7 Tips to Set Personal Development Goals for Work


The term ‘personal development’ is widely overused, but not everyone can define what exactly stands behind it. Briefly speaking, personal development assumes learning new skills, developing new traits and habits that make you more effective in all areas of life. According to the report, millennials take personal growth most seriously. 94% of them are willing to spend $300 on personal development monthly.

Personal development at work is the process which is meant to turn you into more competent and fulfilled professional. Moreover, personal development and career progression go hand in hand – getting promoted isn’t possible without learning new skills and building your expertise. Today’s guide from our top resume writers will show you how to set personal development goals that work and lead you to an accomplished professional life. Learn also how to find a job after graduation here.

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Why set personal development goals for work?

Setting professional development goals isn’t an absolute necessity. You can get hired and get paid even without a list of goals at hand. Yet, if you aim for a career and professional fulfilment, you should set them, and here’s why:

To get a sense of career direction. You’re not likely to move through the ranks if you have a vague idea of where you see yourself in a few years from now. Creating a vision of your professional future helps you focus on jobs and responsibilities that will lead to that desired goal. Hence, you’ll accomplish it faster and make every day at work filled with purpose.

Better productivity. Do you often find yourself loaded with tasks and projects but cannot define which of them matter most? If you have goals set, it helps you concentrate on the activities that lead you towards the completion of these goals. You get more productive in completing high-priority tasks, which helps your professional development and pleases your boss.

Improved motivation. If your work looks uninspiring and you make an effort every time you need to take action, setting right goals is likely to change that. With clear, measurable goals comes motivation for accomplishing them. You’ll take the needed action, and as you move towards the completion of that goal and see the progress, your motivation will grow.

Better interpersonal relations. Career development goes hand in hand with developing good relations with coworkers, subordinates, and senior management. As you realize their importance, you’ll learn to mainaing good relationships with colleagues which will foster your further career growth and help you inspire others.

Increased quality of life. As you learn the needed skills and develop personality traits needed for work, they also impact other areas of life. You become more confident, skilled in different life situation and positive about challenges. Undoubtedly, this will help you leave a more balanced and fulfilled life.

7 tips to set your goals in a right way

1. Develop a growth mindset

There are two main types of basic life views. A growth mindset means that we can learn everything and overcome challenges if we are persistent enough. To achieve progression in your professional life, you first need to believe that the change is possible and you can build new skills and competencies if you put in an effort. Focus on the process of becoming a better version of yourself, and you’ll find it much easier to grow in the workplace and beyond.

2. Create a big picture

Before you get down to setting smaller goals, you need to develop a vision of where you see yourself in the future and what kind of person and professional you’d like to be. Setting career development goals out of the blue might work either, but you’ll find it harder to motivate yourself towards meeting them. Let’s say you’re a junior web developer now, and would like to get promoted to senior developer in 3 years. Thus, you should focus on the projects that will help you grow your skills rather than do routine work, learn new languages, frameworks, and more. Having a big goal in mind will help you see which exact steps you need to take.

3. Determine where you lack in skills and knowledge

The gaps in your knowledge and competencies are what your personal development plans should be based on. Say, you’re an accounting professional who wants a promotion, but you feel that your leadership and delegation skills leave much to be desired. Plus, you don’t have a CFA certification yet. Make these points your areas for growth. Think how you can accomplish these smaller goals and create a plan. For example, you might want to sign up for online class, attend the corporate training, find a mentor or simply share your plans with the boss and ask them to assign you the tasks which can help develop the needed traits.

4. Make your goals realistic and time-bound

Take into account your schedule, your current skill level and timing when setting goals. You don’t want to set goals which are too simple as you won’t feel challenged. But similarly, don’t set goals which are hardly possible to attain as this will only discourage you. For instance, if you’re new to web development, planning to become proficient in HTML, CSS and JavaScript in one quarter is unrealistic. But if you plan to master HTML and CSS only, this is quite possible. Or, if you want to find a job after college, expecting to do so in one month is far-fetched as the statistic claims that a reasonable time frame is 3 to 6 months.

5. Align your personal goals with PDP

Performance development plans (PDP) are used by many large companies to improve their staff’s performance by helping them grow professionally. During your next performance review, come up to the manager with the goals you’ve set for yourself to discuss how they may be integrated into your PDP. In this case, your supervisor will look for ways how to let you develop your skills in a way that would be beneficial for the company. Thus, you are likely to get access to the company’s internal resources such as trainings, workshops, etc. Moreover, if you do well and attain the goals as planned, you can receive a year-end bonus.

6. Monitor the progress

Once you’ve written down the goals and set deadlines, don’t forget to monitor the development progress. Review your goals weekly (or bi-weekly if that goal is long-term) to evaluate what you’ve done to achieve it. If your goal assumes gaining a hard skill (such as mastering Keynote presentation or PowerPoint), it makes sense to plan which features you’ll learn each week. If you’ve planned to collect employee feedback and ideas about improving communication process, you might want to make smaller steps: gathering feedback, discussing, and implementing new practices. Tracking what you’ve already done and what needs to be fulfilled in the future will also help you avoid procrastination.

7. Reward the success and update the plan

As you complete the milestones as planned, be sure to give yourself a reward. For instance, if you’re an academic researcher who has learned Python to analyze large amounts of data, it’s a big step in your career so be sure to treat yourself with a new gadget or redecorating a living room. Also, be sure to review your long-term plans and correct them along the way if necessary. If your ambition was to get promoted to senior finance consultant, but in the process of learning you realized you’d rather start your own finance consulting business, make corrections to that plan accordingly.

Examples of professional goals that can take your career further

There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ recipe to setting personal development goals. Everything depends on your industry, career level, personality type and ambitions. Yet, there are certain goals which can be applied in nearly any profession, so check them out for inspiration:

✓ Improve time management and organization

A receptionist, staff accountant and CEO will all benefit from the ability to prioritize tasks, manage their schedule and complete everything on time. If time management isn’t one of your biggest strengths, it’s a good starting point for growing as a personality. You can start by reading the best-selling books on productivity and time management. “The 7 habits of highly effective people” by Stephen Covey, “Eat that frog” by Brian Tracey and “The 4-hour workweek: Escape 9-5” by Timothy Ferriss are some good examples. Mastering time management apps such as Trello, Timely, and Workflow might also be helpful.

✓ Take an online course

Coursera, Udemy and offer an abundance of courses for all professions and fields of knowledge. Courses can expand your knowledge in a profession and strengthen your skill set. Some of them come with a certification that can be added to your resume and improve your employability. If you’re a marketer, you will benefit from Hubspot Inbound Marketing Course and Google Analytics Academy, both of which offer free certifications. Beginning programmers can use Free Code Camp or MIT’s Introduction to Programming. Just visit any of the above suggested course platform and choose the course that suits your goals.

✓ Improve public speaking and presentation skills

Public speaking is essential for all professionals who speak during the meetings, deliver reports to stakeholders or presentation for clients. Not only it will help you feel comfortable while speaking in front of the audience, but also you’ll be more persuasive when communicating within your organization and outside of it. To master these skills, you can watch the presentations of others (TED talks is a good example), learn presentation techniques and improve your speech through practicing on your own. There’s a plenty of schools that teach public speaking, so you might want to enroll for one of them.

✓ Make your remote work more efficient

With the spread of coronavirus pandemic, lots of professionals switched to remote work. Although teleworking is convenient in many aspects, lack of self-management and organization can actually make you less productive. Remote work is a skill yourself – master the tools, software and practices pertaining to it, and you’ll get more effective while working from home. If you’re a manager, you face even bigger challenges here. You need to master remote communication software, establish guidelines for communication process and organize the work of others so nobody feels isolated and unengaged. These tips will help you master a remote team management skill:

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