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how to set professional goals (and accomplish them)

January 8, 2019

Based on deep research (AKA a week’s worth of scrolling past dozens and dozens of Instagram users reflecting on their 2019 resolutions) this year’s batch of goals is less about weight loss and more centered on inner self, careers, finances—things of real substance, basically. Let us say that it is about damn time.

Of course, following through on goals like these isn’t easy: you’ve got other work on your plate (the work you’re being paid for at your job), you’re in charge of being your own taskmaster, you’re busy. All of these can seem like roadblocks.

But we’ve found that if you take small steps, eventually you’ll reach your goal. And we’ve got some tips on how to accomplish some of the most common professional goals.

If your goal is to snag that promotion, then:

  • Ask for feedback. You likely have gone through performance reviews before. This time, make sure you come uber-prepared. Be ready to ask questions of your boss on specific items, and please, don’t get defensive. Reviews can be an opportunity to be made aware of blind spots [input required Bird Box reference here) in your own performance. Opening your eyes to those blind spots can help you improve at the skills you need to be promoted. Bonus points for practicing and improving your own skills in giving feedback to others.
  • Practice being collaborative. The best managers know that great ideas come from everywhere, and they’re always willing and ready to collaborate with their team. Start practicing now, seeking out input and good ideas from those around you.
  • Make yourself an expert. The more indispensable you make yourself as part of a team, the more they’ll need you. If you become the go-to person on X, Y, or Z topics, the more crucial a part of the team you are.  

If your goal is to get a better job, then:

  • Start networking. We know, networking is the actual worst. But it matters, and there are ways to do it that don’t feel like you’re faking your way through every coffee date you go on. Our advice? Be your true, authentic self. No, you shouldn’t spout off the details of your sex life at a professional ‘pick your brain’ coffee date, but you can still laugh, make jokes, and be honest about your current job and its challenges. Don’t make yourself smaller or more ‘normal’—just make sure you come across as competent.
  • Do your research. If you have an interview, look at the company’s social channels, for God’s sake. Read over their recent blogs. Their case studies. This seems like such a basic tip, but you’d be astounded by the number of candidates who don’t do this.
  • Get a headhunter, bish. They’ll be an advocate for you, they’ll be realistic about how much you should ask for, and they know people. Get on it.

If your goal is improving public speaking, then:

  • Get used to practicing. Yes, there are people who are natural, self-assured public speakers. You’re probably not one of them if your goal is to improve your public speaking skills. Instead, give yourself ample time to practice your speech, pitch, or presentation. Make good notes for yourself. Notecards or outlines may seem dorky, but they’re useful (and the more you practice with them, the less you’ll need them).
  • Record yourself. Watching video of yourself speaking publicly (or just practicing in your living room) will give you a sense of your public speaking presence. What’s your body language like? What is your go-to filler word? (Confession: your author’s filler phrase is ‘sort of’. Used in a sentence: “If you were to, sort of, need metrics around an influencer program’s effectiveness…”) Knowing what words you use to fill the space while you’re thinking of your next point helps you to not say them.
  • Take some CBD and calm yourself. JK. But seriously, we like Supergood.

What are your goals—professional or otherwise—for 2019?