How to set work goals that actually stick

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How to set work goals that actually stick

As we return to work life for the year, we conjure up an abundance of new goals and accomplishments we want to achieve. We want to continue our wins, as well as upskill and improve our processes from 2022. With this being said, there can often be a disconnect between goal setting, implementation, and action. We’ve all heard the statistics surrounding writing down your goals and how this directly correlates with the likelihood of success. However, this transcends further than just jotting them down as there are small practices and tweaks that you can action to ensure you set goals that actually stick. As our People and Culture Manager, Jessica Hill states, “Goal setting supports transparency and clarity for teams and individuals to align on what they are striving toward; for example, what does success look like? The start of the year is a great time to sit down and reflect on what worked well in the previous quarter/year and what goals or development are a focus for 2023.”

That’s where we come in, as we’ve created a list of the top seven ways to develop and implement your goals to ensure success from the get-go. Let’s make 2023 the best year yet!

1. Adjust your attitude and define your why

When we create and set goals it’s only natural that we get excited and swept up in the prospect of a more prosperous future. This is part of the fun that comes with goal setting, and we must continue to harness this optimistic attitude as we move into the planning phase. You may have heard buzzwords such as ‘manifest’, ‘positive energy’ and ‘high vibrations’, and while these words can be widely overused the principals remain the same. If you set positive intentions and a can-do attitude behind your goals you’re already setting yourself up for success!

In conjunction with this, it’s imperative to define your why. Why have you set these goals? Why do you want to achieve them? If you don’t know why you’ve set particular goals in the first place then it becomes challenging to continue working towards them during times of low motivation. 

We recommend taking a pen and paper and answering the following questions under each of your goals.

  • Why do I want to achieve this goal?
  • How will I feel once I’ve achieved this goal?
  • How does this goal align with my career progression? 

2. Create structured goals

If you’ve ever read a self-help book you’re likely familiar with SMART goals. SMART goals were created in 1981 to create clarity around goal setting, and its associated timeline. SMART stands for, specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. So when creating goals it’s important to take the time and ensure they not only meet the criteria for SMART goals but that you’ve planned out all of the intricate details. 

While this sounds like a lot of work, it doesn’t need to be. We implore you to take 20 minutes and write dot points under each of the points below, for each of your goals. 

S: Clearly state your goal

M: How will you measure your progress?

A: What is the first action you will take toward your goal? 

R: Is your goal realistic? Which hurdles may you have to overcome?

T: When do you want your goal to be achieved?

Alternatively, you can set OKR goals, these goals are mainly used collaboratively however can also be utilised by individuals. Setting OKR goals includes picking an objective, when picking your objective (goal), it’s important to think about where you can deliver the most value in your current role. The second step is to set key results, how will you achieve your objective? Lastly, it’s imperative to set owners for each of your key results, if you’re completing this framework individually the owner is apparent, however in teams to avoid confusion creating a sense of ownership strengthens your likelihood of success.

3. Make your goal visual

Like anything in life, if your goals are hidden away you’ll likely forget all about them. Therefore we recommend making them visual and putting them somewhere in your eye line at work. This could include, writing them on a sticky note and sticking them to your desk, or creating a vision board on a website such as Canva, and then making your vision board your desktop background. As recorded by Forbes, 76% of small business owners who used a vision board at the beginning of their journey, reported that their company had turned out the way they envisioned it.

4. Break it down, and break it down again

When looking at your goals they can easily become overwhelming and a clear path to success seems unlikely. On the flip side, you can also create milestones that seem more like mountains and deter you from wanting to work towards your goals. The way to overcome this is by breaking your goals down and then breaking them down again. The more you break your goals down into smaller more manageable goals, the more apparent your action plan becomes. 

For example, if your goal was to run a marathon the thought of that would seem extremely intangible to most people. However, if we break that down into three smaller goals: I want to run 10 km, I want to run a half marathon and I want to run a marathon, the path begins to appear. We can then break that down again into monthly and weekly goals and an achievable and well-thought-out plan has formed before we know it.

5. Let your boss in on the goal

It’s no secret that when you speak your goals into existence you’re more inclined to achieve them. This was corroborated by Patricia Pulliam Phillips, who found that people are 64% more likely to reach their goals if they have an accountability buddy! Therefore we encourage you to sit down and speak to your boss about your goals for the new year. Not only does it give you a sense of accountability, but it allows them to gain better insight into how you would like to progress in your career and how they can provide you with the best assistance to develop.

6. Check-in with yourself

While it’s important to have an accountability buddy, accountability has ultimately got to come from within. With that being said, it’s important to have regular check-ins with yourself to ensure that you are on track to hit your milestone and subsequently your goals. 

You can do this by creating a document or notebook dedicated to your goals, and writing out the milestones you’d like to hit on the way to achieving your overarching goal. From here you could open up the document or notebook at the start of each month, to figure out what’s going well and how you can improve and make more progress over the next month. Some questions to consider when performing monthly check-ins are: 

  • What actions did I take this month that brought me closer to my goals? 
  • What are the areas of improvement in my current practices? 
  • How can I improve these practices? 
  • Which milestones would I like to hit by next month?

7. Treat yourself

As human beings, we’re very reward based. This can be seen during our childhood, as we often tried harder at school, or completed our chores in a more timely manner when we had an incentive. Rewards keep us motivated and provide an air of excitement around our goals which is important for perseverance and motivation. These rewards could include a coffee and croissant after completing your monthly check-in, or having a glass of wine, or going for a massage after you’ve hit a big milestone.

So there you have it, our top seven tips to set goals that actually stick. We can’t wait to hear all about the goals you crushed in 2023! Let us know your thoughts on how to set work goals that actually stick by emailing [email protected]

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