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May 23, 2020

What goals can I set for myself at work?

what goals can i set for myself at work

Have you ever wondered what goals you can set for yourself at work?

I once did, and I’ll tell you one thing, I was not prepared for the answer at all.

Even after spending years in college, I had no idea what types of employees my bosses were looking for.

I didn’t know how to ace an interview.

I didn’t understand what goals to set to move up in the change of command, or the corporate ladder.

On top of all that mess, I had no idea what types of goals even existed, let alone which of them to focus on to excel on my chosen career or just make my superiors happy with me.

What’s more, isn’t trying to be “good” at your job like…against the rules? Don’t we call those people a “goody two shoes” or a brown noser?

Won’t employers see through your goals and your attempt to do well at your job if it’s fake?

To be honest, I started an online business (this blog) and was able to quit my job before I actually applied any of the knowledge I had…

…but before that happened, I did learn what goals I could set to be better, and have a better time at work.

So I’ll give you that here, along with some awesome research I just found on the topic.

What type of goals can you set for yourself at work? Strive to be more understanding of what it’s like to be your boss, align yourself with the common mission you’re all on, clean up after your own “messes” and do a little extra because it’s honorable, not because you expect to be paid. Strive to develop integrity, self respect, and an amicable attitude and perform your duties from that perspective.

What types of goals can I set for myself at work?

According to CareerBuilder, employers said that employees in general lack the sufficient skills to perform their jobs well in 11 categories:

  • Math
  • Computer stuff in general
  • People skills
  • Research and analysis
  • Project management
  • Thinking creatively
  • Written communication
  • Leadership
  • Oral communication
  • Team work
  • & solving problems methodically and creatively

Does your job require any of those skills? If so, there’s a good change your employer thinks you’re lacking in those areas and there’s room for improvement. 

Setting goals that make you appear dependable and “on board” is always a good bet. Taking the pressure off your employer by showing them you have the skills and practice to not just handle your job, but excel at it, is the type of confidence you want them to have in you to excel at what you do.

Other types of goals you can set for yourself at work:

  • Align yourself with the company (workplace) mission
  • Find out what irritates your boss, and strive to be the opposite
  • Look for problems that other employees cause, and make an aim to stay away from that behavior
  • Become overqualified for your position (not to the point of getting fired)
  • Strive to know your spot as well as you possible can
  • Acquire new skills that aren’t required, just to make your job easier
  • Become the person that they need to hire 2-3 people to replace

Make it a point to understand how companies work in general, as well as your specific workplace. There is always a difference between the warehouse and the office. Likewise, there’s always some distance between the “higher ups” and the “paper pushers”. 

Regardless of your position, if you work to understand both perspectives (how your boss thinks vs how you and your coworkers think) you might find a  new perspective on your job that changes your perspective. 

Make sure you have a good balance of hard and soft skills. Hard skills are things like writing code, preparing speeches – they’re technical skills that you physically perform.

Soft skills are aspects of your personality and personal growth like having a positive attitude, a pleasing personality, and being able to diffuse tension or keep a meeting on topic.

Working on your own personal growth is a good way to excel at any job regardless of your position or sphere. Top CEO’s know that they hire for attitude. Skills can be taught and learned, but a good attitude is rare and priceless.

Is setting goals better for my career?

According to Gary McKeown (author of Essentialism) organizations without clarity of purpose end up wasting resources, running around in circles, getting negligible results, and eventually breaking apart.

Clarity of purpose is the first step in setting goals for your organization.

The same goes for individuals like you and me – the first thing we need to do is become clear on what it is we want from life.

How do we want to live and be?

How do we want others to see us?

What kind of respect do we want from our peers and when others watch us work, what types of things do we want them to say about us when we’re not around?

A goal allows you to decide what type of person you want to become, appear to be, and experience yourself as. When we do this, our whole life changes to match that aspiration.

The goal is a roadmap to achieving your aims in life and work, but don’t take it from me – Brian de Haaff (CEO of AHA! / and author of Lovability: How to build a business that people love and be happy doing it) says that the magic stuff successful people and career climbers use is a methodical and strategic plan to achieving their purpose…whatever that purpose might be.

This means setting goals and being intensely focused on them, almost to the point of impoliteness in some cases.

What happens when I set goals at work?

The Good:

  • You feel better about yourself.
  • You see work in a different light.
  • Possibilities open up for you.
  • You become focused on what’s important and careless about what’s not.
  • Your attitude changes.
  • You get noticed by people who matter.
  • You move up the ladder.
  • People see you differently.

The Bad (not necessarily though):

  • You find out who your haters are.
  • The sudden change might startle people (even if they’re not haters).
  • You might lose some friends.
  • Your whole life outside of work could change
  • You might over do it, and try to achieve too much too fast.

The Bottom Line:

  • There is never a good reason not to improve.
  • Whatever you lose, you probably didn’t need anyway.
  • If you’re ready for a change, make the change now.
  • Life always gets better when you leave the outdated behind.
  • If you have the desire to achieve more, you’re one of the people who actually can. 

What if I’m in a job I don’t like?

Tell me about it. The theme here is moving on when you know you need to move on.

It’s not even just about moving on from a job you hate; you could also feel like moving on from a job you enjoy doing (like me).

I used to love driving a pallet jack and a forklift in the warehouse jobs I had years ago, but eventually, I just knew a change was coming.

My experience until then was that when I felt like a life change needed to be made, they always were made, either by me, or by life forcing the change to happen.

When life forces a change on you, it’s never good. It’s always explosive, catastrophic and painful.

It’s best to make the change when you feel that first inkling that something isn’t right, and it might be a subtle (intuitive even) nudge of “I think it’s time for me to move on and do [fill in the blank]”.

What if you do hate your job though? Setting goals is probably one of the best ways to correct that issue because the goal setting process illuminates what you DO want in life, and guides you toward it.

The best thing for you to do if you’re in this position might be to:

  1. Use the wheel of life exercise to figure out whether it’s REALLY your job that you hate (could be something else hiding in plain site)
  2. Develop a clear vision for your immediate future and distant future. This is your life. What do you want from it?
  3. Set the goal and do the thing. Nothing’s gonna stop you except inaction.

What will my superiors think about me?

It’s not like they’re reading your journal, so they won’t even know this is your plan. All they’ll see is you doing everything they like, and nothing they don’t like. They’ll love it.

The best thing for an employer is an employee they don’t have to worry about, what to speak of someone they can actually count on.

They won’t see you setting goals, and as long as you’re not pushy, overreaching, or too confident too soon, the only thing they’ll notice is that on several occasions you’ve shown up and crushed the standard they set.

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What goals can I set for myself at work?

Brian Wright

I read a lot of books. I learn from a lot of experts. I don't like being called a guru because it sounds pretentious, but I do know a few things about a few things. Went to one of the best private high schools in the country, went to an OK university, dropped out, then moved into a monastery. My point is that I'm pretty expert in the art of being a good student. That's the whole point of life.

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