Taking Stock and Planning for Impact
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.