Setting Goals at Work

I recently had my annual review at work, and we all know what that means: forming goals for the coming year. And while I’m all about setting high expectations for myself (and often surpassing them), I feel there’s a real art to forming professional goals.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re sitting down to draft your own professional goals.

  • Be realistic with your time. I put this first because it’s the trap I most often fall in. I have big dreams about where my job could be or what I could contribute to my nonprofit. Unfortunately there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I’d like to. Really consider the amount of hours it will take you to achieve that goal, and if your current workload wouldn’t allow it, you have two options: talk to your boss about shifting responsibilities, or change the goal to be a little less hairy.
  • Think of what would make your job easier. While you need to be realistic about your time, you can dream a little about what your perfect department/job would look like. What’s something you wish you had access to but didn’t? For me, it is creating a technology plan for our development department. It’s something I’ve felt we need for a long time but didn’t have time to do one. And now, since that’s a professional goal written into my review, I need to prioritize making a plan and get to reap the benefits of learning from the process.
  • Consider the higher ups. What are some things your boss or her boss would like to see from you or your department? Think about some basic functions of your department that you know could be improved, and have working on improving them become one of your goals. The higher ups will appreciate that you recognized that need and feel good about you working on it.

Of course, these are tips for when you put together your own goals. Even if your boss would like to form goals with you, come with some suggestions or ideas beforehand. With a jumping off point, the conversation will flow better and you won’t be staring at each other trying to think something up. With more strategic goals, you’ll feel better about your work, and your boss will be happy with your performance.