SMART Challenges to Boost Personal and Professional Growth in the Next Year


A challenge is an opportunity to push yourself further to see what you can achieve, to see how resilient you are, and to prove your character. You don’t have to wait for a challenge to present itself, you can seek out challenges to test your mettle. We often call these sorts of challenges “goals,” but a “challenge” sounds more fun. It sounds like a dare, only for the bold and courageous.


This year, assign yourself SMART challenges that will not only boost your personal growth but professional growth as well. Set an annual goal that gives you enough time to set significant challenges that can make a noticeable difference in your development, especially if you devise challenges that build your skills. Think of how you would like to grow personally and professionally, and then go for it. See what you can achieve when you test your willpower and abilities.


Develop a plan of action so you can beat the challenges using the SMART goal-setting method:

  • Specific,
  • Measurable,
  • Achievable,
  • Relevant, and
  • Time-bound.

Boost Your Skills With These SMART Challenges

Here are some examples of SMART challenges to help you develop your skills by next year:

  • Complex Problem-Solving. Hone your ability to use your logical and analytical mind by improving your problem-solving skills. Challenge yourself to think creatively about solutions.
    • Challenge: Think of as many solutions as you can when tackling a problem. Brainstorm five different solutions within two hours for any problem.
    • Challenge: Unplug from technology for the weekend so you can think about solutions without distractions.
    • Challenge: Survey your team or customers to find out where they see room for improvement in your company. Brainstorm five different solutions for each pain point identified.


  • Negotiation Skills. When dealing with conflict and confrontation, having strong negotiation skills will help you to forge solutions through mutual agreement. It is a skill you can use in both your professional and personal life.
    • Challenge: Improve your active listening skills by focusing on not interrupting another person in the conversation for one week. Resolve to ask three open-ended questions, with supporting body language, in every conversation.
    • Challenge: Practice empathy by considering the situation from the other person’s point of view. Challenge yourself to spend 30 minutes considering why they want what they want and why it is important to them. By thinking about a problem from another perspective, you will see opportunities for compromise and persuasion.
    • Challenge: Resolve to say “no” more often so you have the time to focus on your priorities for the next month. Remember that you can reschedule if needed, but often you must negotiate with yourself to achieve sensible time management and a good work/life balance.


  • Communication Skills. Improved communication skills will help you deal with people more effectively and give you more confidence.
    • Challenge: Decide to read more so you not only build your communication skills but also build your knowledge base. Set a goal of reading five more books by the end of the year.
    • Challenge: Boost your public speaking skills by joining a local improv theater group or taking a public speaking course. If you are a skilled speaker, seek out three new opportunities to give a presentation as a thought leader in your industry in the next year.
    • Challenge: Develop your elevator pitch. Hone your sales pitch so you can confidently state your value and unique selling points in a couple of sentences that take no more than 30 seconds to say.


Setting personal challenges for yourself will not only help you grow as a person but also as an employee, co-worker, boss, friend, or parent. By devising SMART challenges for yourself, you can achieve significant growth with the satisfaction of having a measurable standard by which to assess your development.


Keep checking out our blog for more tips on how to improve your work performance as well as your labor law compliance.