Work On Your Wellness: Setting Goals
Goals are like beacons. They can inspire and guide. It’s normal for most IT professionals to want to improve their situation and achieve what they value. Setting goals can help bring about positive changes, provided that goals are made with realistic expectations.
Goal setting is assumed to improve performance and productivity. Working toward the right goals can also benefit mental and physical health. Research indicates that making goals and achieving them can improve overall well-being.
Wellness Benefits of Setting Goals
There are a number of different ways that setting goal can improve your wellness. Some of the most valuable benefits are:
Self-Esteem — Setting and achieving goals brings a sense of satisfaction and builds confidence. Accomplishing even small objectives frequently can make you feel that you are steering life in the right direction. It helps you develop as a person. The sense of fulfilment that comes from working toward and meeting targets helps one develop confidence in oneself and self-esteem. This has a positive effect on mental and physical well-being.
Stress reduction — Creating and following a routine to complete a project on time can help lower work-related stress. Achieving project milestones indicates you are making progress and that things are under control. This prevents stress from accumulating and depriving you of clarity, focus and much-needed sleep.
Happiness — Accomplishing goals is assumed to make one happier, generate positive feelings about one’s life and enhance overall well-being.
Dopamine — Every time you tick off an item on your to-do list, you derive a sense of achievement, no matter how small. You had set a goal to walk 30 minutes five mornings a week. Accomplishing that makes you feel good and can cause a dopamine spike.
Benefits of Setting and Meeting Goals
There are different types of goals, such as health, educational, professional, financial, family, and other individual objectives as well as collective goals. These goals can be short-, medium-, or long-term goals.
Goal setting can be beneficial if one sets the right goals. Many people set goals to get ahead in life or improve one or more aspects of life. The most common goals are academic, career, and business goals. Other than those, there are health and lifestyle-related goals.
The practice of establishing goals starts early for some. At school, diligent and motivated students set targets to achieve high scores and grades. Later on, their goals crystallize around gaining admission to universities and institutes of their choice.
In the IT industry, it is crucial to keep learning because technology evolves rapidly. Whatever your specialization, you need to stay abreast of new tools and technologies in your field. It’s not surprising that many tech professionals aim to learn a new programming language each year, or advance their networking skills, or gain knowledge and experience in a different specialization, such as cloud computing, AI and machine learning, cybersecurity, or data science and analytics.
Setting and meeting goals can effect positive life changes, such as:
Focus — Goal setting can help strengthen and direct your focus. You have a goal in mind and you know you have to take certain steps to accomplish that. This helps you focus on the work at hand and channelize your energy.
Direction — Specific goals provide direction. You need to have a clear objective of what you want to achieve in order to be able to determine the steps you need to take.
Confidence — Establishing and achieving goals helps build confidence in one’s abilities. One develops self-assurance to move ahead in life.
Discipline — Setting and meeting targets can improve self-discipline. When you are determined to accomplish something within a specific timeline, you manage time better and focus your efforts on achieving your chosen goal.
Can Goal Setting Become Counterproductive?
It’s important to set specific, realistic, achievable goals that relate to what you want to do, not what you think you should do because others happen to be pursuing certain goals. You have a good chance of accomplishing a goal if you identify precisely what you want to achieve and how you are going to benefit from it.
Goal setting can prove counterproductive or detrimental if expectations are vague and unrealistic. A goal must be specific and achievable, given your abilities and situation. If you just have a generic goal to do well in your career or lose weight, that’s not very helpful. If a goal is not specific, quantifiable and feasible, accomplishing it will be difficult because of the lack of clarity on exactly what is to be achieved and how and when.
Failure to accomplish a goal can lead to frustration, reduced motivation, loss of confidence and depression. One could lose interest and give up. Ambiguous and improbable goals don’t provide direction and can hold you back.
Defining Your Goals
Many adopt the SMART approach to goal setting. SMART stands for:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable
R = Realistic
T = Time-related
This approach can help turn vague goals to actionable and trackable ones. When establishing a goal, you need to be clear about what you want to achieve, why and when. For example, you might aim to learn Java because you intend developing Android apps. You need to define a suitable timeline and then create a plan.
A goal should be realistic, taking into account one’s capabilities and circumstances.
It’s helpful to break down big goals into smaller chunks that you can accomplish a little at a time. Set milestones for each phase. The sense of achievement when you complete one phase and move to the next helps you stay focused and motivated and maintain momentum.
Long- and short-term goals have their uses depending on what you are aiming for. You may have a long-term goal of becoming a cloud architect, in which case you will need to define the steps to achieve that within a suitable timeframe.
A short-term goal may be apt if you are working on a project that you need to complete within three weeks.
Personal vs. Professional Goals
Pursuing personal and professional goals simultaneously is viable. It’s quite the norm for IT professionals to determine career objectives. These goals can be role-specific, pertaining to one’s existing job or an intended position, or team-specific, relating to one’s performance as a team member or the performance of the team as a whole.
Then there are individual or personal goals. It is not uncommon for professionals to have both career and individual goals. Personal goals can pertain to health, family, relationships, creative pursuits or other interests. For example, you may set a goal to lose 5 pounds within 2 months. Family-specific goals might center on spending at least 5 evenings a week with family, helping your children with homework, or visiting elderly parents at least once a week.
There are valuable experiences to be had from working toward attainable professional and personal goals.