When we break down the science of setting goals, a few things are clear: Goals should be measurable, relevant to how you want to progress in the short and long term, attainable, and bound to a period of time. And setting new goals for personal development periodically will help you grow in your career, whether you’re an intern, a C-level executive or anyone in between.
People who ordinarily perform at 50 percent end up with an 80 percent success rate when they introduce goals to their work ethic, according to MIT professor and researcher Don Sull. And if you go just a little beyond setting goals — either by getting feedback or making those goals public — it’s even more likely you’ll achieve them. Fitbit found that its users take 43 percent more steps on average than those who aren’t counting their steps with a Fitbit. We can grow our own success, even with something as simple as taking more steps each day, if we simply set a goal and make our progress public.
Here are four personal development goals you should set (and stick to).
1. Determine what “crushing it” means to you.
Once you know what your top priorities should be, it is easier to stay focused throughout the day. Consider asking your supervisor or a peer to collaborate on your goals and provide feedback on your progress.
2. Meet new colleagues.
Today’s workplaces stress the importance of collaboration, so it’s a rarity if you’re not at least occasionally colliding with folks outside your department. Get a jump start by grabbing a cup of coffee with a peer you rarely interact with. Take time asking him or her about their role. Learn what makes other people successful. Ask questions like, “What would you do if you were in my job?” to understand how they thrive. You’d be surprised how much you can learn and feel inspired over a cup of coffee.
3. Learn your company’s goals.
Only 55 percent of middle managers can name any of their company’s top five priorities, and their direct reports know even less. Regardless of how transparent your company is with its short- and long-term goals, you can always ask. Try conversing with your supervisor about what his or her long-term goals are, or make it your goal to participate in conversations about the future of your industry. The more you know about your company goals, the easier it is to understand how your work and contributions matter.
4. Hold a friend accountable for something (and vice versa).
Personal development doesn’t have to happen at work and should never happen alone. Sharing your goal with a peer will get you further than going solo. Try setting a three-month goal with a friend and hold each other accountable to that goal. Whatever goal you set, tell someone about it.
It’s time to start thinking and setting your goals more frequently.
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