We create goals because they are important to us. They give us “motivation” or “drive” so we have something to obtain. People ask us, “What are your goals?” and we tell them. We are proud of our goals because we believe in some way they hold us accountable. And they do.
“I want to get promoted this year.”
“I want to get my project under budget.”
“I want to build better professional relationships with my team members.”
“I want to manage a team for the first time.”
But when I hear my clients talk about their goals, there is a bigger story behind it. In order to get to their goals, we have to answer four questions, that I believe, help professionals “show up” better than ever. When we explore the answers to these questions, we can then create a path to that next advancement opportunity.
#1 – What are your career goals?
Having specific goals creates a definitive moment in time, an outcome. It gives us something to work toward. We have a finish line. Knowing what that goal is, allows us to essentially “check the box” when we are finished. Now, the OPPORTUNITES, that happen along the way to reaching that goal are far more valuable and important. That is where the real learning happens.
It is imperative that the goal be clearly defined. Perhaps you create a SMART goal where you define the Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely components to your goal. Once you have your goal clearly defined, you can then put your plan in place to work toward reaching your goal.
#2 – What are you doing well?
Focusing on what you are doing well allows you to identify your strengths. What are you good at? When you think about the skills you bring to your organization, how are you leveraging them and using them to your best, and your organization’s best ability?
Have you ever worked with that one person who is the “Go To”? You know that if you need an answer about “x”, they have it and they are good at it. You never want to that person to leave the organization because they are so valuable in that area and if they do leave, they take their institutional knowledge and skill set with them.
Be that “Go To” person in your organization. Let people know that you are willing to be that resource for them when it is needed. Show up, do great work and get the job done. Demonstrate your value by being that “Go To” person.
#3 – What are you learning?
Learning new things keeps us engaged, motivated and fresh. No one ever wants to feel “stale” in their work. When people “show up” and request to learn something new, it shows initiative and motivation to learn more about various aspects of the work. Whether your company calls it a “stretch goal” or “passion project”, having something that motivates you to learn something new keeps you engaged.
You are responsible for your own professional development. Have the conversation with your staff manager or supervisor about the “learning opportunities” you want to create for your professional growth. It allows you to increase your flexibility and opportunity within the organization.
More importantly, you might learn something that really excites you and pushes you toward a different area of work, either within the organization or outside of it.
Learning new things simply allows you to “show up” as someone who is always learning and not “dialing it” in at work.
#4 – What are your growth areas?
You have defined growth areas because you or someone else has set them for you. These growth areas were defined because it’s something you want to learn or someone gave you feedback around improvements you need to make.
Immediate and long-term growth areas help you “show up” and prove where you are heading. When employees receive feedback to change behavior in the work place, their supervisors are looking for immediate and sustain improvements. “Showing up” and doing what is expected gives your supervisor immediate feedback as to whether or not you are able to implement those changes.
Long-term growth is related to your overall goals and the timeline you have set for them. When I ask my clients, “Where do you want to be in five years?”. They get to explore their goals, dreams, challenges and create a plan for how they want to “show up” in five years.
I am a firm believer that you can’t do the job until you have had all of the ones before it. When I think back on all of my jobs, how I “showed up” was clearly based upon the experiences, learning and feedback I received on the job(s) before it. When I managed an intern program, I loved looking at college resumes and seeing the various experiences they had. When I got chance to interview them and ask how those job experiences prepared them for the internship, I learned how important those job experiences were to them. They made connections to their growth, learning and ultimately, how it was going to help achieve their goals to “show up” better than ever.
Finally, reflecting on the answers to these questions can help you determine how best you want to “show up” this year. I encourage you to have a conversation with someone you trust about your answers to these four questions. See where that conversation leads and if inclined, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know how it went. I am curious to hear what comes up for you and how you decided to take action to “show up”.