How To Be Successful: A Goals Primer

While on our career path, we always measure success in terms of goals or milestones:

  • “I want to make X dollars by this date.”
  • “I want to have this job by the time I am this age.”
  • “I want to be a manager/data scientist/owner/executive within the next 5/10/15 years.”

While these are great goals to strive for, these are, in my opinion, validation goals. These are the goals you tell yourself to prove to yourself that you’re doing a great job. Will they make you happy? Perhaps, but they certainly are not endgame goals. I’d like to challenge my readers with a few others. I would like to add on community, service, relationship, and health goals to your career path. While the validation goals are similar to the ones we set when we meet with our high school guidance counselor, these other goals will really challenge you to grow as a person. Furthermore, these other areas will help you get to the validations quicker than just always going after them directly. So let me break it down…

Community goals are ones in which you get to know those around you. This could be your internal department, or it could be a group completely removed from work but still related to your industry or job. Think networking and relationship-building for these goals. A good couple of examples is as follows:

  • Internal
    • I will celebrate all of my colleagues work anniversaries or birthdays.
    • I will set up X number of happy hours for my colleagues.
    • I will make it a point to start a user group within my company (with my manager’s approval).
  • External
    • I will go to X number of conferences this year and meet X number of new contacts.
    • I will go to X number of meet-ups this year.
    • I will make it a point to join this online community and actively contribute once a week/month.

Service goals are the activities in which you do something that you expect nothing in return. It’s very important that you are achieving these goals with no expected pay-off. If you go in thinking you’re going to get a pot of gold, you will be sorely disappointed. But if you do the work and something good comes out of it, that’s always a nice extra. The reward in service goals is the work itself! Here some good examples:

  • I will volunteer at my community center/park/food bank.
  • I will teach my skills at a local school or meet up. (Hey, that’s a two-for-one goal!)
  • I will mentor a new hire or someone interested in my job.

Relationship goals are goals you need to set for those that you care about and love. It’s very important to not forget your own why for doing your job – to support your family, children, to spend time with friends, etc. Perhaps you are not in a relationship or married or have kids and so on. You can still find value in asking yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. And, as humans are social animals, there will be someone or some group attached to the end of that line of questioning. So here are some good example goals:

  • I will treat my loved ones to dinner once a month.
  • I will visit with my parents once a week/month/year.
  • I will plan a vacation with my loved ones. (Maybe make it a short vacation if your family is chaotic).

Last, but certainly not least, are health goals. This includes mental, physical, spiritual, and financial health. It is very important that along your career path you still take care of yourself. If you’re supporting everyone else and not yourself, you will have a slew of health issues which can include mental health problems like depression. These are the goals you set weekly to give yourself a break from the everyday issues and are the fuel for everything else you do in your life.

  • Mental Health
    • I will make quiet time or meditate once to three times a week.
    • I will read a book, play a game, or go see a movie I have wanted to see.
    • I will learn a new skill/hobby that I have always wanted to learn.
    • I will journal my thoughts. If they are all negative thoughts, then I will burn the notes after writing.
  • Physical Health
    • I will work out two to three times a week.
    • I will do stretching or yoga every day or every other day.
    • I will join a good, healthy diet – none of the fad diet stuff!
  • Spiritual Health
    • I will go on nature hikes once a month.
    • I will go to church once a week (if you’re religious).
    • I will meditate/pray every day or every other day.
  • Financial Health
    • I will pay off unnecessary debt like credit cards.
    • I will make and follow a budget to the best of my ability.
    • I will save for the future (large purchases, education, etc).

Now, there are certainly more goal types and examples I could give for each of these different goals I have listed, but I wanted to just prime your brain for thinking differently. Furthermore, you can also find some activities that cross out multiple goals. Maybe you join your community center’s basketball league to have some community time and work on your physical health. Or maybe you make it a point to clean up the parks while on your nature hike. It’s truly in your hands.

To conclude, it is very important that you focus on these other goals in support of your validation goals as they will ultimately lead you to the best version of yourself. You can make $1M but still be broke and have no friends. You can be a CEO but had to cutthroat everyone to get there. You can honestly do whatever you want, but the goals I have outlined will allow you to be content with your job, your family, and even yourself (some, if not most, people struggle with this). And don’t get me wrong, I want you to make lots of money and be the CEO – I believe you can do anything you want to achieve if you can put the work in – but I personally would not want to work for someone that did not have at least some of these goals on their list. So get out there and make it happen!

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