Reflect on this. What would happen if you chose only one professional goal to focus on this year? Just one. If you spent a few hours a week working on your goal, how would you be transformed by the end of the year?
This type of goal seems different than a New Year’s resolution. A goal is not a vague idea or wish. It is more specific and can be broken down into smaller chunks, making it more achievable. A goal provides a way for you to focus, to be inspired and motivated.
“Goals help you to achieve what you want and feel the satisfaction of self-improvement. It’s easier to know what to work on and what merits your attention. If you spend your days working on the right things, the things that add value and help you achieve your goals, you’ll achieve the goals more quickly,” writes productivity coach, Ciara Conlon in Productivity for Dummies.
Choosing a Professional Goal
How do you choose a goal? Tune in and reflect. Listen to the little voice that wishes you knew how to do something, how to create something or were better at something. Tap into your desire for making, changing, helping, expressing or finding meaning. Could any of these ideas be something you’ve been thinking about?
- Read or listen to two books a month
- Learn better focus through meditation
- Become competent in a new software program
- Intentionally grow your personal learning network
- Learn how to sketch note two hours a week for a year
- Practice public speaking at regional events
- Become a mentor to one person
- Start a community of practice at work
- Build a website and blog
- Improve your photography or video skills
- Start a daily journal about the progress you’re making
Reverse Engineer It
I heard someone say that to plan for success, you must visualize success. Imagine what achieving your goal looks like and feels like. Can you see it? When you’ve got a good sense of what success is like, begin to reverse engineer it. What will it take to achieve your goal?
Write down your goal. Then break it down into practical action steps. To be sure that you consistently take action, make it a habit. Consider the habit stacking strategy—that is, tie the steps to an existing habit.
In his book, Atomic Habits, James Clear writes about this. “One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top.”
You pair the habit with an existing one, such as, after drinking coffee, you will meditate for 10 minutes. Or after your weekend exercise routine, you’ll spend an hour in self-directed learning.
If habit stacking isn’t your thing, then schedule time on your calendar to work on your goal. Set the calendar to notify you. This is as an appointment with yourself to benefit your future self. You don’t want to break it.
Track Your Progress
For many people, measuring their progress becomes a motivating aspect of reaching a goal. Track your daily, weekly or monthly commitment using a paper calendar or a habit-tracking app, like Streaks, Momentum Habit Tracker or Mindset.
Now that you’re getting inspired to pick a professional goal, don’t overdo it. By choosing only one goal, you can maintain your focus and simplify your self-improvement efforts. Feeling motivated? So am I. I promise to stay committed to my goal if you do.