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Published on September 22, 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

Reference

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on October 22, 2020

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

2 Transformational Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy

Good things come in twos: Peanut butter and jelly, Day and night, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. The same is true for what sparks our creative energy: our thoughts and actions.

Creativity is an inside job as much as it is about a conducive schedule, physical environment, and supportive behaviors. By establishing the right internal and external landscape, creativity can blossom from the abstract to the concrete and we can have fun along the way.

Sparking creativity is all about setting up the right conditions so a spark is ignited and sustained. The sparks don’t fizzle out. They are allowed to grow and ripen.

Think of a garden. Intention alone will not produce the delicious red tomato nor will the readiest seed. That seed needs attention at its nascent stage and as it grows a stalk and produces fruit. If we want to enjoy more than one fruit, we keep at it, cultivating the plant and reaping multiple harvests.

Creativity lives in each of us like seeds in the earth or encapsulated in a nut. Seeds of ideas, concepts, designs, stories, images, and even ways of communicating that surprise and delight await activation.

By sparking our creative energy, we activate these unique seeds. Like snowflakes, they are of a moment and always without a match. The smallest sparks encourage even the smallest, most dormant seeds to sprout.

The good news is that our creative energy wishes to be sparked—to be invited to play. It wants to be our regular playmate.

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1. Be Childlike in Your Thoughts, Attitudes, and Approach

Being childlike in our thoughts, attitudes, and approach is an easy way to internally have our thoughts be gracious prolific gardeners to our creative energy. If we want it to come out and play and hang around as our regular companion, then let’s return to our 5-year-old selves.

Our childhood selves are naturally curious. We still have that curiosity! All we have to do is remind ourselves to get curious. We can do that by simply observing and being with what is in front of us instead of making up a story about what won’t work or why something can’t be done. So, it’s about cultivating curiosity instead of jumping into judgment.

Move Your Inner Judge to the Sidelines

When we get curious, creativity percolates and, ultimately, takes its place in the world. To give a hand in choosing curiosity over judgment, we can move the judge that also lives inside us to the sidelines. The judge squashes our creative urges, even when they are as small as sharing a point of view. It’s that pesky voice that causes us to doubt ourselves or worry about what others will think.

The judge is also risk-averse. The judge likes things to stay the same. Change makes the judge nervous.

Creativity is all about risk and changing things up. It needs risk, even failure, to be its naturally innovative, dynamic, impactful self. The judge likes to convince us failure is something to be avoided at all costs.

To move the judge to the sidelines and let curiosity reign, we can pay attention to who we are in conversation with and who is calling the shots.

Is it the voice of fear, doubt, or anxiety (the inner-critic—the judge’s boss)? Or is it the voice of wisdom, courage, strength, and non-attachment, and of course curiosity (the inner-leader)?

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We can easily tell the difference by how each makes us feel. The inner-critic depletes and slows us down, putting roadblocks in the way. The inner-leader energizes and a natural rhythm develops.

It’s all about who we spend time with. If we wish to exercise, we will seek out our friends who go to the gym or hike. If we want to lose some weight, we will opt to eat dinner with someone who prefers a healthy spot over fast food.

After getting curious, we can honor what our curiosity prompts us to do. The spark can do its job and a fire starts to glow when commitment enters. Our childhood selves were fully committed to being creative. That level of commitment is still something we are very capable of exercising!!

Again, we need to let go of the judge. We can ask ourselves, what do we want to commit to—negativity that depletes our creative energy, depth, and output, or the understanding that our thoughts and attitudes matter and that right thoughts and attitudes are the sparks that really let our creativity come alive?

Learn to Recall Your Childhood Self

To get in touch with that unabashedly committed childhood self, recall your childhood self. If you have a picture, pull one out. Keep it around so you can remember to activate that innate creative nature that was prominent then and wants to be prominent now and always.

Soak in the essence of that being. Commit to their commitment to brave and dogged trial and error because it is yours as well. You are that person.

Remember how tenacious you were when you wanted to build that sandcastle. You kept at it as the waves came in. You built with fury or reconfigured the walls. Also, remember that there was a willingness to fail since you were as invested in the process as well as the outcome—but less with the outcome. You were willing to experiment and start again. There was vitality—the main lifeline of your creative energy—instead of a rigid attachment.

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When you notice you are in conversation with your inner-critic or being held back by it, simply acknowledge, name it, and then switch to your inner-leader by taking a few good deep belly breaths, rubbing two fingertips together, or listening to ambient sounds in the background.

Physical movements shift our negative thoughts over to the positive domain of the inner-leader. As our judge continues to sit on the sidelines, our ability to quiet the inner-critic becomes stronger. We taste freedom. A simple taste emboldens us to say no again to the judge and yes to what makes our hearts and spirits sing—our creativity.

We begin to spark creativity to the point it no longer needs to be invited to play. It becomes our regular playmate—the younger sibling or the kid next door ready to have some fun, maybe even make some mischief by shaking things up.

When we align with our inner-leader and think and act from its promptings, creativity flows up and out with ease, as it needs to!

Letting those initial sparks generate a creativity fire that keeps burning is something we can all do! That’s the inside job.

2. Listen to Your Inner Leaders of Creative Energy

If we listen, our inner-leaders will let us know just what we need to set-up and do in our physical world to maximize that gorgeous, hungry creativity we now have flowing freely in us.

The seed has been unlocked! So, now what?

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To enable our creative energy to take its form and place outside of us, there needs to be spaciousness! Spaciousness in our physical worlds impacts our internal one. It lets the voice of the inner-leader be heard. It lets creativity have room to be sparked and acted upon.

With a little discipline, we can easily create spaciousness in our daily lives—spaciousness that will spark our creativity and let it take shape.

So, no matter who you are and what conditions help your creativity thrive, check-out these easy-to-implement basic suggestions:

  • Reduce or eliminate multi-tasking.
  • Say yes to what matters and what aligns with your big values and goals.
  • Say no to all else.
  • Say no again.
  • Schedule time in your calendar as you do with other things in your life to just be, to ponder, to let ideas percolate, and to create.
  • Spend time doing the things that bring out your creative energy. It could be walking, singing, or simply looking out the window.
  • Meditate.
  • Breathe—long breaths in and long breaths out through the nose.
  • Invite your body and heart into your experiences so your mind is a part of you and not all of you.
  • Try a new thing to spark your creativity. If you spend time running, try a different route. If running feels stale, cruise around a museum, or go for a bike ride.
  • Play a game. Indoors out or outside. Think of what makes you happy that you haven’t done in a while. Is it a physical game like badminton or cards? Maybe it’s storytelling? Play is creative, and it sparks the creative energy, too.
  • Spend time in the places that bring out your creativity. What spot in your home could be your spot for entering into that mode? Do you need to get out? Maybe a park bench is the right spot, with a book of poetry, or even nothing at all.
  • Spend time in nature. Nature brings us to a place of calm and awe and through that our creativity is easily sparked.

Final Thoughts

These are all habits—habits of mind and habits of doing. Experiment with what works for you. Have fun. If you give even 50% to altering your thoughts and actions, then you will begin to spark your creativity. It takes a lot of curiosity and commitment, but it can definitely be done.

Our innate creative energy is a deep source of all that we seek—joy, connection, renewal. It deserves and looks forward to the changes you will make that will let sparks fly and ignite!

More Tips to Spark Your Creative Energy

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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