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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Flakes, PE

Do You Struggle to Achieve Your SMART Goals? Try These Professional Goals Instead.

Blacck student or Black professional working on laptop
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As we close out last year and commence a new year, many professionals will begin to create new goals. Reflecting on last year, did you reach all of your goals? Reflecting a bit more, have you struggled to achieve your goals in any years before last year? If so, you are not alone. Studies show that 80% of new year’s resolutions fail, and most fail before February.

Every new year lots of professionals create goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, reliable, and time-based (SMART). However, a great level of discipline is required to achieve SMART goals. Unfortunately, most people don’t have the discipline or find it stressful to track these goals. So, what if, instead, this year, you focused on open-ended goals where any progress can be considered a success?

Below are some goals that vary in difficulty to achieve, but the wonderful thing about each is that you can work on them at your own pace. For each goal, I have provided links to sources or helpful tips to help progress the goal. Remember that incremental progress is a positive for these goals.

Update Your Resume

According to a Monster poll, at least 40% of professionals do not update their resumes after finding satisfactory employment. An updated resume is important because, most times, you never know when you’ll need to use it. You may need a resume for a sudden internal job opportunity within your organization. Sometimes, you aren’t actively looking for a job outside your company, where an updated resume will be handy. An updated resume may also be required for a customer project where you must show your past work experience.

Further Reading

Grow Your Professional Network

If you aren’t building your network, you’re sabotaging any career development you desire. Networking allows you to develop mutually beneficial relationships. Networking can make you more visible within your company. Networking can also lead to open doors that are typically closed to people outside of the network. Although growing your network may seem daunting, it’s definitely worth spending the effort if you want to advance your career.

See below for a few tips for growing your network:

  • Attend networking events

  • Attend company social events

  • Join affinity groups at work

  • Become active on LinkedIn

  • Join a professional organization

  • Volunteer with a charity aligned with your interests

  • Utilize alumni connections

Find a Mentor

A mentor is an experienced and trusted person that can provide advice, guidance, and direction. Mentorship is important because the right mentor can change the course of a person’s career.

A great mentor can help you reach your goals by:

  • Providing coaching

  • Providing encouragement

  • Granting access to their network

  • Providing constructive criticism

  • Presenting opportunities for development

  • Creating accountability

Professional Plus Tip No. 1: Finding one person who can mentor and meet all the points above can be tough. If you can’t find one mentor, maybe you should consider a personal advisory board discussed in the next section.

Professional Plus Tip No. 2: Mentorship should be a two-way relationship. Some companies practice reverse mentoring, where a younger employee mentors a more senior employee. This type of reverse mentorship can help senior employees become more culturally aware. Younger employees can also help senior employees incorporate newer technology into their daily routines. Since young professionals have much to offer, you can benefit your mentor more by contributing your knowledge to the relationship.

Create a Personal Advisory Board

An advisory board is a body that provides non-binding strategic advice to the management of a corporation, organization, or foundation. Many successful corporations utilize the services of an advisory board. If a successful corporation uses advisory boards, why can’t a regular person utilize an advisory board, especially if we think of ourselves as a corporation called YOU?

A personal advisory board can function as an advisory board for a corporation. Your advisory board could be a small group of trusted individuals inside or outside your company that you seek counsel to advance your career. These advisors should have strengths in areas where you would like development.

A personal advisory board can provide you with the benefits of having multiple mentors, as you can tap into the expertise and experience of various people. This can be especially helpful if facing a complex challenge or decision, as you can get different perspectives and advice from your board members. Additionally, a personal advisory board can provide you with support and accountability, as you can check in with your board members on your progress and get feedback.

Another important thing about a personal advisory board is that it can be a formal board, where you request someone to join your board, or it can be informal, where you consult with individuals without asking them to commit to your board.

Further Reading

Maintain a Work Journal

A journal is a great way to keep track of your progress throughout the year. Work journals are generally great for documenting any of the following:

  • Goals

  • Achievements

  • Issues

  • Lessons Learned

  • Ideas

Journals are especially handy if you must provide weekly or monthly updates to management. Journals are great when updating a resume or justifying a promotion. They are also great when applying for licenses, special programs, and graduate school. Lastly, a journal can help prepare you for your annual performance review with your manager.

Professional Plus Tip: A work journal could be daily or weekly. It can be as simple as a bullet point list. An easy way to remember what you did at the end of each week is to review your emails from the week. Also, review your work calendar, which can help you remember events.

Develop Your Personal Brand

Your personal brand at work is how you want yourself to be perceived by others. Your brand uniquely combines your experience, talents, and personal accomplishments. A well-developed personal brand can separate you from your peers in a crowded workplace. Networking is important, but it is typically a one-to-one experience. However, your brand speaks for you when you are not in the room.

Further Reading

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