We’ve reached that time of year when people think about what they’d like to achieve.

Every successful administrative professional we know is a goal setter. It’s often a trait that sets them apart from others. There’s something about good goal setting that helps to ensure you give more thought to where you’re going and what you need to do to get there.

With that said, if you’re ready to set yourself up for a great year, here’s how to do it through goal setting:

Set goals (not resolutions!)

Most of us have, at some point, made “resolutions.” They usually sound something like “this year I am going to exercise more/ eat better/ learn French (etc.)” but that’s where the resolution ends. They’re stated like a goal, but don’t have a plan to back them up.

You’ve probably heard the quote “a goal without a plan is just a wish,” (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry), and that’s basically what makes resolutions so ineffective -they’re more like wishes than effective goals.

A good goal has a plan. It has actionable steps and is achievable for the person making it. Also, they can be made at any time of year, not just when the calendar rolls around to January 1st…

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The anatomy of a good goal

What does a good goal look like? We like the SMART mnemonic for goals because it ensures that you have a genuine goal, not just a wish. SMART goals are:

  1. Specific - They are clearly articulated around a well-defined aim. For example, what does “I want to eat better” mean? A more specific goal might be “I will eat plant-based meals five days of the week.”
  2. Measurable - A goal has to be measurable in order to understand if you’re really achieving it. “Five days of the week” is easy to measure - either you did it or you didn’t.
  3. Achievable - The goal must genuinely be achievable. For someone who typically tucks into meat, dairy and eggs every day of the week, will immediately shifting to five days per week on a plant-based diet be achievable? Or do they need to take it more slowly?
  4. Realistic (or Relevant) - The “R” can mean realistic or relevant, depending on the version of SMART you subscribe to. Realistic simply means that you’re willing and able to work toward the goal - it’s not too outrageous for you. Relevant means that it is relevant to your wider purpose or values.
  5. Time-bound - A good goal should have a defined timeline and target dates so that there is some level of urgency and a plan around it.

Goals for administrative professionals

What are examples of goals that administrative professionals might work toward in the professional setting? Here are some ideas:

  • Think about where you’d like to develop professionally. How can you invest in yourself to get there? For example, are there continuing education courses you could take?
  • Consider both short- and long-term goals. Are there smaller goals you could be working on as steps toward a bigger, longer-term goal? For example, if you would like to work toward a major certification, there are often smaller steps to get there.
  • Consider any goals of your executive and company. What can you do to help achieve those goals?
  • If you have goals for being promoted or even changing jobs, what steps do you need to get there?
  • What about goals for being healthier at work? Do you find that you’re working excessive hours and not getting as much “life” as you’d like? Or, do you often miss breaks and find yourself reaching for quick, unhealthy snacks? Consider any goals that could help to make you healthier at work.
  • Think about books that you’d like to read. Many people find that they’re not reading as much as they’d like to, both for career growth and for pleasure. One thing you could do is make a list of books you’d like to read, and make a plan, either on a monthly or weekly basis to read them.
  • Think about your relationships at work - is there anything you’d like to improve? Working on your professional relationships can make you happier at work and help to improve your effectiveness and productivity. Positive workplace relationships can be a huge success factor. Look at things like understanding personalities and work habits better, or building more rapport with colleagues or managers.
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Tips for achieving your goals

Having well-defined goals is a great start, but you must act to achieve them. Here are our tips:

  • Write down your goals and put them where you can frequently refer to them. Some people like creating a board in Trello for their goals, while others find that the act of physically writing them and keeping them on a board or wall chart helps to commit them to memory and habit.
  • Have goals for every part of your life, not just your professional self. As whole human beings, it’s important that we take care of things like relationships, health and spiritual/emotional goals as well as our work lives. Without those things, it’s easy to end up feeling off-balance, which will impact your overall ability to be successful.
  • Be flexible. Sometimes things happen and goals need to be adapted or changed altogether. It helps to have the flexibility to re-write goals and keep them relevant. Consider how the pandemic impacted people’s lives, often completely changing what “normal” meant. Circumstances like these are out of your control, but you can take some level of control if you’re able to adapt.
  • Have an accountability partner. This could be a friend, colleague, or mentor. The idea is to tell someone about your goals and to give regular updates, so that they can help to hold you accountable. This often gives you more impetus to keep going, so that you can report back on your success. The key is to tell the right person. It should be someone who has similar drive and understands what you’re trying to achieve, as they tend to be more helpful and encouraging.

Final thoughts

Goal setting is an important success factor at all times of the year, but often especially considered near the beginning. You can improve your chances of success with robust, SMART goals, not just resolutions!

Consider both your professional and personal life. It’s important to have goals that help to give you balance. Record your goals where you will frequently check them and have an accountability partner as well.

Finally, all the best for your professional and personal goals this year. We wish you every success in your endeavors.