Taking Stock and Planning for Impact

BY ROSEMARY KING ON DECEMBER 19, 2017

For better or worse, the turning of a calendar year conveniently provides us with an opportunity for introspection. This time of year, we examine what we have accomplished, how we feel about it, what we want to do, what we dream of doing, and what our goals are for the coming year.  Sadly for us all, this kind of attention is often only lavished on taking yoga classes or learning the ukulele, albeit worthy goals, but it is never applied to our careers.

Maybe we don’t often make resolutions for work because it’s too much to think about, and too much feels outside our control. In myself I’ve found that to be a bit of a cop-out. So this year I thought I would make a framework to help kick-start my thoughts. Sometimes simple guidelines are the best for spotting patterns and insights. I’m putting the framework up here because, in my job, I get asked a lot about skills development and career development and maybe others will find it useful. I did this specifically about goals I have for my job, but others could do it for career goals in general, or personal + professional growth.

I found it helpful to write each answer on post-its with a sharpie (am I product person or what?). I do a pretty massive brain dump for each category and see what emerges but some folks like to focus on fewer answers and give a lot of context. Whatever works for you. Also, the order, with the goals coming last, is not an accident.  The preceding questions should inform your goals.

I also don’t think you need to answer all of these questions. You can pick the ones that mean the most to you. But I encourage you to answer the two categories of goals below.

  • Write down the things you feel were accomplishments this year
  • Write down what felt challenging about this year
  • Write down the things you think you should stop doing
  • Write down the things you think you should start doing
  • Write down times when you needed to ask for help
  • Write down your goals for the next year
  • Write down your goals for the next five years
  • Combine the goals stacks

Once you have your cluster of goals, you can do two things. You can stack rank your goals in order of importance to you, or you could be even nerdier and do a 2×2, with effort vs. value, or whatever labels you want, placing your notes on the grid.

Then take note of a few things. Do your short-term goals rank higher than your long-term goals, or vice versa? How much effort would be needed to move these things forward? Do you have a ton of goals or not many? How many goals do you feel you can realistically accomplish?

Finally, try writing down action items you could do this week or next to start putting those goals in motion. The very first steps you could take, small ones, a conversation, a phone call, research training or workshops. (Hey, Mind the Product can help with that training!)

Making a concerted effort to think about what you want to accomplish with your job or your life has zero down side. What are your goals for 2018? Make 2018 the year you make something happen.

Rosemary King

About ROSEMARY KING

Rosemary is an experienced product manager who has specialized in software development, agile enablement and lean methodologies for the past seven years. She has worked across diverse domains including government, finance, retail and enterprise. After starting her tech career in the New York City start-up scene, she moved into consulting and has spent time with ThoughtWorks and Pivotal Labs London. She has done freelance consulting and training with incubator programs like start-up bootcamp, done UX research on four continents and likes cold water surfing. She is currently Director of Training Products at Mind the Product. You can usually find her at monthly ProductTanks in London.

  • Ash McCallum

    Thanks Rosemary, I really like the idea and I’ve been planning on doing something similar although I’m planning on looking at different things:
    – what I think my strengths/weaknesses are
    – what others perceive as my strengths/weaknesses
    – what I enjoy in my work
    – what I don’t like in my work
    – what interests me and has value creating opportunities
    – what do I want from a company I work at

    I might add the long term goals that you’ve suggested into this to give myself a clear direction.

    • Holly Hester-Reilly

      Ash, you just described very nearly the same exercises I did before leaving my employer to start a training and consulting firm!

      Did you give it a go yet? How did it go?

      • Ash McCallum

        Not done it yet, planning to over the Christmas break to give me some direction for the new year. Anything you would suggest adding to the list?

        • Holly Hester-Reilly

          I think it’s implicit in the questions listed already, but I like to explicitly list out my values too. I find the more ones career activities align with their values, the more fulfilling it is.

          • Ash McCallum

            Thanks for the advice!

          • Holly Hester-Reilly

            You’re welcome! I’d love to hear how it goes, and happy holidays!

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