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How to set goals that make you grow professionally

Updated: Jun 29, 2020

We're halfway through 2020, the perfect time to check-up on your goals for this year, to review them, or to set new ones!

In this post we'll help you clearly define goals that will help you grow professionally and get you started with an action plan that will enable you to reach them! If you're a team leader, this post will help you to guide your team members with defining their own goals and to follow up on those with them throughout the year!

The difference between objectives and goals

Goals should not be defined by someone else - not your manager, not your peers - but by YOU. Professional objectives on the contrary are basically tasks or KPI's that your manager wants you to reach this year or the next 6 months. It's important to also set goals, next to objectives, when making your personal development plan. Goals are things you personally want to achieve, such as I want to become a skilled facilitator, I want to improve my communication towards the people I work with, I want to have more creative freedom in my job, I want to stand up for my opinion and beliefs more regularly.

When you do so, you have the opportunity to also work on your professional growth and to work in the domains that you're really passionate about. Of course, these goals can be - and ideally are - linked to your professional objectives. For example, if you want to have more creative freedom in your job, you can do this by asking some more freedom to try out different things when working on your tasks. When you want to become a better facilitator, you could organize workshops around your professional objectives, where you can practice your facilitation skills.

Why is it important to set goals?

Goals help you to grow. By taking time to think about what you want and on which topics you want to develop yourself, you shift your focus, time and effort towards these things. You basically give yourself a purpose. A purpose that you really want to achieve and that you stand behind. Having such purpose gives you the drive to keep going and motivates you to become a better version of yourself. It helps you prioritize all of your tasks and to do-lists and gives you guidance on how to behave and work in order to grow in the domains that you want to grow in. All of this will in the end improve your performance and will make you an active contributor to a pleasant team environment.

When - as a team lead - you spend time and attention on your team members' goals, they will feel supported and their trust in you will increase.

How to define your goals?

Enough theory, time to get started and help you clearly define your goals! We've created a working template in pdf to guide you step-by-step in doing this. Quickly confirm your email and name here and you'll get the download in your mailbox immediately!

How to get started to achieve them?

Once you have clearly defined your goal, it's crucial to think about how you can reach it. As you may know, nothing worth having comes easy, so you'll have to put a little effort in it! This part is also included in our template!

What's important to remember is that many small steps give confidence and keep you motivated to keep going! Make them very concrete and small enough so that you can imagine yourself doing it. If not, there's a big chance it won't happen. Don't forget to celebrate your successful baby-steps on the journey towards your goal! You can be proud of yourself every step on the way, however small it may seem!

How to follow-up on them?

When you're trying to achieve your goals it's important to actively pursue them and review your progress regularly. There are two main reviewing-pillars: self-reflection and feedback.

Take some time at least every month to evaluate how your sub-goals that month worked out.

  • Did you manage to take action?

  • What worked well and what did you struggle with?

  • What can you learn from your successes and struggles for next month?

Important! If you notice your actions don't work, change the approach to reach the goal, don't change the goal itself!

If you work with others or if your goal is linked to working with others, it's always useful to ask their feedback as well. Did they notice you did something differently this past month? What did they like about it? What do they see as improvement points? If you know that you have difficulties following up on your goals or things you commit to, it's a good idea to work with an accountability buddy. Someone that you meet with every month and who keeps you accountable.

If you're a team leader, integrate this feedback moment in face-to-face meetings you have with the team member. What's important when giving feedback is that it's done in the right way. By giving feedback wrongly, people on the receiving end of it might end up feeling less psychologically safe to talk about this with you in the future. When consistently done right however, the person will over time feel more psychologically safe. This article helps you on how to give feedback correctly!

If you're as a leader incapable to give feedback yourself, because you don't work with the team member on a daily basis, you can still guide them through their self-reflection with the 3 above questions.

Hopefully this blogpost helps you forward in your professional growth or in guiding your team members in theirs. If you're interested in setting up a structured way to coach your team to continuously grow, feel free to book a free call with us or contact us through our contact page.


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