Setting your goals in 2023 - Interview with Caroline Grégoire
New year, new strength: What do you think would be good resolutions for personal development as an actuary in 2023?
2023 is an exciting year for many reasons, especially regarding the technological developments that can support the work of an actuary. I’m glad to share a list of ideas and suggestions and I will focus here on 3 areas that will help you stay ahead of the curve and take your career to the next level.
- Hone your communication skills, particularly when it comes to presenting complex information in a clear and accessible way for your audience. Trust me, being able to break down technical concepts for non-technical stakeholders will make everyone’s life much easier. It will remain a valuable asset for the rest of your career. Don’t forget that excellent communication skills are also beneficial in all areas of life…
- Take the lead and develop your leadership skills! And I always say that it starts with being a good leader to yourself! It can also mean taking on new responsibilities within your organization, e.g., managing a project, mentoring junior colleagues, leading a team. The more you can contribute to your team, the more you’ll stand out as a valuable asset.
- Keep learning with a growth mindset! Make sure you’re up to date on the latest best practices in your area of expertise. You may also want to expand your knowledge to other areas. Remember that things develop quickly, and today’s knowledge may become obsolete or incomplete in the near future. Think of this quote: “The problem with experts is that they do not know what they do not know.” from Nassim Nicholas Taleb (“The black swan”).
Remember, your personal development resolutions should align with your long-term career goals and focus on the areas where you want to improve the most. With a mix of passion and hard work, you'll be well on your way to success in the New Year. You may have to get out of your comfort zone at times… and it’s worth it!
What are the first steps if you want to tackle those set goals?
When you look at the topics above, choose ONE that you know you want to focus on. On a scale from 1 to 10… where are you as of today? Then, imagine yourself in one year and set the score that you would like to have achieved in 12 months. Let’s say that you chose “leadership” and you are at a 4 right now. Your goal in one year may be to be at a 6.
Once you have set your specific objective and where you want to be in one year, create a plan by writing down what you can do to help you achieve your objective. Stick to your plan, adopt a positive attitude and celebrate your achievements along the way!
More specifically for the three areas above:
- Hone your communication skills: The key is to practice! Look for opportunities to present or explain technical information to non-technical audiences. Or speak at a conference you plan to attend. Seek feedback and take note of areas that you can improve on. Sign up for training that will help you to reach the next level.
- Develop your leadership skills: Start by taking on small leadership roles within your organization, such as leading a project or mentoring a junior colleague. If you’re already experienced, you can take on more responsibilities and consider enrolling in a leadership development program. Remember too that leadership starts with self-leadership!
- Keep learning with a growth mindset: Subscribe to relevant publications or newsletters. Look for seminars and conferences that cover topics you’re interested in. Organise a “Lunch & Learn” on new topics. And be open to learning from others, whatever their position!
Also, make sure you follow these golden rules. They will make a considerable difference!
- Have you tried something before and it didn’t work? Try something different!
- Do you need to find the appropriate training? Look at what your actuarial association offers. Many offer plenty of trainings, also on “soft skills”.
- Do you need to be supported, encouraged by someone who has been there before and can give you the tools you need? Work with a mentor or a coach.
- Don’t just gather “knowledge”… make sure you put what you learn into practice… this is how you’ll achieve results.
- Don’t forget to have role models… observe what they do and how they do it… and try it to see if it works for you.
How do I stay motivated once the initial momentum has faded?
I get you! Keeping that motivation up once the initial rush has worn off can be tough. Don’t forget that you have all it takes to achieve your goals! Here are some strategies that will help you move in the right direction:
- Become your own inspiration! Revisit your goal regularly, visualize how you’ll feel when you have achieved it and remind yourself why it's important to you. This 'why' is the motive behind the action! Remind yourself that achieving your goal is worth the effort.
- Small wins, big results: Break your goal down into smaller, manageable tasks that I like to call 'baby steps'. This way, you'll have a clear roadmap, and it'll be easier to see the progress you're making, giving you a sense of accomplishment.
- Track your progress: Use a journal, a spreadsheet or a whiteboard. Seeing what you've achieved so far can keep the motivation going. And trust the process.
- Treat yourself: Reward yourself for reaching milestones or completing tasks. It could be a small indulgence, or a larger reward for bigger accomplishments, it will give you something to look forward to.
- Nobody ever made it alone! Find an accountability partner, someone who's working towards a similar goal, and hold each other accountable. Share your progress and give each other a high-five.
- Embrace failure: Learn from setbacks and reflect on what didn't work. Use your mistakes as a motivation to improve. If you always try the same and always fail, make sure you try something different next time!
- Upgrade your attitude: Make a daily promise to yourself to adopt a positive attitude. Surround yourself with supportive and joyous people.
On your journey, remember that it’s about progression, not about perfection. Think about what advice you would give a good friend who is on a similar journey and give it to yourself! Keep the focus on your goal and your progress. No one will do it for you…
Do you have any more tips or wishes for our readers for the new year?
One important piece of advice that I’d like to give is to ask for HELP! I said it before “nobody made it alone!” and it’s true in every field and aspect of life/the profession. Seeking support can become your greatest asset because it can make the greatest difference.
When you dare to ask, you open up to skills, competences and opportunities through others. You also give others the chance to contribute to your development. So, from now on, your excuses for not asking for help are no longer any use!
And my last piece of advice for today is to keep it FUN! Sometimes in our mathematical, scientific, serious, fast-paced, corporate world, we underestimate the power of humour and laughter…
About the author
Caroline Grégoire is an international mentor, coach and keynote speaker. She gathered 20+ years of experience in the (re)insurance, actuarial and risk management fields in international environments and in different leadership positions. Caroline helps leaders and managers in the finance, insurance and actuarial sectors on the communication, leadership, resilience, strategy and culture aspects of their work. She is an accomplished trainer on communication and resilience courses and collaborates regularly with various actuarial associations and with the European Actuarial Academy. Caroline is an associate member of the Swedish Actuarial Society (“Svenska Aktuarieföreningen”) and a member of the German Speakers Association. She is fluent in English, French, German and Swedish and is based in Portugal.