So much of our work day is dependent on others, but we all have a few things that matter to us more than anyone.
If you work in a team setting, you know that prioritizing your own personal work goals can be difficult. So much of our day and our productivity relies on other people, which can make it hard to find time to work on our own things. And if you work alone, it's not necessarily easier -- if you're running your own operation, there's enough daily upkeep to make you feel like you're never catching up.
But no matter how you work, committing to a few personal goals that will serve as a foundation for further success and inspiration for reaching higher. It is worth taking the time to make this a consistent part of your work life.
Need ideas for personal goals to set in your professional life?
The most effective personal goals for work are going to be things that are, well, personal! Spend some time thinking about what really matters to you. Are you working towards a specific promotion you want to make progress on? Is there a problem you come up against frequently that you want to learn to solve?
Use this list as a jumping off point for goals that can take you where you want to go in your career. Whether they're about self-improvement or making an impact on your team, investing in your personal goals at work will help you take a step above the rest and really shine.
Learn a new skill
When was the last time you taught yourself a new skill? It can be hard to fit in a busy schedule, but it can amplify your work so much. Something as simple as finally mastering Excel can make a big difference if you can work faster or take on a new role on your team.
An added bonus to learning a new skill is that you can put it on your resume and talk about the initiative you took to learn that skill in a job interview. This goal is something that will benefit you short term and long term. A new skill can make you better at your current job and help get you to the place you want to be next.
Many workplaces are great about paying or making time for training and classes, so see if your company offers assistance for a class or conference.
Invest in your network
Socializing can feel like an odd professional goal, but it’s good to know people. Estimates suggest that as many as 70% of job opportunities come from knowing someone. It is extremely beneficial to have lots of professional connections, and to have good relationships with people in your industry (and beyond - you never know where you might end up!).
There are so many ways to invest in your network: it can be as simple as freshening up your LinkedIn account, or as big as introducing yourself to people you admire in your industry. Going to -- or even speaking at -- conferences is a major way that people build that networks too.
Joining a local work group or professional industry organization can be a great starting point. Those groups tend to be ripe with opportunity, and it’s so much easier to find when you have a connection.
In a world of working from home, of course, networking can be a bit trickier, so try checking in on your current connections. Maintaining relationships can be as helpful as forging new ones. Send an email to a former colleague to say hello, or thank a coworker who helped you on a recent project -- it might have a bigger impact than you'd expect.
Improve your communication skills
Communication can be the toughest part of any job. But human beings are social creatures, and we all benefit from improved communication with each other. If you take the initiative to improve your own communication skills, as well as the systems for communication with your coworkers, you make your whole workplace a happier place to be.
Communication goals can be broad, like asking more questions or taking more notes. But it can also be more specific, like scheduling more one-on-one meetings, establishing a better tone during meetings or clearing up confusion before it snowballs into a bigger problem.
Try making a list of what improvements you’d like to see in your work communication and then ask yourself what is in your power to improve. Not all communication shortfalls are things individuals can fix, but you can mitigate them to some degree by giving them thought.
Sometimes what we do outside of our work is really helpful for our work, so making a personal goal to unplug often enough to recharge is really important. For people who thrive on meeting deadlines and smashing goals, it can be hard to unplug; it feels like there isn't much incentive. However, what you learn once you do successfully unplug for a while, is that you come back to work stronger and more effective than before.
Setting some personal time in your calendar or finding a self-care routine after-hours can help make long working hours more productive and meaningful. When you mind can unwind, it has the opportunity to make new connections that otherwise would have gotten lost in the rush of input-input-input.
Make a goal to help yourself be more amazing by relaxing in a way that feels good to you at least once a week, and you’ll surely reap the benefits on the job.
Share a big idea
Speaking up in a work setting isn’t always so easy. We worry about whether our ideas are actually good, if the pitch will land, or if anyone will care, but getting past the fear of presenting an idea — whether you work in a big group or a small team — can pave the way to big success.
This personal goal definitely lands more on the personal side because we all have different levels of comfort in group settings, but making a point to pitch something (whether you like doing it or not) can set the tone for the work you want to do. This is especially helpful if you find yourself in a work slump. This is an opportunity to create a path forward that you want.
Make sure you do some research and have a clear and concise presentation prepared. If you want to take baby steps, bouncing ideas off a trusted co-worker or manager totally counts too. This personal goal is all about motivating yourself to reach higher than you've done before.
Even if your pitch doesn’t gain any traction, you’re still better for taking a risk and speaking up. No one hits it out of the park all the time, but the more you speak up, the more chances you have to succeed.
Improve your organization skills
Messiness is hard to avoid, even for the most organized among us, so there’s always room for improvement in this category somewhere. Whether it's your email, your desk, or your schedule, there’s a very good chance that you could benefit from some better organization.
You can commit to spending a few extra minutes each day or each week to this personal goal. You'd be amazed at what a little bit of consistency can add up to when it comes to getting organized. The secret is building up good habits that can snowball into longterm success.
If you want to get really serious, we recommend investing in the Ultimate Organization Suite. This set includes 5 essential tools for organization your schedule and your mind, so you make the most of everything you do.
Getting organized has a huge ripple effect across your life; you'll see improvement in areas like time management, focus, and communication. Commit to consistent small steps towards becoming more organized, and then do a deep dive every few months. You'll thank yourself for seriously leveling up your life.
What are some of your personal work goals for the new year?