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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
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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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Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

How to Focus and Maximize Your Productivity (the Definitive Guide) A Complete Guide to Goal Setting for Personal Success How to Get Motivated Every Day When You Wake Up Can’t Focus? The Mistake You’re Making and How to Focus Better 17 Traits That Make a Successful Person Stand out from the Crowd

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Last Updated on August 4, 2021

How to Become Goal Oriented and Achieve More in Life

How to Become Goal Oriented and Achieve More in Life
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Why is it important to be goal-oriented? If you make goals without asking yourself what your true strengths and values are first, you could put yourself on the fast track to disappointment. On the other hand, if you don’t set any intentions at all, you could bounce through life like a pinball doing what others want without accomplishing what’s really important to you.

Fear not. Here are 8 powerful ways to be goal-oriented using the ENVISION method (Endgame – Nesting – Value – Inspiration – Superpowers – Intimates – Openness – Nourishment) that will help you create a successful, meaningful life:

1. Start With the End in Mind

To ensure that you make goals that matter, stand back and examine your life from a broader perspective. Think about the happy ending you would like to achieve, the “E” in ENVISION, and work backwards to determine how you’ll get there.

For example, if you’d like to generate goals for yourself over the next five years, write down where you’d like to be professionally and personally five years from now.

Where do you see yourself in relation to work? What’s your family life like? What type of friends and social support group do you have? What are your hobbies? 

Next, ask yourself where you would like to be one year from now relative to what you’d like to accomplish in five years. Write the answer out in enough detail so that it seems real to you. Then, ask yourself where you’d like to be three months from now. Be specific.

What about one month or one week? What one small action could you take this week to come closer to achieving your master plan?

This exercise is a fun and eye-opening way to line up your goals with the bigger picture of your life so that you won’t waste your precious time on passing fancies and other people’s agendas.

2. Create Nested Goals

The most efficient way to achieve your goals is to nest action items inside them, the first “N” in ENVISION. Goal-oriented people get specific about when, where, and how they’ll reach their objectives by breaking them down into sub-goals.

Make your aspirations challenging but not too hard. Each one should be measurable. Instead of writing “I’d like to write a book,” try setting an intention such as “I’d like to write two hours a day, four times a week” and mark space on your calendar for it.

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Make your aims positive and keep track of your progress. Instead of business goals like “I’d like to quit my stinking job,” think about what a desirable career would look like. Try “I’d like to develop educational toys with like-minded people in a virtual office,” and then send out your résumé to companies with matching job openings.

Come up with alternative pathways to your goals so that if one doesn’t work, you’ll already have plan B in place. It’s normal to fail and experience setbacks. This goal-oriented strategy will help you move forward on the pathway to your dreams no matter what happens.

You can learn more on creating effectively goals here:

3. Get Clear on Your Values

Before you start setting goals, it’s important to ask yourself what you really value, the “V” in ENVISION.

The number one regret of people on their deathbed is that they did not live their dreams. Don’t let that be you. To avoid living a life full of “shoulds” and obligations, make a wish list. Jot down what you really want, and put all the reasons you think you can’t have it aside.

These aspirations can range from the material (such as a new car) to the psychological (high self-worth), to the spiritual (inner peace), to pretty much anything you can think of. What kind of life would be music to your ears? It doesn’t matter whether it seems unattainable or even downright crazy.

Giving yourself permission to daydream about a rich and fulfilling life is the first step to getting it. Be sure your goals speak to your soul.

4. Make Time for Inspiration

As you put your goals together, think about how you can find downtime to become goal-driven and receive inspiration in your life, the first “I” in ENVISION.

Americans put in the longest work hours and get the shortest paid vacation time in the developed world. Those of us “lucky” enough to have jobs have added another day to our work week because we now check work emails and calls from home. It’s easy to see why it’s hard to stay motivated toward specific goals in the long-term. 

However, the second regret of the dying is that they wished they didn’t work so hard. Research shows that people who engage in creative hobbies and side projects are happier and flourish more in life because they can generate new ideas and express themselves uniquely.[1] Feeling energized and playful, they get more done in less time, become better problem solvers, and receive better evaluations at work.[2]

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5. Form Goals Around Your Superpowers

Research shows that people are more likely to succeed when they develop their natural strengths, the “S” in ENVISION, than work on their weaknesses.

You can find your superpowers by answering these questions.

Each of us has a unique purpose in life. Most of us don’t realize it, though, because we’ve been pressured to conform to someone else’s idea of who we should be. Fear of change and staying in our comfort zones stunts our growth. Stretch yourself and take a risk if you want to find out what makes your heart sing.

Make an action plan to create a life in which you express your superpowers on a regular basis, whether it be through your vocation, a meaningful side project, a worthy cause, mindful parenting, volunteer work, or whatever else sparks your interest. This goal-oriented strategy guarantees you’ll thrive at work and at home.

6. Make Time for Intimates

When setting your goals, be sure to carve out time for your intimates, the second “I” in ENVISION. Intimates refers to close friends or people you have close relationships with.

The fourth regret of the dying is that they were too busy to see their friends much.[3] Make it a point to connect with real friends, people you can turn to for sympathy when you need it, confide in about most things, and be your true self around.

A new Cigna study shows that nearly half of Americans feel alone or left out.[4] According to Dr. Julianne Holt-Lunstad at Brigham Young University, the detrimental effects of loneliness is the same as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.[5] She warns that:

“Loneliness and social isolation are linked to around a 30 percent increased risk of having a stroke or developing coronary artery disease.”[6]

Become goal-driven to avoid loneliness

    Being with your friends is not only good for your soul, but it is also essential for your health and well-being[7]. Put it in your goals.

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    7. Open up Emotionally

    When crafting your goal-oriented life, be sure to include ways you can open up about your feelings, the “O” in ENVISION. The third regret of the dying is that they wish they’d had the courage to express their true feelings instead of stuffing their emotions down to keep peace with others.

    To lead a fulfilling life, it’s important to prioritize talking and behaving honestly with others instead of hiding your true feelings. According to Dr. Leslie Becker-Phelps[8]:

    “Start with identifying your emotions (e.g. angry, hurt) and understanding what triggered you to feel this way.”

    She recommends you try to understand your feelings and practice self-compassion for having them. When you’re calmer, try to understand the person who upset you. This will help you respect and care about yourself and the other person.

    If there is someone you need to talk to or a situation you’d like to resolve, honor your feelings. Whether it be writing a letter, making a phone call, or visiting someone you haven’t seen in years, put it on your goal list.

    Be sure to meet in a safe environment if you’re confronting someone who has abused or harmed you. Tell the truth as you see it, and try to be kind.

    Sharing your genuine feelings may bring you closer together, and it may not. It doesn’t really matter how the other person responds. What matters is that you expressed your true self. Make emotional honesty a habit by adding it to your goals.

    8. Nurture Happiness

    To be more goal-oriented and succeed in life, nurture the people and activities that bring you joy, the final “N” in ENVISION.

    The fifth regret of people on their deathbed is that they wished they’d let themselves be happier. Instead, they stayed stuck in old patterns and pretended to be content when they weren’t.

    If you don’t like your job, make it a goal to look for a new position that aligns your paycheck with your purpose. If you are entrepreneurially-minded, think about turning your passion project into a business you love. If you have multiple passions, consider pursuing a slash career (e.g., copywriter/coder/career coach).

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    According to Forbes Magazine, many companies are beginning to see the value in hiring employees who have side gigs that differ from their main vocations. You’ll bring in multiple streams of income and experience more meaning and fulfillment in your life.[9]

    If you are unhappy with your marriage or romantic relationship, set a goal to do something about it. Do you need to go to counseling? Do you need to move on?

    If you’re on the fence about whether to keep a friend in your life, be goal-oriented about getting closure on the issue. Take care of yourself in the process by completing positive daily tasks, like taking yoga classes or getting a much-needed massage.

    Whatever you do, make it a goal to show compassion as often as you can because it will boost your happiness.[10] By helping others in need, you not only can decrease their suffering, but you can also make yourself happier than you could by directly pursuing activities to make you happy.

    Final Thoughts

    In summary, the ENVISION method shows you how to blend lessons from the five regrets of the dying with effective goal-setting techniques that center around your strengths to become goal-driven.

    It may seem like a lot of work at first glance, but, in truth, it should only take you about an hour to piece together a list of goals following these guidelines. Why not trade an hour of watching television or engaging in social media to do this instead? You can always get online and watch TV later to reward yourself for becoming more goal-oriented.

    You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain by exploring what would make your heart sing. It’s worth investing in yourself this way. You have the power to create a life that totally rocks by setting the intention to do so. As the 13th-century Persian poet Rumi wrote,

    “What you seek is seeking you.”

    More Tips on Achieving Goals

    Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

    Reference

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