It’s that time of the year again: a new year and new goals. Several years ago, my friend wrote a mini-comic entitled No Goals, about minor hockey culture. The title refers to scoring goals throughout a hockey season, but also puns on not having a clear direction in life, influenced by overarching life goals.
I was thinking about my friend’s comic as I’m writing professional goals for the new year. I’ve never been someone without any goals, but goals are something I have been wrapping my head around, especially as an early-career academic librarian.
At my institution, goals set in our annual performance reviews weigh heavily for future promotion applications. You want to have a record of accomplishing your yearly goals to show consistent, professional growth to a future promotion committee. It’s important to think about what is achievable throughout the year, to show growth and progress, but also to challenge yourself. It’s like walking a tight-rope, having a goal that’s achievable on the one side, but challenging yourself on the other. Setting a goal that is challenging and achievable is why I have been wrapping my head around goal-setting, especially to have goals that are meaningful for me.
I, like the majority of my peers, like accomplishments; I like looking back and knowing I challenged myself, stuck with a task, and finished it. However, sometimes what I’m working towards doesn’t work out – a conference proposal is rejected, I’m not offered that research grant, a faculty member doesn’t invite me to teach to their class that semester, I don’t land that University Librarian job, I’m not elected ALA President, and so on. Some goals you have more control over and some, not as much. That’s why I’m still wrapping my head around writing achievable, yet challenging, goals.
To set my goals, I think about my year and where I want to be in a year’s time: what are my priorities for the year, where do I need more growth, and what opportunities do I foresee coming up. I then think about where my goals fit into the different sections of my performance review: professional performance, research, service, professional development, and teaching. I have at least one goal for each section, with more in the professional performance section as this area makes up the bulk of my job.
I try to make my goals SMART — because what librarian doesn’t like a witty acronym? But also, it helps me develop specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals. This gives me a framework and allows me to hone my focus on several goals for my performance review.
After I have a draft of my annual goals, I usually put my feet up on my desk, with my arms behind my head, and think about the riches and fame that will be showered upon me after I complete my goals for the year. Joking aside, I will spend time to think about my draft of goals for a few days or weeks and revise, then discuss my goals with the head of my library to get their thoughts and input.
While thankfully I can’t say I have no goals, as I’m putting the finishing touches on my performance review and it’s chalk full of new goals for myself, I hope the new year brings with it many accomplishments and completed goals for myself and for you.
What do you hope the new year brings? What are your goals for 2023? Pop them into the comments, if you’d like. We would love to hear from you.