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Setting Goals with OKR’s for your career

Goal setting is not easy! Why? Because on the one hand we want to set big goals that truly allow us to feel proud of ourselves but on the other hand we have to make sure they are still achievable. So how can we do it right?

Well one way of going about goal setting for our personal and professional life is via OKRs.

Wait, but what is an OKR? OKR stands for Objective and Key Results.

According to the OKR framework you will set “objectives” that can inspire you to take action. To be able to measure the progress towards that action, you will set “key results”. And to be able to achieve those key results you will set some “initiatives”, aka small steps.

In other words you will answer:

  • Where do I need to go (Objective)
  • How do I know I’m achieving the objective? (key results)
  • How will I get there? (Initiatives)

The benefit about setting OKRs is that by having to not only define the objective (our New Year’s resolution) but also clarify what steps we need to take and indicators for success when achieving that objective, we will discard unrealistic goals or at least set a realistic timeframe for them. On the other hand we make realistic goals much more attainable because now we know how to get there and have a systemic approach towards your goals.

To make your OKRs more achievable we want to share some tips with you:

  1. You need to check and adapt your OKRs frequently (we know how fast-paced we are living and this also applies to our career. Staying flexible is essential)
  2. If you set quarterly goals (aka every 3 months) you should focus on 3-5 OKRs (no more). Remember that after that quarter you can also set new OKRs that fit the current situation.
  3. Find a good balance amongst your goals (you can of course have some bigger and some smaller goals. The more balanced these are the better for you.)
  4. Be specific with your OKRs. The better you describe them the easier you will be able to achieve them. And remember to always know why you want to achieve a specific OKR (don’t set it just to have one)
  5. Find a good strategy to keep track of your OKRs. (There are many tools that can support you here. You can also be more old-school about it and use printed out material to remind you of your OKRs while you are having breakfast or before leaving the house)
  6. Celebrate your success (yes, even the small ones! Every Key result you achieve should be celebrated, even if you decide to keep that Champagne cold for when you achieve the big objective)

So here is an example:

Objective: Get a promotion at work 

Key Results: 

  • Lead a project in the next quarter
  • Exceed the expectations within my duties and tasks
  • Gain two new customers in the next two months
  • Propose an innovative idea for the department until end of the quarter

Initiatives (e.g., for “Lead Project in the next quarter”)

  • Finish a project management online course
  • Talk to my manager about project possibilities
  • Create a pitch why I should lead that project
  • Set up a project plan to lead the project
  • Create a project team

Hope this helps you and inspires you to set OKRs for this year!

Picture of Laura Villafuerte

Laura Villafuerte

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