular thing. Do you want to set a goal for professional development? Lear about SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and within a set time frame) and start making improvements to your goals for work. Do you want to be a better cook? Setting a goal to read a biography of a cooking maestro might not be the most relevant goal. How about setting one to take a cooking class, or to try a new recipe each week? Relevance in goals is important to keep you on track to achieving something masterful.
Being exact in your goals and what you want to achieve can help you achieve more. For example, setting a goal to be more fit is not as effective as setting a precise goal for how fit you want to be—such as “run a mile in under 8 minutes” or “participate in a yoga class three times a week.”
Most of us gain weight over the holidays because of all the delicious food, but that’s not quite what we’re talking about with weighable goals! When something is weighable it can be measured. Being able to measure your progress through achieving specific plans is integral to effective goal setting. Consider the following: “I’d like to be better at my job so I’m going to learn a new skill” vs “I’d like to improve my job performance, so I will attend conferences, read books, and collaborate with my manager at least once a month to measure my progress.”
This can be one many of us struggle with because often our goal-setting eyes are way bigger than our goal-achieving stomach. While goals are inherently there to stretch us, make sure you don’t set goals that are near impossible to achieve (or at least don’t set goals without a specific plan how to achieve them). Goals that stretch us, but are still achievable, engender greater confidence as we achieve them.
This might be a stretch but go with us on it for a minute—a recognized goal means that you told somebody about it, and they recognized you’re working towards something. This recognition is important because it provides accountability and gives you someone that can help you achieve it. Recognition has many benefits, and accountability with goals is certainly one of them.
Defined goals are time-based goals. Without a plan, which includes a schedule, goals may be lost to the ether and never materialize as solid, achievable milestones. Make sure that each goal you set has a definite parameter of time, both for when you will achieve it and the steps you will complete by a certain date. Definite goals are much more effective than indefinite goals.
What Are Good Personal Goals for Work?
Setting professional development goals is a great way to further your career and ensure continued growth, but how do you choose which goals to set?
Setting goals with inspiring objectives and defined key results is important to achieving greatness in whatever you do. When you decide you want to do something, frame it in a way that inspires you. Do you want to achieve a certain metric at work? Reframe that goal into something like "Become the best at (insert metric here)." Then, as you plan out your bite-sized key results, think about what will help you reach your goals with actionable steps—steps you can take on a daily basis.
When setting personal goals at work, remember to choose something inspiring, then make it achievable through small steps every day or week. Just like the old adage says, when you're trying to eat an elephant you have to do it one bite at a time (though why you'd ever want to eat an elephant is beyond us).
Whenever you set goals, remember to keep the big picture in mind and REWARD yourself with effective goal setting strategies—you’ll see even greater success as you reach your goals and stretch yourself personally and professionally.