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Last Updated on November 27, 2020

How to Set Professional Development Goals for Success

How to Set Professional Development Goals for Success

One life goal that everyone has is having an established career. Everything that we do as humans is aimed towards one thing only—financial stability. Luckily, this article will help you learn about professional development goals that will lead you to this stage.

Reaching a well-settled stage in life is not that hard if you follow a systematic route. Consistent growth is the key to an established career. For consistent growth, you need to put in consistent hard work as well.

It may sound hard to manage but with the right professional development goals, you can build yourself gradually but successfully!

How to Set Professional Development Goals

Professional development goals are not that different from general life goals. But they’re also not quite the same. Here’s a quick guide on how to plan your professional goals for success and stability!

1. Keep Them SMART

Regardless of the category of goals you’re devising, it’s extremely important and the number one priority to keep them SMART, always.

If you’re not familiar with SMART goals, it’s an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. These are all the qualities that your goals should have.

Specificity defines exactly what you want. So, if you want to progress, what defines this progress needs to be specified. The progress needs to be in some form of a measurable unit so that you can weigh your achievement.

Moreover, goals need to be realistically achievable otherwise they’re useless. Relevance to the rest of your goals, life morals, values, etc. is also necessary. Lastly, your goals need to have a time-frame so that you’re not left procrastinating.

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2. Start With the Big Picture

Most things in life require you to start from step one. However, when you’re setting goals for professional development, you start at the end. Basically, you need to have the final destination in mind.

What is it that you’re truly striving to get? Only with the end in mind can you develop a relevant plan. It will keep you from wandering around purposelessly.[1]

Moreover, the big picture keeps you motivated. You’ll always be well aware of what you’re going to achieve by putting in the hard work that you’re required to. This is especially important in professional development goals because you do not have enough room to experiment when you’re trying to make progress career-wise. Hence, with the bigger, end goal in mind, you can plan everything else accordingly.

You’ll have a rough estimate of the time you have to fulfill this final goal too. For example, if you give yourself 5 years, you’ll know how to time the rest of the minor goals to be able to fulfill the big picture on time.

3. Break it Down

Although you start with the final picture in mind, you shouldn’t make the mistake of aiming for it in one go. As ambitious as it sounds, it’s going to be a major fail.

Once you’ve decided on the final destination, it’s time to break it down. Make smaller goals that contribute to the bigger aim. Break it down to easily achievable chunks based on smaller periods.

For example, if your professional goal is to be the head of the department by the end of next year, you have to start working on it on a weekly and monthly basis. You’ll start by outperforming your job responsibilities weekly. Your plan should be to be the assistant head of the department in the next 6 months.

Other similar minor goals are the small stepping stones that you need to get to the end of the lake. If you try to go across in one jump, you’re likely to fall and make a mess.

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4. Use Your Performance Evaluations

The biggest ease in professional development goals is the availability of a third person’s opinion, especially an expert’s. Life goals are generally harder to work on due to the lack of understanding of your standing.

On the other hand, your performance evaluations in your workplace are a major convenience. You know exactly where you’re doing well so you can continue doing it the same way. Your goals around your strong qualities can be to keep them consistent.

Similarly, you’re also told where you’re lagging behind. Therefore, you can plan goals to improve them accordingly.

Another benefit of performance evaluations is that you can measure your progress. Your evaluation before your goals versus after you’ve worked on the goals will show you an authentic outcome of your efforts.

5. There’s Always More to Learn

A stagnant career is a result of overestimating yourself. This isn’t the only reason but one of the major contributing factors. If you want to continue growing consistently, you need to have a mindset where you’re always open to new knowledge.[2]

One thing you should imprint in your mind is that you can never gain all the knowledge in the world. This isn’t because you’re incapable of doing so. Instead, it’s because there’s something new to learn every day.

Even if you’re on your desired stage of success, do not give up learning. Never develop the mindset that you know everything. The day you do so, your downfall will begin.

Examples of Professional Development Goals to Have

If you need some help getting started, the following examples of professional development goals will help you kick-off. Start with these basics. You can then gradually start moving towards personalized, bigger goals in the long run.

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1. Improve Time Management

No matter where you work, what your post is, or what work you do, time management is the key because time is money in this world.

You need time management skills to balance your work life and personal life for mental peace. You need it to manage your work responsibilities for professional stability. Work towards improving your time management skills if you want to accomplish big things.

2. Work on Your Communication Skills

Communication plays its part in every aspect of life. But when it comes to a professional setting, you’re as good as your communication skills are. No matter how creative and authentic your ideas are, it’s useless unless you can get the message across,.

Hence, right off the bat, if you want to develop your professional skills, work on communication for sure. Once you learn to get your thoughts across properly, you’ll open many new doors for yourself.

3. Polish Your Presentation Skills

Another significant work goal you should have is to work on your presentation skills. This is a more formal way of communication. Moreover, presentations have a lot more to them than just the words that you speak.

Whatever mode of presentation you’re using, the way you’re dressed, how you speak, and your body language are all part of your presentation skills. Learn how to present in what circumstances so that you can prove to be a valuable asset in front of your clients and superiors.

4. Learn Teamwork

Very few people enjoy teamwork. Yet, it is a part of most workplaces and work projects.

If you’re someone who despises working with others, make it your goal to change that. You need to get comfortable with people who have different working styles. You need to learn to have a say in a group of people without overpowering everyone else.

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5. Get Organized

Organized surroundings and thoughts are the only way to let creativity come through. Wherever you work, improve your organization skills. It will help you manage time better as well. Moreover, organized thoughts will boost your communication and inventiveness as well. These qualities will make you a valued employee in your organization.

6. Boost Your Learning Ability

This goal is something that is on everyone’s mind but it usually doesn’t translate to actions. It is perceived to be something so general that it is ignored in the process of professional growth.

Breakdown this goal in two parts: learn about yourself and then learn other things. So, start by identifying your learning style. This will aid in the second part of the process.

After that, take steps to improve your existing skills and learn new ones. Enroll in courses, learn from your coworkers, take feedback to learn more about your performance, and most importantly, don’t shy away from asking for help in learning new things.

The Takeaway

Setting professional development goals might seem like an extra step. It is a reinforcement of what you’re supposed to or want to do anyway. However, defining these aims in the form of goals is a personal commitment. It strengthens your willpower to turn your wishes to reality.

Professional development goals help you reach the destination that you may think is way out of your access. It breaks down the long journey into milestones that are realistic and easy to reach.

The guideline along with the examples given above are the perfect push start you need to start your journey of professional growth. So, without wasting any more time, start planning your road to success by coming up with effective professional development goals for yourself!

More About Professional Development Goals

Featured photo credit: Scott Graham via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on April 19, 2021

How to Find Your Passion and Live a More Fulfilling Life

How to Find Your Passion and Live a More Fulfilling Life

If you could do one thing to transform your life, I would highly recommend it be to find something you’re passionate about, and do it for a living. Learning how to find your passion may not be as easy as it sounds, but it’s well worth the effort.

If you dread going to your job, find yourself constantly lacking motivation, or find what you’re doing dull and repetitive, you need to start looking for a new job.

Staying in your current job will not only continue to leave you feeling stuck and make you unhappy, but you are not realizing your full potential in life.

Imagine this instead:

You get up early, jumping out of bed, excited to go to work. You might put in more hours than the average person, but it doesn’t seem difficult to you, because your work hours just zoom right by.

You are often in that state of mind, often referred to as “flow,” where you can lose track of the world and time, losing yourself in the task at hand. Work is not work as many people refer to it, but something that is fun and interesting and exciting. It’s not a “job” but a passion that leads to a fulfilling life.

If you’ve got a job you dislike, or even hate, this will sound like a pipe dream to you. And if you never put in the effort to find what you’re passionate about, such a thing will never be possible.

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However, if you dare to ask “how do I find my passion,” imagine the possibilities, and actually search for what you love, it is not only a possibility, but a probability.

How do you go about learning how to find your passion in life? Here are some suggestions:

1. Is There Something You Already Love Doing?

Do you have a hobby or something you loved doing as a child, but never considered it as a possibility for a job?

Whether it’s reading comic books, collecting something, or creating or building, there is probably a way you could do it for a living. Open a comic book shop, or create a comic book site online.

If there’s already something you love doing, you’re ahead of the game. Now you just need to research the possibilities of making money from it.

2. Find out What You Spend Hours Reading About

For myself, when I get passionate about something, I’ll read about it for hours on end. I’ll buy books and magazines. I’ll spend days on the Internet finding out more.

There may be a few possibilities here for you, and all of them are possible career paths. Don’t close your mind to these topics. Look into them until you feel your heart is content, and this will help you get started as you learn how to find your passion.

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3. Brainstorm

If nothing comes to mind right away as you’re asking how to find my passion, get out a sheet of paper and start writing down ideas[1]. This doesn’t need to be an organized list. It can simply be a paper full of random notes or even doodles. All of this will eventually come in handy later.

Look around your house, on your computer, or on your bookshelf for inspiration, and write down whatever comes to mind. There are no bad ideas at this stage.

4. Ask Around

There are likely people you admire in life, and there are things about them that you would like to replicate in yourself. Go to them if possible, and pick their brain. See how they landed where they currently are and whether they feel they’ve discovered their passion.

The more possibilities you find, the more likely your chances of learning how to find your passion in the long run. This may mean that you spend time talking to friends and family, coworkers, or even acquaintances in your free time.

5. Don’t Quit Your Job Just Yet

If you find your calling, your passion, don’t just turn in your resignation tomorrow. It’s best to stay in your job while you’re researching the possibilities.

If you can do your passion as a side job and build up the income for a few months or a year, that’s even better. It gives you a chance to build up some savings (and if you’re going into business for yourself, you’ll need that cash reserve), while practicing the skills you need.

6. Give It a Try First

It’s best to actually test your new idea before jumping into it as a career as you’re wondering how to find your passion. Do it as a hobby or side job at first, so that you can see if it’s really your true calling.

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You may be passionate about it for a few days, but where the rubber meets the road is whether you’re passionate about it for at least a few months.

If you pass this test, you have probably found it.

7. Do as Much Research as Possible

Know as much about your passion as possible. If this has been a passion for a while, you may have already been doing this. At any rate, do even more research. Read every website possible on the topic, and buy the best books available.

Find other people, either in your area or on the Internet, who do what you want to do for a living, and quiz them about the profession.

How much do they make, and what training and education did they need? What skills are necessary, and how did they get their start? What recommendations do they have?

Often, you’ll find that people are more than willing to give advice.

8. Practice, and Practice, and Practice Some More

If you’re getting close to learning how to find your passion, don’t go into it with amateur skill level. If you want to make money—to be a professional—you need to have professional skills.

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Get very good at your future career, and you will make money at it. Practice for hours on end and learn how to focus; if it’s something you love, the practice should be something you want to do.

9. Never Quit Trying

It’s possible that you won’t be able to find your passion at first. However, if you give up after a few days, you’re sure to fail. Keep trying, for months on end if necessary, and you’ll find it eventually.

Perhaps you thought you found your passion but discovered several months on that it wasn’t for you. Start over again and find a new passion. There may be more than one passion in your lifetime, so explore all the possibilities.

Have you found your passion but haven’t been successful making a living at it? Keep trying, and try again until you succeed. Success doesn’t come easy, so giving up early is a sure way to fail.

If you need a little help, the Make It Happen Handbook can provide you with a solid action plan to help you turn your passion in your career. Check out the handbook and start to live your passion!

The Bottom Line

Don’t forget that all of this will be a lot of work, but it will be the best investment you’ve ever made. Put in the time to learn how to find your passion, and you will find that your days are more fulfilling and produce more happiness and well-being in the long-term.

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Featured photo credit: Dewet Willemse via unsplash.com

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