No matter how many resolutions you created on January 1, 2017 — vowing to finally update your resume and build a professional website, get more rest and focus on creative projects, somehow you find yourself rushing headlong into October, looking at the last quarter of the year, shocked by how quickly it arrived. With a host of holidays between now and December, it might feel like the last quarter of the year will speed by just as quickly without any time to accomplish your belated goals. But setting yourself a few concrete, accomplishable goals with what remains of the year can help you stay productive, and even improve your overall satisfaction in your workplace.
“What most people don’t realize is that the key to excelling in your professional life has much to do with your personal goals. Personal goals are necessary to your overall fulfillment, purpose and complete happiness. These are the goals that affect your entire life all around,” explains best-selling author and personal development coach Meiyoko Taylor. “When your personal aspirations are being met, the result will be a more focused, enthusiastic and successful career with one professional goal accomplished after the other.”
Here, 8 simple, no-stress, no-brainer personal goals you can totally master before the Times Square New Year’s Eve 2018 ball drops that’ll improve your life and work performance:
Spend 30 minutes to an hour a day reading something that nurtures your mind
It’s all too easy to cue up an addicting Netflix original or opt-in to another free movie download on Amazon Prime. But Taylor says that while a little screen time can help you detox from a difficult day, flipping pages in a book you’re engulfed in will do more for your mind. Look for a book or a slew of articles that give you insight into a topic you’re not as familiar with — whether it be studying up on the history of Thailand in preparation for a trip you’re hoping to take there one day or reading about how to stand up for yourself in your career. Brushing up on these concepts will leave you feeling inspired, not drained, like television can.
“Try focusing on something that will increase your knowledge about an area of your life that needs improvement. You can also read up on how to sharpen and enhance those things you are particularly good at. This will only make you a more valuable asset in your profession,” Taylor says.
Shh, we promise we won’t tell your employer if you *cough* called in sick *cough, cough* without running a fever or harboring a sniffle. Executive coach Hana Ayoub says taking one entire unplanned day off can give you the recharge and the freedom to relax and brainstorm for your future. Here is when you give yourself permission to get inspired by visiting the places you love and doing the things that usually supercharge your creativity.
“In that empty space, there is the opportunity to leverage whatever mood or priority strikes, i.e. exploring nature, pursuing a creative project, or [staying] at home resting. Even though it may not directly impact your work, the secondary benefits of either recharging or external stimulation will pay dividends to your professional self,” she explains.
Sleep for an extra hour
Sign off on work email, hit the gym, drive or commute home, whip up something for dinner, catch up with your partner or roommate, respond to personal text messages, scan through Facebook, try to read before bed… and sleep? After an overfilled day at the office, you might find yourself struggling to hit the hay at a reasonable time, with your brain still circulating. While it can be tough to invite the sandman to make his appearance, Taylor says an extra hour of sleep will not only make you a more efficient worker, but make your body function easier and healthier.
“An extra hour of time spent recharging your body will dramatically impact how much energy and vitality you have for your employer. Making this one change will not only help you perform at a high level while you’re working, but it will also help you with those unfinished projects you have at home too,” he says.
Try something new
Before you yawn in the general direction of this goal because it seems too small to be considered noteworthy, career coach Colene Elridge says even a tiny dedication to learning can vastly improve your performance toward your job. And maybe not in the way you first imagine, but rather, because it makes you a beginner again, emphasizing the use of rusty problem-solving skills.
“Once you get comfortable being new, you’ll start to see new potential in your own career. You also start to flex your risk muscle. Start with little things. I just took my very first dance class ever last week, and though I was horrible at it… it was fun. It doesn’t have to be huge to be impactful,” she shares.
Prioritize your morning
Even if you’d rather stay up far past midnight to catch up on work and dabble in your favorite shows, author and performance coach Clara Capano says the way you rise each and every single day can impact your mood until it’s bedtime. When you take the extra time to consider your morning habits — are you rushed? Stretched thin for time? Exhausted? — you can better access the small changes that’ll get your 9 to 6 off on a better leg.
Capano says to start with making your bed, which studies have shown sets a trend for you to accomplish more. She also suggests opening up your windows as soon as you rise. “Sunshine changes your mood and creates a feeling of happiness. This keeps you upbeat and more focused allowing you to accomplish more and feel more energized throughout the day,” she shares.
Spend five minutes reflecting on what you’re thankful for
No matter how much your boss gets on your last nerve when they attempt to micromanage you or how painful it feels to sit through the third conference call of a day (that you weren’t needed for), you can remind yourself to be thankful to see that paycheck direct deposit into your bank account every two weeks. Plus, think about life beyond your career — your friendships, your love life, your family and the roof over your head — are all blessings you might overlook when the mayhem of everyday rituals clouds your judgement. While it might not seem like practicing gratitude will improve your professional life, Taylor argues this daily moment of reflection will put your office through a whole new, rose-colored lens. Or, it might be the catalyst that encourages you look for a new gig.
“Expressing gratitude or thanks for everything you have will give you a greater sense of pride and gratefulness for everything that you do. This will affect your job by promoting a culture of thankfulness, gratitude and happiness as you perform in your work environment,” he explains.
Reach out to two people a week
More than any other determining factor in your career, your network defines your net worth, according to Eldridge. But especially as the years continue on and you become more established and settled in you career, the less effort you may put into expanding your professional circle. No matter what stage of the corporate ladder you’re balancing on, though, meeting new mentors and colleagues is essential for personal development. An easy first step is to reach out two people per week to cultivate could-be relationships.
“You never know what might happen. Maybe they know of a new job opportunity. Maybe there’s a way you can help them. Maybe they can connect you with someone you need to know — it’s endless. Strengthen your network. Build connections, and watch the possibilities,” she says.
Ask for what you need
Much like putting forward the energy in the universe you wish to attain, taking a moment in the last quarter of the year to consider what you’re not currently receiving from your employer is a worthwhile practice. As Elridge explains, all too often, we may waste time waiting for someone to recognize our achievements, give us that promotion or have our backs, when in reality, it’s in our court to stand up — and ask for — what we deserve. When you identify what you need, you’re better equipped to stand firm in your queries.
“When you get in the process of asking, you get the chance to let someone help you. Plus, you lower your levels of stress by taking something off your plate. Ask, and learn how to receive. This benefits you at work as well. Imagine if you asked a coworker for help on a project that’s burning you out. You get it done, and you both receive praise,” she explains.