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How to set professional development goals for success

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How to set professional development goals for success

A professional development plan is a set of guidelines used to improve or redirect a career or business. For example, this plan might be used by business owners to ensure they have the right resources and strategies in place to efficiently achieve their business goals. Individuals might also create such a plan to improve their work methods and to focus their career goals.

Plan development usually begins with an outline. This outline typically indicates the overall goal of a business or individual and what will be needed to reach it. Time is usually very important in achieving goals, so the outline will often include anticipated time frames. Training plans often are included in a development plan as well.

In a bigger business setting, a business owner might even consider it appropriate to have a professional development committee formed. This way, there can be a greater variety of input. Such a committee generally consists of chosen stakeholders, managers, or other executives. Meetings will typically help monitor progress, and adjust plans accordingly. Despite the presence of a committee, some businesses might also choose to hire a professional development director to make sure plans stay on task.

The first step in creating a professional development plan usually involves a self-analysis. Typically, the creator will write down several things that he or she wants to accomplish in their career and how those accomplishments might be achieved. If, for example, an art instructor wanted to work on having a more creative teaching style, he or she might visit local museums and take notes on the ways that knowledge is presented.

Research is generally an important part of a professional development plan. Teachers, for instance, could look for trends and statistics in student learning behaviors to determine what teaching styles could be the most beneficial. The next step generally involves taking the self-analysis and research information and placing it in a template. The template basically is a form to fill out to organize thoughts and get the plan on paper. For example, the template might include such areas as goals, objectives, steps, and strategies.

Conversations with successful members of a career field can be beneficial to creating a professional development plan as well. Discussing goals and strategies with a successful profession the desired field can offer insights and ideas one might not think of otherwise. Some schools offer professional development courses or seminars to facilitate an exchange of ideas.

Once the professional development plan is completed, it is typically time to start implementing the goals and activities. At the completion of a unit, course, or school year, instructors are sometimes required to give a portfolio to their administrators to see how effective their plan was. Portfolios might include selected lesson plans, photographs, videos, and examples of student work.

We shared with you why goals are important to keep productivity levels up at work. But setting goals shouldn’t stop at things to accomplish on a weekly, monthly or quarterly basis.

You should be setting goals that revolve around your development in the workplace, allowing you to progress professionally – and if you’re a manager – supporting the development of your team.

Great goal setting means you can take steps towards improving any aspect of work that’s relevant and specific to you, building on professional knowledge, skills and effective working practices. Goal setting may be supported at the company level, depending on the current priorities and your HR maturity level, but is also something you can take control of yourself.

Whilst your goals should be tailored to your personal aims and needs, we’ve put together 7 examples to give you an idea of some great, SMART development goals which will help push you towards success and the professional accomplishments you’re striving for.

1. Complete leadership training course before the end of the quarter

Part of professional development is continuing to learn new skills and practices, at any stage in your career. Sometimes enrolling in courses or training plans is an invaluable way to gain the skills or knowledge you need to develop in your role and improve in specific practices.

Learning new things doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal process though. Development goals can be as easy as gaining more knowledge about something. For example.

2. Learn more about the new office communication tool before implementing it next quarter

Familiarising yourself with new technology before introducing it in the workplace means you’ll not only be confident using it, team members will also be more likely to engage with it if they see you’ve taken the time to do the same. You will then know the tool inside out, plus you’ll be known as the guru!

3. Gain upward feedback before the end of the quarter to establish what can be improved

Receiving honest, constructive feedback shouldn’t just be a top-down process, especially with such tools available to facilitate this these days. Gathering your team’s perspective is a great way to see how your behaviours and practices impact those around you, and can provide great insight when it comes to what works and what doesn’t. When things get busy, it’s easy to forget to check in with your team and get feedback on how you’re doing. Having a goal in place means things won’t get overlooked in favour of other tasks or projects.

4. Improve presentation skills by enlisting help, in order to make things more engaging for the team

Improving presentation skills is always valuable. It can have an impact on so many aspects of work: from presenting better in weekly meetings to improving skills for large company-wide or public presentations. Great presentation skills allow you to engage and communicate with, motivate, and inspire your team.

5. Gain a more in-depth perspective of how departments within the company are run

By taking a couple of days to work with or shadow each department over the next two quarters, you can build a wider understanding of what goes into each department’s daily practices. This means you can better understand the challenges and obstacles other team members experience on a daily basis, making you a more effective manager.

6. Improve ability to manage the team remotely, by establishing set communication guidelines

It’s good to have guidelines in place to ensure that when working remotely, everything is still running efficiently and team members have support available when they need it. Having clear channels for communication and building a team culture of open feedback plays a large part in success here. More tips on communication in remote teams you can find in this article.

7. Attend training session on how to give and receive effective feedback to team members

Part of successfully managing a team is providing useful insight into each members’ performance. This not only helps people to improve, but will also improve your standing as a manager because people respect someone who provides honest and actionable feedback. This can be as a regular part of the way you work, part of a more structured performance review, but preferably both.

Next steps

Now it’s time to decide on your goals, so you can get out there and begin developing both personally and professionally. Make sure you write your goals down (so you can hold yourself accountable), and even make them visible in some way. It might be scary, but it can help increase chances of success.

Are you a manager? Using a goal setting tool with your team members can help establish focus and even drive engagement, as you work on reaching these together. Selecting a tool that is designed to help you integrate these into your day-to-day interactions such as 1:1s, can help make these even more effective at driving performance and engagement.

No matter your goals, feedback is the key to improving further over time – especially when you create a culture where feedback is regularly shared amongst team members. Learn how to support this across your team with a free copy of The Manager’s Guide to Using Feedback to Motivate, Engage and Develop Your Team.

How to set professional development goals for success

Manager’s Guide to Using Feedback to Develop Your Team

Learn how to get your team ready for feedback to support autonomy, growth, purpose and recognition.

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Based on the new PD admin rule, starting this fiscal year only 3 hours of professional development will be rolled over for the new year. Please refer to the new PD admin rule and guidelines.

Definition

Professional Development is the continuous process of acquiring new knowledge and skills that relate to one’s profession, job responsibilities, or work environment. It plays a key role in maintaining trained, informed, and motivated employees, regardless of job classification.

Requirements and Guidelines

Austin Community College encourages its employees to participate in professional development activities and provides a number of resources through which these activities may be completed. The objectives of professional development are to help employees enhance their job skills, obtain job-related knowledge and information, increase productivity and efficiency, and/or prepare for higher-level positions. In the case of faculty members, it also provides an opportunity for classroom skill enhancement and increased knowledge in their specific academic discipline.

Professional development activities may include, but are not limited to, credit and non-credit courses (classroom or online), workshops, seminars, teleconferences, and audio-visual materials, as long as the activity is pre-approved by the individual’s supervisor.

Procedures and Guidelines:

  • Administrative Rule
  • Guidelines for Staff
  • Guidelines for Faculty

The following are intended to answer questions supervisors and employees may have concerning Administrative Rule # 6.07.002.

  1. An employee should meet with his or her supervisor to develop a plan of training topics needed for the academic year.
  2. New employees hired after the beginning of the fiscal year must complete one (1) clock hour of professional development per month of service.
  3. Employees may use their tuition vouchers to fulfill professional development activities; supervisors may not, however, mandate the the use of vouchers for this purpose.
  4. Professional development activities may include, but are not limited to, credit and non-credit courses, workshops, seminars, teleconferences, audio-visual materials, grant writing projects, and reading or publishing in journals, as long as the activity is approved by the individual’s supervisor.
  5. Participation in any professional development activity should not result in overtime pay for staffing table employees.
  6. Employees, with the approval of their supervisors, may undertake professional development activities during work time. If an educational activity for a professional technical employee is only available after work hours, he or she should meet with his or her supervisor to arrange a schedule adjustment according to the college compensatory time policy for exempt employees (AR#6.10.012).
  7. Those employed by the College in more than one position should coordinate their professional development requirement with their supervisors.
  8. If an employee is required to participate in a non-ACC sponsored professional development activity, the department must underwrite the cost of the activity.
  9. Supervisors will maintain a record of the professional development hours completed by their employees. The Professional Development and Evaluations Programs Office will maintain records for all employees in the Workshop and Event Registration database. In addition, all employees should maintain records of their own professional development activities.
  10. It is recommended that employees seek prior approval from their supervisor for their activities, because prior approval is required for an activity to count as professional development. After the activity has been completed, employees should submit to their supervisor completion documentation which the supervisor deems appropriate.
  11. Under no circumstances should an employee with an evaluation of “Good” or better (for faculty) or overall “Meets/Exceeds Requirements” (for staff) be penalized for not following his or her initial professional development plan. The purpose of the professional development plan is for the employee and supervisor to identify areas needing improvement or growth. New opportunities may present themselves, the availability of workshops may change, and/or other events may arise which result in the original plan no longer being the best course of action. Whether or not the professional development plan changes, an individual must still complete the requisite number of hours of professional development.
  12. It is expected that the supervisor will approve of any reasonable professional development activity that the employee undertakes. Should a situation arise in which the employee and his or her supervisor are unable to agree on what constitutes a reasonable professional development activity, the matter should be taken to the next-level supervisor. The decision of the next-level supervisor is final.
  13. Failure to meet these requirements will typically be reflected in the employee’s annual evaluation.

How to set professional development goals for success

March 15, 2019 | 2 minute read

When a manager and employee sit down to create goals, the conversation typically centers around what the employee will do for the organization:

What is expected of the employee over a certain stretch of time, and how will their productivity impact other team members? What steps can the employee take to contribute to the organization’s success?

These questions focus on employee performance, but managers should also be discussing professional development goals. Development conversations should center around what the organization can do to support employees and their future aspirations.

Professional development goals are vitally important to both the success and engagement of the employee. If employee skills and knowledge remain stagnant, they may not grow or be motivated to push themselves. Creating employee development plans encourages employees to expand their horizons and improve, enhancing their skillsets and the entire team in the process.

Here are five major benefits provided by professional development goals:


1. They give employees a voice.

Rather than simply tell an employee what they should improve on, managers should listen and understand how an employee would like to grow. Professional development goals open the lines of communication and give employees a platform to explain their vision for the future. They might be interested in developing additional skills, learning how their work affects other departments, or adopting new technology that could help their performance. These learning experiences benefit both the individual and the organization and are critical to having effective career conversations.

2. They help build previously undiscovered muscles.

If an athlete performs the same workout every day, they’re not going to improve. They will maintain their current level of fitness, but they won’t get faster or stronger. The same is true with any skill. Our minds need to be stretched in different directions to continue growing in new and different ways. The more tactics and opinions an employee is exposed to, the more ideas they can generate to increase productivity and update stale processes. Create an employee development plan to open employees to ideas they hadn’t previously considered.

3. They help teams stay up-to-date on industry changes.

The state of business is constantly evolving as new techniques, practices, and technology are introduced. Employees should be empowered to keep up with the latest trends. Encourage them to embrace new technology, expand their education, and increase emotional intelligence to keep your business moving at lightning speed.

4. They increase employee buy­-in and engagement.

Employees want to know they’re valued as people, not just for what they do at work. When managers go out of their way to ask employees about their developmental aspirations, it shows they are recognizing the employee as an individual. This gives employees a sense of great value, increases engagement, and pushes them to grow and work more efficiently. Managers should be very intentional in recognizing individual employee skills and suggesting specific areas of growth based on the employee’s interests. They must also be open and willing to listen as the employee shares areas in which they would like to improve.

5. They help employees move beyond work goals.

Managers should know who their employees want to be, not just the job they want. Managers should be comfortable discussing development outside of just organizational and team constructs. Growth should be defined in terms of the employee as a human, not just a worker – this allows the manager to tap into their motivations and discover what drives them. Maybe they’re passionate about personal finance, disciplined when it comes to health and fitness, or generous when it comes to lending their talents. By framing development conversations in terms outside of just compensation or job status, managers can help their employees grow as people and set them up for future success.

It’s easy to see why it’s important to work with employees to set developmental goals. To get started and see best practices, download our free ebook, Employee Development.

How to set professional development goals for success

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Your skill set is your career capital. That’s why it’s so important to invest time and energy into your professional development. By doing so, you’ll hone your functional expertise, get better at the job you have now, and prepare yourself to take the next step in your career (and the one after that, and the one after that).

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So it’s no surprise that professional development is top priority for so many career-minded folks. In fact, in a 2018 survey of users of The Muse, having access to learning and development opportunities was the most important factor for job-seekers—even more than compensation.

But you don’t have to wait for your company to provide on-the-job training for you. You can take initiative to set your own professional development goals and build a strategy to reach them. The best part? You can make progress toward your goals whether you’re working from home, between jobs, or employed full-time.

That said, figuring out how to set and reach your own goals does take thought and careful commitment. Here’s how to tackle the task:

1. Start With Your End Goal in Mind

If you don’t have a target, it’s hard to hit the bullseye. First, envision your future. Where do you want to be? What will your title be? What kind of company will you work for? What new skills will you have? What will you have achieved?

Then, work backward for each answer. Figure out what it will take to get there, the skills and experience required, and any training or certification you’ll need.

2. Review Your Most Recent Performance Evaluation

Not sure what you need to work on? Look back at your last performance review for hints about where you could use some upgrades.

Or ask your boss, “If I could improve one thing in the next quarter, what do you think would help me most?”

3. Set SMART Goals

If your objectives are too vague, your to-do list will be all over the place. To make sure that your goals are easy to understand—and it’s clear when they’re reached—they should be:

  • Specific: Your goal must be clear and distinct. Make sure you know what you want to accomplish, why it’s important, who is involved, where you need to be to complete the task, and which resources you need to do it.
  • Measurable: This helps you track your progress towards accomplishing the task.
  • Achievable: It needs to be realistic in order for you to succeed.
  • Relevant: Your goal has to matter to you, and it must align with your other goals and long-term plans.
  • Time-bound: Every goal needs a deadline to keep you accountable.

For example, you might set a goal of completing a certification course before the end of the year or building a basic one-page personal website before the end of the month.

4. Create a Strategy for Reaching Each Goal

Break down your goals into smaller tasks to give yourself achievable milestones along the way. For example, if your goal is to get an Excel certification, you might research online training courses and certification costs. Then, you’d ask your HR department if there’s a budget for learning and development. Next, you’d sign up for a course. Finally, you’d take (and pass!) the certification exam.

5. Make Time to Pursue Your Goal

No matter what your objective is, you’ll need to consciously carve out the space in your schedule to make it happen. You may have to temporarily cut out one activity, like watching TV. Or you could set aside one hour a day in the morning, at night, or on your lunch break to work on your goal.

6. Regularly Check in With Yourself

Make a weekly or monthly appointment to track your progress. How’s it going? How are you doing? You may also consider pairing up with a friend or coworker to keep each other on track.

When setting out to accomplish something, it’s effective to set a goal to help you visualize and actualize your success. Using the SMART goal method allows you to take specific steps that quantify your progress to your goal. In this article, you will learn how to set achievable and measurable goals using the SMART goal strategy.

What are SMART goals?

SMART is an acronym used to describe the process of setting goals. The acronym stands for the words “specific,” “measurable,” “achievable,” “relevant” and “time-bound,” which are essential traits of setting objectives. The SMART method provides a way to measure your progress and be accountable for your success. Setting SMART goals allow you to realistically evaluate what you are trying to achieve by assessing what actions to take to reach your goal.

For example, you might set a goal to “get better” at typing. However, upon evaluating this goal using the SMART method, you see that your goal is quite vague. By restating your goal in quantifiable terms, as “be able to type more words per minute,” you have a SMART goal that can be obtained. The characteristics of this goal can then be further detailed to reflect the remaining traits of the SMART goal process.

SMART Goals:
Specific
Measurable
Attainable
Relevant
Time-based

How to set SMART goals

When you decide to set a goal for yourself, consider following the SMART steps to help you achieve your objectives:

  1. Make your goal specific.
  2. Make your goal measurable.
  3. Make your goal achievable.
  4. Make sure it is relevant.
  5. Create a time-bound schedule.

1. Make your goal specific.

The first step in creating an attainable goal is to get specific with how you describe it. Consider it in quantifiable terms and determine what actions you need to get there. The examples below show how you can fine-tune a broad objective into a specific SMART goal.

Example goal before “specific” criteria: “I want to get better at typing.”

Example goal after “specific” criteria: “I want to increase my typing speed.”

This example goal takes a broad statement that could present different approaches and actions—like learning the proper typing techniques or not having to look at the keyboard while typing—and makes it more specific by evaluating which aspect of typing can be set as a goal. This example can then be further evaluated to check that it fits the remaining criteria of a SMART goal.

2. Make your goal measurable

After setting your specific goal, it is time to evaluate how you will take action to measure it. This step in the SMART process prompts you to apply methods of measuring your progress toward achieving your goal. Being measurable also takes into account any actions you would implement to help you further your progress toward your goal. For instance, this may take the form of tracking the time it takes you to complete an action or meet a milestone. The following example shows the evolution of a broad goal into a specific and measurable one.

Example goal before “measurable” criteria: “I will increase my typing speed.”

Example goal after “measurable” criteria: “I would like to increase my typing speed from 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute, and I can measure my progress by taking timed tests that show the increase in my typing speed.”

3. Make your goal achievable

After writing a specific goal and evaluating how you will measure it, consider if your set objective how achievable it is. Considering how long it will take, potential obstacles, and measurement methods will all help you determine the realistic odds of achieving your set goal. The more realistic and achievable the goal, the more likely you will be to keep working toward it. Consider the following examples that illustrate a “before” and “after” effect when applying the “achievable” criteria to your goal.

Example goal before “achievable” criteria: “I will increase my typing speed of 50 words per minute to 100 words per minute.”

Example goal after “achievable” criteria: “I would like to increase my typing speed of 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute, and I can achieve this goal by making small increases in my typing speed each week.”

This aspect of the SMART strategy also relates to your goal being measurable. With a specific measurable goal, it is more likely to be achievable because it can allow you to see exactly how you will achieve your progress as you work toward the goal. While the example goal of reaching 100 words per minute could be achievable, when related to the rest of the SMART criteria, it could be that this goal will not be achievable in the time frame you scheduled, or that it will require more resources to get there.

4. Make sure it is relevant

When a goal is relevant, it relates directly to a skill or professional development strategy that you want to improve. For instance, if you wanted to receive a high mark on your next employee evaluation, it would make sense to set a goal to help you improve your skills and workflow to progress to that goal. Additionally, any milestones you set or actions you take to achieve your goal should directly influence your progress. The examples below show how the “relevant” trait is applied.

Example goal before “relevant” criteria: “I would like to increase my typing speed, so I will set aside 15 minutes every day to organize my workspace.”

Example goal after “relevant” criteria: “I would like to increase my typing speed from 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute, so I will set aside 15 minutes every day to practice my typing and take timed speed tests.”

This example highlights a relevant action that can be taken to help progress toward achieving the goal. Your goal and measurable actions should be all be coherently related.

5. Create a time-bound schedule

Time-bound refers to the timeline you set for working toward your goals as well as how long it will take you to meet milestones and achieve your final results. Consider if your goal is a short-term or long-term goal. From there, you can determine a timeline and set a schedule for yourself to meet deadlines and get to your objective. Your timeline should also be realistic and allow you plenty of opportunities to make adjustments to your goal regarding its relevance, specificity and attainability. Consider the final step in the SMART process in the following example.

Example goal before “time-bound” criteria: “I will increase my typing speed of 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute by setting aside 15 minutes every day to practice speed typing and take timed tests.”

Example goal after “time-bound” criteria: “I will increase my typing speed of 50 words per minute to 65 words per minute within three months. I will set aside 15 minutes each day to practice at speed and take timed tests weekly to measure my progress.”

This goal now fits all the criteria of a SMART goal because it shows how specific the objective is, outlines a way to measure progress, is achievable and relevant to the desired skill development and sets up a timeline for each milestone and overall completion of the goal.

How to set professional development goals for success

March 15, 2019 | 2 minute read

When a manager and employee sit down to create goals, the conversation typically centers around what the employee will do for the organization:

What is expected of the employee over a certain stretch of time, and how will their productivity impact other team members? What steps can the employee take to contribute to the organization’s success?

These questions focus on employee performance, but managers should also be discussing professional development goals. Development conversations should center around what the organization can do to support employees and their future aspirations.

Professional development goals are vitally important to both the success and engagement of the employee. If employee skills and knowledge remain stagnant, they may not grow or be motivated to push themselves. Creating employee development plans encourages employees to expand their horizons and improve, enhancing their skillsets and the entire team in the process.

Here are five major benefits provided by professional development goals:


1. They give employees a voice.

Rather than simply tell an employee what they should improve on, managers should listen and understand how an employee would like to grow. Professional development goals open the lines of communication and give employees a platform to explain their vision for the future. They might be interested in developing additional skills, learning how their work affects other departments, or adopting new technology that could help their performance. These learning experiences benefit both the individual and the organization and are critical to having effective career conversations.

2. They help build previously undiscovered muscles.

If an athlete performs the same workout every day, they’re not going to improve. They will maintain their current level of fitness, but they won’t get faster or stronger. The same is true with any skill. Our minds need to be stretched in different directions to continue growing in new and different ways. The more tactics and opinions an employee is exposed to, the more ideas they can generate to increase productivity and update stale processes. Create an employee development plan to open employees to ideas they hadn’t previously considered.

3. They help teams stay up-to-date on industry changes.

The state of business is constantly evolving as new techniques, practices, and technology are introduced. Employees should be empowered to keep up with the latest trends. Encourage them to embrace new technology, expand their education, and increase emotional intelligence to keep your business moving at lightning speed.

4. They increase employee buy­-in and engagement.

Employees want to know they’re valued as people, not just for what they do at work. When managers go out of their way to ask employees about their developmental aspirations, it shows they are recognizing the employee as an individual. This gives employees a sense of great value, increases engagement, and pushes them to grow and work more efficiently. Managers should be very intentional in recognizing individual employee skills and suggesting specific areas of growth based on the employee’s interests. They must also be open and willing to listen as the employee shares areas in which they would like to improve.

5. They help employees move beyond work goals.

Managers should know who their employees want to be, not just the job they want. Managers should be comfortable discussing development outside of just organizational and team constructs. Growth should be defined in terms of the employee as a human, not just a worker – this allows the manager to tap into their motivations and discover what drives them. Maybe they’re passionate about personal finance, disciplined when it comes to health and fitness, or generous when it comes to lending their talents. By framing development conversations in terms outside of just compensation or job status, managers can help their employees grow as people and set them up for future success.

It’s easy to see why it’s important to work with employees to set developmental goals. To get started and see best practices, download our free ebook, Employee Development.

How to set professional development goals for success

Image by Maritsa Patrinos © The Balance 2019

You may feel setting long-term and short-term goals is a waste of time, especially if you live by the old proverb, “Man plans, God laughs.” Don’t make that mistake. Not planning for the future can make for a chaotic one.

How Setting Goals Affects Your Career Success

Setting goals is a significant component of the career planning process. To have a successful and satisfying career, define your goals and devise a strategy to achieve them. A roadmap that will take you from choosing an occupation to working and succeeding at it is called a career action plan.

Your career action plan must have both long and short-term goals. It is imperative to include the steps to take to reach each one, along with ways to get around barriers that might get in your way.

Since plans, even very well-thought-out ones, don’t always work out, it is also essential to include alternatives to implement when the need arises.

The Difference Between Short and Long Term Goals

Goals are broadly classified into two categories: short-term goals and long-term goals. You will be able to accomplish a short-term goal in approximately six months to three years, while it will usually take three to five years to reach a long-term one. Sometimes you can achieve a short-term goal in fewer than three months and a long-term one may take more than five years to complete.

To achieve each long-term goal, you must first accomplish a series of both short-term goals and additional long-term goals. For example, let’s say you aspire to become a doctor. That may be your ultimate long-term goal, but before you can tackle it, you must achieve a few others, for example, complete college (four years), medical school (another four years), and a medical residency (three to eight years).

Along the road to reaching those long-term goals, there are several short-term goals to clear first. They include excelling in entrance exams and applying to college, medical school, and eventually residencies. Since grades matter when it comes to achieving those goals, it is necessary to break your short-term goals down even further, like earning a high-grade point average.

7 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Reaching Your Goals

Your hard work will play the most prominent role in your success, but if you don’t formulate your goals correctly, it will be much more challenging to accomplish them. Your short-term and long-term goals must meet the following criteria:

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Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.

How to set professional development goals for success

There are many paths to personal growth. Friedrich Nietzsche is quoted as saying, “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” and this can absolutely be true. But challenges that nearly destroy us aren’t the only path to greater personal development.

Setting goals for your own personal development can be an effective (and less stressful) way to grow emotionally and intellectually. Goal-setting can help you to succeed as a person in the ways that are important to you and can help you to streamline your life, minimize stress, and really become the person you were meant to be in far less time. It can also help you to stay mentally sharp as any lifetime learner can tell you.

Goals Worth Going After

Personal growth means different things to different people, but the following goals can be widely helpful in creating a life filled with healthy habits, greater happiness, and meaning in life.

Learn What Is Most Important to You

We all have values that are a vital part of who we are. To some people, artistic expression is an indispensable part of who they are, and they fare much better if they are creating, at least some of the time, in their lives. To some, helping others is something they must do, and the meaning it brings to them and others is what makes life valuable. Others need to be solving problems to feel alive.

The reason it matters to realize this is that many people fill their time with things that are important but aren’t aligned with their values, with what they value most in life. If you analyze what is important to you, you can set goals to ensure that you make this a greater part of your life.

Pinpoint Where You’re Limiting Yourself

Many people self-sabotage in one way or another without realizing it. Perhaps you don’t believe that you’re capable of achieving things that you really want to achieve, and you limit yourself by not trying. Perhaps you’re not allowing yourself to devote enough time to your goals because you’re getting bogged down by other things in your schedule that are less important but that you feel “must” be done.

One way to identify this subtle self-sabotage is to focus on living each day as though it were pivotal to your success in life. Is everything you’re doing important, and contributing to your success? If you view things through this lens, it’s easier to identify energy drains and time wasters, as well as those things that hold you back.

Take Care of Your Health

When your health is compromised, it’s more challenging to focus on your goals in life. This is obviously true when facing serious health conditions, but it’s also true of less serious types of health compromises.

For example, most of us feel far more stressed and are not at our best when we haven’t had adequate sleep for a few nights in a row or have eaten unhealthy food for a few days. Focusing on taking care of your health can make a huge impact on the rest of your life.

Use Your Time Wisely

Time management is an important goal in itself. When you manage your time wisely, you have more energy and a far greater ability to pursue other things in life that are important to you. Time management enables you to maximize time spent in activities that feed you, motivate you, and help you develop yourself as a person.

Develop One Habit a Month

You may not be able to transform yourself in a few weeks, but focusing heavily on creating new habits on a regular basis can be transformative over the course of several months or years. The trick is to get into the habit of forming habits. Focus the bulk of your energy on making something new a standard part of your life, and then move on once you’ve become comfortable with it. This is the time to create a new habit.

Surround Yourself With Role Models

Have just one friend who is farther along on the path you hope to travel. Life coaches refer to these people as “expert friends” and they can be life-changing as they’ll have tips and inspiration you can pick up just by watching them be themselves. With these friends, watching becomes doing. This is also supported by social learning theory, which explains how it makes things easier when you have a friend to help you along the way.

Develop a Supportive Group

Using the momentum of a group can really help you to reach your goals. This is because peer pressure can be a strong influencer, so using it to your advantage is wise. Having people who can cheer you on when you win and help you to feel better when you lose can make all the difference with your success.

Unfortunately, not all friends are able to support you in this way. Some people naturally feel envious when their friends succeed too much. So if you notice a friend being less than supportive when you reach a goal (and you have been supportive of them), you may want to simply avoid sharing your successes with this friend and move on to friends who are genuinely thrilled with your success and able to support you when you aren’t as successful as you’d like to be.

Remember to be this kind of friend as well. Another idea is to find a group already focused on the goals you’re trying to attain. You’ll have built-in support, enthusiasm, and practical tips.

Learn Something New Each Month (or Year)

Self-development takes real focus. Learning a new language, for example, or developing a new skill can take time, and focusing the bulk of your energy toward immersing yourself in the pursuit of a goal is a great way to reach it. This is ideal when you want to really go deep in your knowledge and ability.

Follow Your Passion

You don’t have to pursue your hobbies as a career in order to fully explore them. It’s wonderful if you can make money doing what you love, but it doesn’t have to be a profession to be worth your time. Activities like this allow you to experience a sense of flow, which can increase your happiness level and decrease stress as well. This means that you’ll experience benefits far beyond the mere acquisition of a new pastime.

How to Maintain Goals

Identifying goals to go after is an important first step. However, it’s also important to know how to pursue your goals. There are a few tricks to maintaining goals or adopting healthy habits.

  • Set the right goals
  • Take small, concrete steps
  • Reward yourself along the way
  • Consider slip-ups to be part of the process

Maintaining goals can be a little more involved than that, but this is the basic process. The vast majority of people who try to set personal growth goals tend to abandon them because they set their goals too high (or the wrong goals for their lifestyle), try to make too big of a change in too short of a time, don’t congratulate themselves for making progress on their goals, and give up if they have a slip. True success comes from breaking your goals down into smaller steps, rewarding your progress and, perhaps most importantly, trying again if you find yourself slipping up.

Setting personal goals that can really improve your life and then sticking with them can help you to live the life you always hoped to have.