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Friday, January 3, 2014 - 3:32am

WORKING: New Goals For A New Year

A new year has dawned and many people are thinking about goals for 2014.

But don’t go overboard, warns our resident workplace and career expert.

“We screw this up by picking too many goals. Don’t do that,” said Brandon Smith, a career coach and business professor at Emory University and Georgia State University.

Start with perhaps one or two goals, Smith said. And he suggested three keys areas consider (“While there’s a lot of other things—like lose 10 pounds or eat healthier, those are all good—in the realm of work, these three are the biggest.”):

-- Work – “[This] represents our career and where we want to go, short-term and long-term,” Smith said.

He said to consider questions like these: What do I want in the next year for my career? Do I want new role? Do I want to work on different kinds of work or work with different customers? Do I want to work at a completely different place?

“What are some tweaks you want to [make] to your workflow that would make you happier and/or move you down the path you want to move down?” Smith said.

-- Work-life balance – “[This is] how we maintain the rest of our life while we continue to move forward with our career,” Smith said.

“Balance is going to mean different things for different people, but it’s all about finding that balance,” he said.

Consider: What are things you want to make sure you preserve in your non-work life? Dinner with your family every night? Going for a long run every Saturday or several times a week?

“Work-life balance is all about setting boundaries and saying ‘no,’” Smith said. “That’s that category of things we want to make sure we protect and invest in.”

-- Relationships – “[Because] you can’t get anywhere in work without building the right relationships,” Smith said.

He said the relationship in question could be personal or professional, since what happens in our personal lives bleeds into our work life.

“Ask yourself, is there a particular relationship that you feel like just hasn’t been as good in 2013 and you’re a little bit bummed about that?” Smith said.

“I personally, every year, will set one relationship I want to work on,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a relative or a friend, someone I haven’t talked to in a long time. Other times it’s a client or it’s a boss or it’s a colleague.”

Whichever area makes the most sense, Smith said it’s important not to ignore goal-setting in your work.

“If we don’t set goals, we end up just reacting to things thrown at us. We don’t have a good filter for how we want to move forward, how we want to make decisions,” he said. And perhaps worse: “If we don’t set goals, someone else sets goals for us. If we don’t define our purpose, someone else defines it for us.”

Brandon Smith teaches about leadership, communication, and workplace culture at Emory University's Goizueta Business School. More of his advice is on his blog and at While you’re there, ask him your workplace or career question. We might answer you in a future radio segment.

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