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Published on December 23, 2020

3 Workplace Goals To Set For Professional Development

3 Workplace Goals To Set For Professional Development

There is a mountain of reasonable workplace goals you could set to fuel your professional progress. Manage a new project, expand your influence, and improve time-management are a named few. But the most important of the goals will help you develop into a courageous leader.

Now, more than ever, organizations need leaders who have adaptive and cognitive skills that can help position their businesses for the future. They need leaders who possess interpersonal and emotional skills that will allow them to foster relationships among cross-functional digital teams and help younger leaders thrive in a constantly shifting (corporate and non-profit) world.

Your organization needs you—to step up and step into your greatness as a leader. So, this year, when you dust off your previous performance review to reassess old workplace goals and prepare yourself to select new ones, be sure to prioritize pursuits that align your efforts to the needs of your business.

To help you get started, here are 3 valuable workplace goals you can establish and practice every day to help you navigate through uncertainty and lead courageously.

1. Take a Risk, Every Day

On the surface, setting a goal to take one risk each day may not seem like a serious or impressive aim. But don’t be deceived—it is a powerful, foundational action you can take to propel you down the path of becoming a better leader.

Risks are central to courage, making risk-taking central to courageous leadership. Risks are defined as situations involving exposure to danger or difficulty.[1] And those difficulties can manifest in the workplace in a physical, social, or psychological capacity.

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Since we’re biologically wired to avoid danger, we can easily register risk-taking as antagonistic and maybe even unnecessary. But taking risks also paves the way to growth. In fact, psychologist Abraham Maslow believed that people who actualize their potential make risk-taking routine. They choose growth over fear consistently.

Being a courageous leader means choosing growth over fear consistently. When you make a habit out of taking risks, you get consistent practice in acknowledging, settling into, and taming discomfort. The leader who hasn’t practiced being uncomfortable may find current workplace challenges—that call for radical innovation, company culture overhauls, and upskilling employees—too overwhelming to address. That leader may double down on the status quo to avoid failure or keep quiet to circumvent humiliation. But when you’ve built up the ability to be uncomfortable, you better position yourself to instigate change.[2]

Your commitment to taking risks every day is mutually beneficial for you and your employer. You walk away with self-discovery, improved skills, and expansion of your comfort zone. Your employer increases its ability to fail-fast, innovate, and transform itself into a courageous organization.

The professional risks you take on daily do not need to be blockbusters. In fact, you should start small. Smaller risks provide opportunities to flirt with the unknown, interpret emotions, and evaluate outcomes in low-stakes environments. They help you navigate within uncertainty without exposure to grave danger. Having success with small risks allows you to build upon those successes with larger risks involving larger consequences (and rewards).

I have found that there are two main ways you can fulfill a workplace goal of one risk a day. You can move through your day with a heightened awareness of what causes you discomfort and choose at the moment to take a risk, or you can plan your risks out each week. If you have a larger goal that you’ve set, you can identify smaller risks within the goal to tackle each day.

2. Ask More Questions, Every Day

Curiosity has been hailed as one of the most critical qualities a leader should possess. It is a strong desire to know or learn something and, in today’s workplace and economy, there’s a lot to learn. Employers need leaders who ask more questions.

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You may think that this is an easy enough action and doesn’t require being made into a workplace goal. But think again. Your brain is wired to make assumptions—to settle on what you think you already know.[3]

A common assumption you can make in the workplace is to think that things really are the way that you see them—that there’s no room for growth or that the procurement process will never change. Without asking questions, this assumption could prevent you from discovering creative solutions to an underlying problem.

Another assumption you may hold is that the way you feel about someone is the way they actually are. This assumption, if left unchecked, could lead you to misunderstand your teammates and complicate collaboration. You might even assume that you are smarter than someone who doesn’t share your point of view. Without probing for information, this assumption could prevent you from folding in other people’s perspectives and gaining a better world view of a challenge.

Making assumptions is a way for your brain to conserve energy because assumptions offer an efficient way to process your environment.[4] But to become a better, more courageous leader, you’ll need to challenge your assumption by developing a rhythm of asking questions.

Curiosity fosters openness, creativity, growth, achievement, and learning.[5] On top of that, asking questions—for clarification or discovery—creates an entry point into intimidating conversations that you may have otherwise avoided. Your workplace goal to be more curious also has lasting benefits for your company because it invites awareness of external pressures, creative problem-solving, high-speed adaptability, and better decision-making.

There’s no right or wrong way to ask more questions. You do, however, want to be mindful of the energy you attach to the questions you ask out loud, in front of people. A line of inquiry that comes in an overly combative, intrusive, or trivializing way may unintentionally deplete this goal from the goodness it offers.

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3. Make Meaningful Connections, Every Day

In an increasingly electronically connected workplace, personal relationships are essential. How often do you shoot off a text, email, or Slack message to a teammate without concerning yourself about whether you are connecting personally?

Setting an everyday workplace goal to make meaningful connections with colleagues can help you build critical relationships that cultivate trust, respect, and compassion—even as you challenge each other.

What qualifies as meaningful? Experiences, conversations, or other exchanges that provide value and have meaning to both people. In fact, meaningful connections often include elements of vulnerability because when you really connect, you expose your need to be seen, heard, and accepted. That, in itself, is an act of personal courage.

On the other hand, connections that are transactional or asymmetric (beneficial to only one person) come off as superficial and dishonest. It is especially important to be vigilant over the execution of this goal to ensure that attempts to connect do not turn into empty efforts to check a box.

In my experience as a manager, I’ve seen that a personal connection goal can benefit teammates who have a fast-paced, competitive work-style and are more focused on projects than people. This type of goal can also help more passive employees prioritize relationship-building in a way that feels honest to them.

A workplace goal focused on connection can assist you in showing up in relationships more powerfully and intentionally and help people to believe in you. In addition, your ability as a leader to better connect with your team helps your company better address the needs of and care for its people.

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Setting a goal to make a meaningful connection every day doesn’t mean that you need to scheduled daily Zoom calls with a different team member to get face time or ask them about their weekend. The only shift you may need to make is to purposefully elevate and personalize the conversations you are already having.

The Bottom Line

There are an endless amount of workplace goals you could set for yourself in the next month or year. But the ones you should prioritize are those that help you become a more courageous leader—a leader who faces professional challenges for reasons that are worthwhile to their companies (and themselves).

As you consider which goals you will etch into your next performance review and work toward for the months to come, consider the following three key ideas.

First, take a risk every day. Being a courageous leader means choosing growth over fear consistently. When you make a habit out of taking risks, you get consistent practice in acknowledging, settling into, and taming discomfort.

Second, ask more questions every day. To become a better, more courageous leader, you’ll need to challenge your assumption by developing a rhythm of asking questions. Curiosity fosters openness, creativity, growth, achievement, and learning.

Last, make meaningful connections every day. A workplace goal focused on connection can assist you in showing up in relationships more honestly, powerfully, and intentionally and help people to believe in and follow you.

More Tips on Setting Workplace Goals

Featured photo credit: ConvertKit via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Candace Doby

Speaker, author and coach helping young leaders build courage in themselves.

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

6 Ways to Finish Strong (When Your Momentum Is Low)

6 Ways to Finish Strong (When Your Momentum Is Low)

There are times in your life when you will have to define a path to achieve your goals. These are moments to decide how you will push through to finish strong.

Will you give up or give it all that it takes? Will you bring all your energy and skills to bear or provide an excuse? The only person that possesses the power to choose your response is you.

It may sound impossible anytime you hear the phrase “finish strong.” This is because your natural tendency would be to settle for the status quo or accept fate, and when you are facing life’s biggest challenges, you may face the temptation to quit or compromise your standards.

The story of Tyrone Muggsy Bogues will inspire you. He lived in abject poverty while his father languished in prison. He was hit by a stray bullet at age five and grew up to be 1.6m tall[1].

All these challenges did not deter him from becoming the shortest player in the history of the National Basketball Association. Tyrone had 6858 points, 1369 steals, and 6726 assists all through his NBA. career. Just like Tyrone, you should not allow life challenges to stop you down from finishing strong.

Here are some fun facts to buttress why you need to push through the end:

  • Most of the points scored in football occur a few minutes before the game ends.
  • The last seconds in a race determines who wins as every runner wants to give the most effort.
  • You work harder when there are deadlines to meet.

Here’s more proof of why the finish is highly significant. People rate the quality of life higher when it ends better, not minding if it was short. This is often called the James Dean Effect[2].

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These five proven steps will enable you to finish strong if you already have goals you want to accomplish.

1. Write Your Goals Down

A study revealed that people who write their goals down have an eighty percent chance of finishing strong[3]. You can create a Goal Journal or adopt the S.M.A.R.T goal technique.

Don’t forget, your goals have to be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic
  • Time-bound

While it might look like an additional task to write down your goals instead of storing them in your memory, there are more sides to it.

Two things happen when you write something down:

You are documenting the goals on paper, which makes it easier to assess and audit in the future. Neurologists believe you will recollect visual cues more compared to non-visual cues.

Furthermore, you are encoding those goals as they travel to your brain’s hippocampus, where analysis takes place. From that point, sorting happens. Some goals are stored in your long-term memory while others are discarded. Writing facilitates the encoding process, so write down those goals!

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2. Break Your Goals Into Milestones

Breaking down goals into small bites will help you celebrate your small victories. You need that momentum to finish strong.

For instance, if you are writing a book, you can:

  • Write the book concept or blurb
  • Conduct keyword and content research
  • Create an outline
  • Write the content
  • Edit and proofread
  • Format and publish
  • Market the book

Establishing milestones provides you a clear format that will help you not burn out when working on your goals. Moreover, milestones are those actions you need to take to finish strong.

A study conducted by Gail Matthews shows that those who write their goals have a 33% chance of actualizing them compared to those who only have their goals in their brain[4].

3. Build Momentum

As I stated earlier, you need momentum to finish strong. You can gain momentum when you meet each of the milestones. In his book, Darren Hardy recommends consistency as a sure way to generate all the momentum[5].

How do you build momentum by being consistent? Hardy recommends five actionable steps:

Establish a Morning Regimen

According to Hardy, you may find it hard to take charge of your mid-day, but you can determine how you start the day and end it. Therefore, design your rise-and-shine routine. Do your Most-Important-Task (M.I.T.) in the morning.

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Morning routine to finish strong

    Create an Evening Schedule

    Hardy defines this period as when you cash out on your day. It is a moment to assess if you have accomplished all you wanted to that day. You can ask yourself these questions:

    • Which items do I need to carry over to the next day’s M.I.T. list?
    • What item on my to-do list is still relevant?
    • Which of the tasks do I need to cancel?

    Restructure Your Routine

    It can be boring doing the same thing over a long period. Therefore, inject some excitement into your plan. Visit the park, prepare new food, or take a short, online course. Shaking up your routine will naturally assist you in building momentum.

    Keep a Log of New Habits

    Track new behaviors and log the number of times you perform them. That way, you can compare your goals with the outcome.

    Avoid Negative Self-Talk

    What you say affects how you finish your goals. Positive self-talk is a time-tested method to set goals and follow through. Any time you doubt your ability to finish strong, respond with positive affirmations.

    Do not bow to negative pressure to give up. Control your thoughts, and do not permit external forces, such as fears and doubts, to control them. Here are ten positive affirmations to help you finish strong.

    5. Find a Mentor or an Accountability Partner

    You need all the support you can find to stay the course. A lot of successful individuals attribute their success to the influence of a mentor or an accountability partner.

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    The right mentor will offer you insight, advice, and connections to help you finish strong. A mentor’s role is to guide you on self-reflection and help you ask self-discovery questions.

    Here are ways to maximize mentorship:

    • Be curious: Ask questions that provoke deeper thoughts.
    • Be honest: Feel free to share your challenges and be open to feedback.
    • Be punctual: Be timely and stick to appointments.
    • Be specific: Establish what you want from the relationship.
    • Be respectful: Respect should be mutual. You should respect the boundaries set by your mentor, and your mentor should do the same.

    You can read more on How To Get The Best Out Of Mentorship.

    Bonus Tip: Engage the Self-Awareness Technique (S.A.T.) to Finish Strong

    It is not enough to be an enthusiastic starter; you must also be an optimistic finisher. What is self-awareness? Self-awareness is getting in touch with how you feel and think. It could also mean connecting to your core values and beliefs to live a life that aligns with them.

    Self-awareness can help you figure out your strengths so you can focus on them. It also helps you discover your weaknesses. The moment you accept what you can’t achieve, you will bring together all of your strengths to achieve what you can.

    An HBR report confirmed that when you have a clear picture of yourself, you can be more confident and unleash your creativity. You will also build long-lasting relationships and communicate better[6].

    Final Thoughts

    As you assess the aspects of your life, you need to finish strong, take time to study your past achievements, and apply the lessons to the last phase of your present pursuit.

    Always remember, you have all it takes to finish what you started.

    More Tips on Completing Your Goals

    Featured photo credit: Ethan Hoover via unsplash.com

    Reference

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