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Career Development

How to Set Personal Development Goals for Work (with Examples)

December 12, 2019

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Identifying areas for personal growth and defining a clear plan to hone them can have a significant effect on your career. These individual development goals may help you to learn new things, strengthen your abilities or become more effective in your role. In this article, we explain what personal development is and how you can set personal development goals to advance your career.

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What are personal development goals?

Personal development goals are objectives you set to improve your character, skills and capabilities. Setting these goals involves assessing yourself and identifying the areas in which you can improve to maximize your potential. To get started with personal development, you should create a plan with actionable steps. These steps will help you measure your improvement and keep you focused on your target.

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Benefits of personal development goals for work

Personal development goals are important because they can lead to career advancement. Here are a few benefits of setting personal development goals for your career:

  • Clear sense of direction: When you have clearly articulated goals, you can complete tasks with a strong sense of direction and a better focus. You will have a list of priorities that inform when to approach each task, how much time to dedicate to them and how often to delegate. Personal development goals help you eliminate distractions because you understand the importance of what you have to do.

  • Improved work ethic: Setting goals for yourself ensures that you approach tasks with dedication. Your vision of achieving those goals should be a solid motivation that fuels you on each assignment you attempt.

  • Better workplace relationships: A commitment to personal development can often help you maintain positive relationships with your coworkers. As you improve yourself, the value of good relationships can become clear and you may become a role model for other employees.

  • Increased productivity: Ultimately, personal development will increase your output in the workplace. Expect greater efficiency, increased productivity and improved results as you meet each of your goals.

Read more: Setting Goals to Improve Your Career

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How to set personal development goals for work

Use these steps to begin creating and achieving personal development goals for your career:

  1. Create a vision
  2. Develop a plan
  3. Track your progress
  4. Review your plan regularly

1. Create a vision

First, assess your performance and your desires to identify what your personal development goals are. Use these goals or areas of improvement to create a clear vision of what you want to be or where you want to be at a certain point in the future. This vision, like your goals, should be specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound. Consider your motivations for this vision and note them carefully.

Read more: SMART Goals: Definition and Examples

2. Develop a plan

The next step is to create a plan to achieve your vision. Identify the areas you need to act on to accomplish your target and begin to articulate objectives to improve in all of them. Divide each goal into small, manageable steps.

Remember that personal development is a learning process. Take the time to discover your learning style before moving forward to enable the most effective improvement technique for each goal.

3. Track your progress

Record your development as you work on your goals. Note the changes you make and the effects they have on your career. As you do this, you will notice the best practices and reach your goals faster.

Employ software tools or a notebook planner to document your progress regularly. You can also choose to implement this using a vision board—a visual tool that presents your goal as a central idea and surrounds it with the smaller goals you need to achieve to realize your vision. You can include images and photos of your plans and place the board in a spot where you will see it daily.

4. Review your plan regularly

It is important to return to your plan periodically to determine if the path you are on is worthwhile. Consider what you have learned so far and decide if your plan is still relevant. Depending on your progress, you can adjust your timelines and create space to include new personal development goals.

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Examples of personal development goals for work

There are many goals you could set to begin a personal development plan. Consider choosing one of these common personal development goals:

  • Improve your time management
  • Develop emotional intelligence
  • Cultivate resilience
  • Listen actively
  • Develop a growth mindset
  • Develop a reading habit
  • Learn new things
  • Improve your public speaking skills
  • Meet new people

Improve your time management

To make the best use of your time in the workplace, allocate a timeline to every task and following it diligently. Time management skills can increase your productivity and efficiency.

Develop emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence describes your control over your emotions and your level of empathy. Developing this skill can make you a better communicator with your colleagues. In addition, it can help you to resolve workplace conflicts—a useful trait for leaders and managers.

Cultivate resilience

A resilient individual moves on from difficult situations quickly. Resilience can be a great fit as a personal development goal because it keeps you moving forward regardless of denials, rejections and pushback. With resilience, you will stay focused on your tasks until you achieve them. Resilience is a major attribute of problem-solvers.

Listen actively

An active listener assimilates what they have heard and considers that information carefully before providing a response or taking any action. Active listening is an essential communication skill, so this is a helpful goal if you want to become a better communicator. It can also help you build trust with your coworkers. 

Develop a growth mindset

A growth mindset is a way of thinking that upholds hard work and dedication as the keys to success and improvement. With it, you are resilient and see failures as learning opportunities. When you challenge yourself this way, you can achieve results in the workplace. Moreover, a growth mindset will improve the way you set goals for yourself, tracking learnings as well as performance.

Develop a reading habit

Reading more is a great personal development goal because it has many benefits, including that it is a means of education. There are books on all subjects, including areas related to professional fields. Invest in them and create a reading schedule for yourself. Furthermore, reading is a means of opening yourself to the experiences of others. This gives you multiple perspectives on the world and informs the decisions you make. Altogether, this improves your competence in the workplace.

Learn new things

Committing to learning new things is a key step in personal development. While reading is one method, you can also perform research, sign up for courses or take advantage of online learning, such as massive open online courses (MOOCs). Most of the courses offered through these learning platforms offer a certificate that you can add to your resume to showcase your new competencies.

Improve your public speaking skills

A good public speaker is clear, confident and engaging. Public speaking is important to the workplace because you may have to address your team in a briefing, deliver a presentation to the board or pitch to prospective clients. You can join an organization or take a class to advance your public speaking skills.

Meet new people

Making new business contacts is a great way to build a network and expand the opportunities available to you in your industry. Creating new relationships can also result in opportunities for you to share your ideas with others and learn from them.

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