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5 Personal and professional goals for growth in 2021

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​As all of us have had to adjust to an entirely new way of living in 2020 and with encouraging signs of an end to this pandemic, you may be ready to reflect on what you have learned in the past year and what goals you wish to achieve this coming year.

Personal growth can not only help you in your day to day but also allow you to develop better professionally. Individual goals may help you to learn new things, upskill and strengthen your abilities.

In this article I will be discussing 5 goals that will help you grow both personally and professionally.

Become Organised

Adjusting to working from home in 2020 has brought massive changes and challenges, with the lines between worktime and downtime being somewhat blurred. However, tackling this can be used to enhance your organisational skills, as you can lose a great deal of time due to disorganisation, which can lead to lost productivity. It is important to improve organisational skills because it’s linked to improved performance, increased productivity, and a greater sense of control (which is a vital part of stress management and overall wellbeing).

A great way to work on your organisational skills is to make a To-Do List where you can set out tasks for the day and sort in order of priority. Once the task is completed, you can tick it off the list and move onto the next task. This is a great way to shape your day and will allow you to keep track of what needs to be completed. It will also help to improve your memory as writing lists prevents our brain from working overtime reminding us what to do.

Writing lists are a great way for you to be in control, so you should get into the habit of it by also applying the method to your personal life. Setting yourself goals (such as waking up a certain time, completing a 30-minute workout, cleaning out the kitchen cupboards etc) and ticking them off once they are completed will help you to manage your time more effectively, making it easier for you to separate worktime and downtime.

There are numerous apps and planners out there that can help you dedicate your time to being more organised.

Improve Communication

2020 has changed the way we communicate with everyone from friends, family and work colleagues, and with hundreds of millions under lockdown, telecommunication is on the rise. As a result of being cut off from physical social interactions, many of us have been forced to adapt, but are you managing your communication effectively?

Communication is not only vital for maintaining healthy social relationships, but it is a great tool for progress. Knowing how to communicate effectively is an essential skill that will always be required, both now and in the future. In order to communicate efficiently, it’s important to acknowledge where you can improve on in order to make the best of your relationships (both personally and professionally), boost your reputation and improve your work delivery. Ask yourself: What are the things that have drawn me back in relationships inside and outside of work? What feedback do I get from friends/family?

For example, feedback from your friends may suggest that you need to connect more via phone calls/video calls instead of relying on texting. Therefore, you could set yourself a goal of spending 30 minutes a day contacting a friend/family member/colleague. You could even turn it up a notch and kill two birds with one stone by dedicating a timeframe each day, where you go for a 30-minute walk to call a friend.

Communication isn’t just about talking; you need to make sure you are actively listening to what the other person has to say and taking in the information. Don’t fall into the trap of patiently waiting until you can get a word in, listen, and mentally acknowledge what the other person is discussing.

Improving your communication skills with friends and family will help your communication at work by getting you into the mindset of regularly connecting with people via different methods. You may rely on emails with colleagues, however with the rise of platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, you are easily able to connect via video call.

Personal Health Targets

Did you know the most common New Year’s Resolutions include:

  • Lose weight

  • Exercise more

  • Saving money

  • Learning a new hobby

  • Quitting smoking

Do you also know why people struggle to stick to their resolutions? Because they are NOT realistic.

Your first priority in setting a goal is being honest with yourself about how achievable and realistic it is. Setting yourself a goal of getting a six-pack when you haven’t committed to any exercise in a while will likely lead to giving up halfway on your resolution. However, if you break the goal into smaller ones, it won’t feel so daunting, meaning there is more of a chance of you sticking it out.

Big goal = Get a six-pack
Smaller goals = Purchase a pull-up bar, Download an Abs Workout app, Commit to 30 minutes of workouts per day

You should also pick specific goals that that you know you will commit to. For instance, if you want to improve your athletic fitness, a good example of a specific New Year’s Resolution may be to run 365 miles (equivalent to 1 mile per day which will contribute to the overall goal of keeping fit). This goal would be easy to achieve and track, meaning you are more likely to stick it out!

Setting personal health targets for yourself is important not only for your personal health and fitness but also due to the knock-on effect for your work life. For instance, being healthier and fitter will make you feel better and positive about yourself and has been known to increase the ability to focus and combat any stress you may obtain from a hectic work life.

Upskill yourself!

“To upskill is to add value to your existing skillset or to learn new additional skills.”

The world is always changing, and without adaptation, it is easy to be left behind. For instance, the rise in social media over the past few years has had an incredible impact on communication and marketing, with many businesses having to adopt new business models and adapt to survive. As job markets shift and conventional roles are replaced with automation, only those who adapt and upskill will prosper.

Acknowledge your weaknesses and identify how you can turn them into strengths. For example, if you do not feel comfortable with pitching or delivering presentations to large groups of people, you could join an online drama group or take part in free Online Public Speaking Training courses to help boost your self-confidence and advance your skills. Not only will you have obtained another skill that helps your confidence, but one that will help you grow professionally.

You could also upskill simply by reading. Reading is a great personal development skill which enables you to obtain knowledge on an array of topics. It can also benefit professional development, especially when reading books on subjects related to your professional field. For example, if you work in HR, reading books on mental health and wellbeing would be beneficial in understanding how to best support those struggling during these times when social interactions have been cut off.

Ensuring that your skills are up to date is vital to your long-term success. Staying ahead of the ever-changing trends which affect your industry will make you a competitive candidate.

Skills don’t necessarily need to be tangible; there are a wide variety of soft skills that many people lack or could do with better development on.

Get 7-9 hours sleep at night

Why do you need to improve your sleep in 2021?

With the emergence of the coronavirus in 2020, mental health has been severely impacted with a drastic rise in feelings of anxiety, stress, and depression. Studies have shown that getting between 7-9 hours’ sleep per night boosts your immune system, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves your mood.

There are a variety of factors that you can implement in order to help yourself sleep well:

  • Exercise regularly and set yourself a personal health target (e.g. 30-minute jog 5 times a week)

  • Set a routine and aim to wake up at the same time every day (e.g. Wake up every day at 7am to help regulate your body clock; this will help your body to wind down in the evening)

  • Listen to soothing music (e.g. Put on a 1 hour Deep Sleep music on YouTube when you get into bed)

  • Avoid drinking caffeine before bed (e.g. Switch to malted milk drinks such as Horlicks or Ovaltine which induces sleep feelings)

To sum up:

2020 wasn’t the best year but make 2021 your year by focusing on personal goals that you can leverage for professional success. Accomplish two goals with one effort!

Setting yourself a target of reading x2 industry-related books per month may be a personal goal if you enjoy reading but the knowledge you will learn and retain will help you to develop further in your role, leading to a higher chance of career success. If you know more about your industry, you are more likely to flourish.

Good luck on your journey to personal and professional development!

What goals are you making this year?