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Published on December 23, 2020

3 Workplace Goals To Set For Professional Development

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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.

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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.

How To Relax Quickly When You Are Addicted To Work 4 Effective Ways To Collaborate With Your Team 3 Workplace Goals To Set For Professional Development How to Network on LinkedIn (6 Dos and Don’ts)

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Published on September 16, 2021

What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

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What Are Process Goals? (With Examples)

Ready. Set. Go. For years, this was my three-step mindset when it came to goals. I would reach for the moon and hope to land among the stars without feeling the pain of the fall. This approach was all or nothing, and as a result, I experienced loads of burnout and almost zero productivity. In short, my task list was filled with high-level intentions, but I hadn’t taken the time to create a map to reach the destinations. I was lost in the planning stages because I didn’t understand process goals or have any examples to follow.

Since then, I’ve learned how to embrace the journey and break my outcome goals into smaller and more manageable process goals. This approach has improved my focus and reduced frustration because I’m now working towards a surefire strategy that will take me where I want to go––I’m creating a plan of action with achievable daily targets (a process goal).

What Is a Process Goal?

A process goal is not a destination, it’s the path you plan on taking to get there. For example, if you want to become better at writing, your process goal would be to post one blog article per week and learn from the feedback you receive. The destination is a monthly goal of 12 articles.

This distinction is important because it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that these types of goals are not all or nothing. Think about it. You’ve heard it said: it’s not about working hard but working smart.

Well, a process goal is an actionable target with what we call SMART criteria:

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  • Specific – The more detailed your goal, the better. For example, instead of “I want to be fit,” you would say, “I want to lose five pounds.” Make sure your goal is crystal clear.
  • Measurable – You need a way to measure progress and success, so it needs to be quantifiable. This is where you decide what “fit” actually means for you (more on this later).
  • Achievable – If your goal isn’t challenging, then it’s not going to be motivating. On the other hand, there must be a steeper mountain to climb if you want substantial results.
  • Realistic – “I want to run a marathon” is not practical for most people. Ensure you have the time, energy, and resources (e.g., training program) required to achieve your goal.
  • Time-Bound – Your goal needs an assigned deadline or it’s just a pipe dream. There’s nothing wrong with dreaming, but what happens when the fantasy ends?

To summarize, these are the essential components of any process goal: specific, measurable, achievable within a certain time frame, and realistic.

What Is a Destination Goal?

A destination goal is a point in time when you plan to be at a particular destination. For example, if your goal is to get to represent your country at the 2025 Summer Olympics, you right need to focus on smaller increments to attain that success. On your way to that goal, you need to focus on smaller destinations. First, make the national team. Then, compete in a few events and so forth.

If you try to make it to the Olympics from the very start without any milestones along the way, it would be too daunting. On the other hand, if you focus on each milestone as a destination goal, it will all seem possible and achievable.

Process Goal Template

Let’s say you want to become a better cook. Here is one way of writing the process goal: “I will save $100 per week by cooking all my meals at home for 12 weeks.” This would be your destination (monthly), and the steps required to achieve this goal (weekly) would be:

  1. Spend one hour on Sunday planning my meals for the week.
  2. Shop for groceries after work on Monday and Tuesday nights.
  3. Cook all meals at home on Wednesdays through Sundays.
  4. Pack my lunch for work on Mondays and Tuesdays.
  5. Save $100 per week in cash by cooking at home.

This process goal will help you become a better cook by teaching you to save money through planning, shopping, cooking, packing your own lunch, and trying new recipes. It also includes a weekly reward (saving $100 in cash) that will help you stay motivated.

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Process goals encourage you to reach your ultimate goals. When you feel like you can accomplish smaller goals along the way, you gain sustainability and confidence to move forward.

In many ways, process goals are a lot like faith. Each accomplishment brings you closer to seeing the fullness of the life that you desire––it breaks through the fog and makes things clearer.

What Questions Helped Me Find My Process Goals?

After several years of setting lofty goals and becoming increasingly frustrated when I wasn’t getting the results I wanted, I decided to take a closer look at my approach.

Now, there are many ways you can do this, but here’s how I went about it. Last year, I asked myself the following questions:

  • What am I doing right now?
  • How can I get better at this?
  • Is this process goal leading me closer to my ultimate goals?

The choices I made from the answers to these questions became my process goals. They were the driving force that kept me motivated and moving forward when I wanted to give up and throw in the towel. Since then, I’ve been able to accomplish lifelong goals that I had given up on years ago. For example, I’ve been able to obtain a publishing contract, create more digital products for my business, and enjoy the moment.

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Before I broke down my goals into smaller ones, I was struggling to just get out of bed. The thought of my endless list kept me stagnant. Now, I look forward to each morning and taking on smaller projects to reach profitable outcomes.

What Are Some Process Goals You Can Try?

So, now that you understand the importance of process goals, let’s get you started with some examples that you can utilize this week:

  • Sign up for a new class.
  • Complete one portion of your project by Thursday.
  • Start walking around the block instead of running a mile.
  • Improve your writing by spending 30 minutes everyday journaling.
  • Practice your interview skills.
  • Read at least one book from the library this week.
  • Do ten push-ups each day before you leave for work.

You get the idea. These process goals don’t have to be complicated. If anything, you want to break down your plans to the point of them feeling easy or at least doable without needing a week’s vacation. By breaking your goals down into smaller pieces, you can accomplish a lot more in a shorter period. You’ll also feel more confident that you’re able to accomplish something within the moment.

It isn’t easy to continue towards your goal if achievement feels too far away. You need to celebrate the small things and embrace the process.

What Do You Need for Process Goals?

Think about how much time and money you’ve spent on new clothes, books, technology, etc. Many of us want to keep up with the latest trends and purchase the best gadgets from Apple or Microsoft. But all of these extra investments come at a steep price.

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To find your process goals, you may have to face some difficult emotions or situations bravely and confront them head-on. You might need to forgo the new outfit or the latest Mac book to meet your overall objectives.[1] Remember, process goals not only protect you from feeling overwhelmed, but they also keep you from being distracted.

Final Thoughts

You may feel overwhelmed at first when trying to set a process goal. Sometimes, just thinking about change triggers stress hormones, which only leads to more worries and anxious feelings. However, if you keep yourself focused and take small steps in the right direction, you’ll soon realize that goals don’t have to be complicated.

You can achieve your process goals one day at a time, and you can start today by breaking down your larger goal into smaller steps. It doesn’t matter if the process takes a week or six months, what matters most is that you’re moving forward and doing something to make yourself better.

Now, go on out there and achieve one of your process goals!

Featured photo credit: Kaleidico via unsplash.com

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