There’s a collective sigh being heard around Australia as we pack up our Christmas goodies and head back to work. For many of us, it’s hard returning to work after the holidays, especially when we peer out the window to see the glorious sunshine and imagine ourselves basking in it. But a little tweaking of our goals can set us up with a better outlook for the new working year and make us happier and more productive.
We all love that feeling of ticking off goals, be it in our personal lives or at work. With a new year underway, it’s an ideal time to really think about your goals. Don’t come up with a few simple, short-term goals just to be able to tick them off quickly. Instead, really explore your motivation. What’s behind each goal? What’s driving it? Why do you want to achieve it? If you dig a little deeper behind your working goals, you will set yourself up with a better chance of success.
Now, there are different kinds of goals that we should be considering. There are goals relating to what we do (‘Process Goals’), and there are goals relating to things we want to achieve (‘Outcome Goals’). Process Goals may be easier to reach because these goals are within our control. Outcome Goals may not be as easy to reach because targeted outcomes are often outside our control.
Both types of goals – Process and Outcome – are important and need to be tackled together. While the Outcome Goals may initially seem outside our control, the Process Goals will actually help! Process Goals can equip us with skills that are necessary to reach the Outcome Goals. They’re also helpful in motivating us to build on our capabilities, setting us up for a better chance of obtaining the Outcome Goals.
Small changes lead to success
Many of us will be bursting at the seams at this time of year, full of grand ideas to improve our performance or workplaces. While enthusiasm is a wonderful asset, it’s important to be reasonable in what we expect or desire at work. Making small incremental changes is often more effective than trying to implement mass, grand changes. Small beneficial changes are in fact key to tackling those goals we’ve been talking about . This Japanese philosophy is referred to as ‘Kaizen’, continuous improvement, and it’s been shown time and again to be incredibly effective. Toyota adopted Kaizen decades ago and it was so successful they’ve made it one of their core principles. So consider, rather than trying to charge straight at your goal, what steps can you take to get there? What can you do now, today, this week to help you get to that higher goal?
I know what you’re thinking; you’ve had enough with being told that positive thinking matters. Well, I’m not going to just tell you that it matters. What I am going to do however is tell you about the scientific evidence which proves that it matters.
Have you heard of dopamine? It’s a neurotransmitter, and according to research conducted, it acts as a motivator, rewarding us with feelings of pleasure when we achieve something. When we think positively, we receive a surge of dopamine; this in turn makes us happier, more focused, and more likely to achieve our goals.
What’s important when setting goals?
Every workplace has different ways of measuring performance, but many will follow some set protocols. There’s wisdom to be had with some of these approaches that we can take on board when setting our goals.
Is ‘perform at your best’ a goal? Can we improve that goal by making it more specific? Yes, we can. Vague goals are more unlikely to be attained when compared to specific goals. Of course, we all want to perform at our best, but having specific goals gives us a better chance to actually improve our performance.
Goals need to be attainable, yet also challenging. Not achieving our goals creates anxiety so it’s important to be realistic and not try to achieve the impossible.At the same time, our goals need to drive us, so make them aspirational.
It may be that your goal relates not to your current workplace, but in securing a more challenging role. Now is an ideal time to think about changing – the job market is hot and employers are scouting for talent.
Now, get to work and reflect on those things you want to achieve in the New Year!