Ask These 15 Questions Before Setting Your Professional Goals for the New Year

It’s time to start thinking of your professional goals for the New Year! And, while this can seem like a daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. Ask yourself these 15 questions before setting your professional goals for the New Year and you’ll be on track for a year of career success!

1. What was one of my most challenging moments at work this year? Why?

Setting your goals for next year becomes a lot easier once you answer this question. Knowing what challenges you’ve faced and overcome or still need to overcome can help you set effective goals.

2. What did I accomplish at work this year that I’m the most proud of?

Take a moment to reflect on your greatest accomplishments at work this year. Knowing which ones you’re the most proud of will help you see where you find the most value in your current job, and you can set goals to gear your work towards producing similar, pride-inducing accomplishments in the New Year.

3. What did I start and not finish?

The goals you set are only effective if you follow through. With that in mind, reflect on the projects or processes you started and didn’t finish at work this year. Were they dropped because you ran out of time or interest? Were they set aside because more pressing tasks were at hand? Would you like to revisit them in the New Year or let them go so you can focus on something you feel is more important?

4. What hurdle came up more than once at work?

Overcoming a hurdle at work is a great feeling. But, when a hurdle keeps coming up, it can start to get exhausting and time consuming. See if you can set a goal that would help you overcome repetitive hurdles once and for all or at least reduce these hurdles in size so they’re easier to avoid.

5. Did I do an effective job solving my work problems?

If you’ve done an effective job of solving your problems at work all year, that’s great! If not, one of your goals could be geared towards becoming a more effective problem solver so you can reduce the stress and strain that’s getting in the way of your daily success.

6. What was one of the most interesting things I learned this year?

Did you learn anything fascinating at work or for your job this year? Pay close attention to the things you’ve learned that held your interest the most, they’re often where your passions and priorities lie.

7. What was one skill or technology I wish I would have known this year?

If there was a skill or technology you wish you would have known this year because it would have come in handy, the New Year is a great time to set the goal and learn that skill or technology!

8. What are three things I am curious to know more about?

Whether you want to know more about the company’s goals, how projects work in a different department, or you just want to acquire more technical knowledge, ask yourself this question to better understand the gaps you want to fill in the New Year.

9. Did I do a good job keeping track of my goals and staying on top of my work this year?

If you did a good job keeping track of your goals and staying on top of your work this year, congratulations! If not, figure out why you felt overwhelmed or unable to stay on top of your goals and your workload. This will help you decide how many goals to set and you can brainstorm strategies to stay on track better in the New Year.

10. Can I remember a day when I felt incredibly productive? What did I do differently that day?

Your new work goals can help you change your routine for the better, allowing you to be more productive than ever before. Think back on a day when you felt the most productive at work this year. If you did anything differently, what did you do? Understanding how your habits or behaviors that day affected your productivity can give you great ideas on what to do every day for similar results.

11. Can I remember a day where I felt unmotivated or unproductive? What did I do differently that day?

Like the last question, this will help you understand how your habits or behaviors that day affected your productivity. You’ll know what to avoid doing in the future and know which habits you need to ditch to stay productive at work.

12. Did I enjoy more days at work than I didn’t enjoy this year?

This is an important question to ask before setting your professional goals for the year because, if you’re unhappy in your job, it may be time to look for a new one rather than continuing to make the most of a bad situation.

13. What six adjectives would I use to best describe work this year?

Try not to think too much about this one and write down the first six that come to mind. Do they encompass your feelings about your current job? Are they mostly positive or negative? If they’re negative, you either need to find a way to reframe your perspective on your job or find a new job that makes you happier.

14. If I had a golden ticket that let me work in any job I could choose, what would it be? What would my workdays look like?

This question may seem like a fun-but-useless one, but its answer is often very illuminating. Are there any elements you can incorporate from your dream scenario into your daily work life? Does the job you would choose look similar to one you have or could have? Is the only difference a little more work-life balance? Have fun answering the question and then evaluate your answer, looking for any clues as to how you can make your dream scenario closer to reality or vice versa.

15. If I could only change three things from work this year for next year, what would they be?

Whether it’s your own performance or something about your current job, write down three things you want to change from work this year. This will help you prioritize and limit your work goals so you can set realistic, effective goals for the New Year.

The process of setting goals is fun for some and, for others it’s overwhelming. Ask yourself these 15 questions to gather more insights on what your work goals should be in the New Year. You’ll be glad you did!