When personal and professional goals overlap

30 October 2019 -

Man standing on different coloured carpetsMost people confidently make plans for their professional goals – but is work the only part of life you can apply SMART objectives to?

Emily Hill

Setting goals isn’t anything revolutionary – it is a way of being motivated to work towards something that can seem daunting. They can be big or small, short or long term, but are they only ever relevant to your professional life?

“SMART objectives can be brilliant for both your work and your personal life,” agrees Dr Josephine Perry, author of Performing under Pressure. “They are really important if you are spinning lots of plates, because we tend to do things for other people first and put ourselves in the backseat. Setting really good SMART goals means you have a constant reminder of what really matters to you personally. If you’ve written them well enough, you will be able to tick off elements as you go through, until you realise you’ve done much more that you would have otherwise.”

Make loud statements

It’s an approach she implements in her personal life to get the results she wants and needs. She makes sure to write them down and stick them above her desk as a reminder of what she’s working towards. Being able to visualise them – both as a written reminder and in your head – will help to motivate you to achieve them, and not just talk about them dreamily.

“At the beginning of the year I set out three sets of goals regarding home, sport, and business,” she says. “It helps me to remember what I felt was important and if a whole section feels like it has been neglected for a while I can do something about it.”

Dreams can evolve

It is important to appreciate that your professional goals will change as you get older. “Age, as well as significant life events can affect an individual’s values, and thus their professional goals,” explains Melissa Paris, senior people scientist at the people and culture platform Culture Amp.

Values may change with age but commitment and motivation to keep achieving objectives continue even when close to retirement and getting SMART in this context is vital. At any point in your life, your priorities can shift as you balance your work and life. If you start a family, go through a period of ill health, or relocate, your priorities will shift to put these at the top of your list, which will in turn affect your professional goals at work. Equally, while gearing yourself up for a career switch or big promotion, you’ll prioritise your work life above other things. Allow these dreams to shift, re-shape and form, juggling your goals and to-do list accordingly.

Think big

Kedge Martin thinks that, “people spend more time planning a summer holiday than they do thinking about what they want to do with their lives.” Thinking about what you want out of your personal life and acting accordingly will help you avoid regrets. Many big ambitions or goals are completely linked, such as buying a house, getting married, going freelance, or going back to university or school. If buying a house or getting married, you need to have a professional career with a salary that allows you to save money; if you go freelance, you’ll need to have enough professional development and experience as well as personal contacts and a stable home to do so; if you decide to go back to school, you’ll need to have a job that allows you to go part-time study, or a career you can shift to the bottom of your priorities while education takes precedence.

To download our full SMART objectives checklist, visit our knowledge bank.

Image: Joshua Coleman Unsplash

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