Are You Setting Professional Goals for the New Year? Read This!

If there’s one common theme that I generally hear from clients once December rolls around, it’s the desire to set goals and intentions for the upcoming year. This year in particular, I’ve found that the pull to want to turn the page to have a fresh start is greater than ever before.

It’s almost an understatement to note that 2020 has posed a lot of unique circumstances for all of us. From the challenges posed by dealing with anxiety over Covid-19, to managing a remote team, to responding to the push for a more inclusive work environment, this year has definitely provided many stretch opportunities for professionals.

Although we continue to have a somewhat uncertain road ahead of us, if you’re interested in setting professional goals for the new year, then read on. In this article, I’ll cover many of the most common developmental areas that I see people working on, along with plenty of resources to help you to accomplish your objectives.

Become a Better Leader

Given that I’m an executive coach, I work with a lot of individuals who want to develop their leadership skills. If this is the year that you decide to make the commitment to become a better leader, I recommend starting by reflecting on your leadership strengths and opportunities. Whether you take a quiz, a more formal personality instrument, or get others’ feedback through a 360 survey, understanding yourself more fully as a leader will enable you make sure that you’re leveraging your key strengths intentionally, while also shoring up the areas that would benefit from further development.

Some common areas of focus for leaders include delegating appropriately, putting more of an emphasis on coaching direct reports, boosting morale, or enhancing their ability to inspire others. If you’re not sure where to start, consider taking my Inspirational Leadership University course. In it, you’ll be able to take a deep dive into comprehensively developing your skills as a leader, across the next few months. You can learn more about it here.

Improve Your Soft Skills

To be honest, I’m not wild about the term “soft” skills, because it seems to suggest that these skills are secondary in importance to technical competence. The truth is, emotional intelligence is critical for success – research suggests that it makes you a more effective leader, enhances your relationships, and is even correlated with increased income.

If you’ve been told that you could stand to improve your  soft skills, some areas of focus could include learning to better manage your emotions, developing greater patience, improving your listening skills, and being more intentional about building relationships at work. With concerted effort in these areas, you’ll likely achieve greater success in your current role, and may just position yourself for a promotion.

Develop Your Time Management Skills

For many of us, it can feel as though we have too much to do, and not enough time to do it. If you’re in that camp, and you’re in a position in which you can delegate to others, it’s worth it to start by doing an inventory to ensure that you’re assigning tasks that can suitably be delegated to others.  

Once you’ve done that, if you’ve still seemingly got too much to do, then you might want to investigate ways to become more productive. Whether it’s coming up with strategies to be more efficient while working from home, setting up your environment so you won’t be distracted by your electronic devices, or developing a mindfulness practice so that you’ll develop your ability to focus, it’s a good habit to periodically determine if there are ways that you can work smarter, as opposed to harder.

Also, as you’re working on improving your time management skills, keep in mind that more time spent working isn’t always better. Workaholism can create its own set of problems, so make sure to strive for balance.

Manage Your Stress

In this day and age, another common area of focus for professionals is stress management. The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America survey found that 78% of Americans reported that Covid-19 was a significant source of stress, with almost 20% reporting that their mental health has gotten worse over the past year. 

Stress can not only make it harder to function at top form in the workplace, it can also chip away at our sense of well-being, (That’s probably why I’m so passionate about teaching others how to cope with pressure in the workplace). If you’re committed to managing your stress more effectively this year, you’ll want to make sure to establish a consistent self-care regimen that includes adequate sleep, exercise, and healthy nutrition. Practicing gratitude and meditating are also helpful tools that are linked to lowering stress. 

To further your stress management efforts, it can also be helpful to determine the root causes for your stress, so you can tackle them head on. Even little tweaks in your environment can make a big difference across time.

How to Increase the Odds that You’ll Accomplish Your Goals

Once you’ve gone through the process of identifying your development targets, you’ll want to increase the odds that you’ll actually achieve them. Therefore, as a first step, you’ll probably want to create a development plan for yourself. By putting some thought into steps that you’ll take to accomplish your objectives, you’ll have a plan of attack that will pull you forward. This article, in which I outline the practical strategies that will help you to make your new behaviors a habit, will also be a good resource for you as you think through your plan.

To increase your odds for success, you’ll also want to build in some accountability for yourself.  This article will help you to assess whether you would benefit from an accountability partner, and this one provides strategies for getting the most out of that relationship. You might also decide that you would like to make the investment in working with an executive coach, such as myself. If the prospect seems a little overwhelming, here are some tips for selecting one. (And, if you’d like to explore working with me, click here to schedule a complimentary Discovery Call).

Mother Teresa said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” 

What will you begin today to move you closer towards your goals?

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