How Do I Set Professional Development Goals?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 09 April 2018
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In order to set professional development goals, you must begin by figuring out where you hope your professional aspirations will lead. Having an overarching aspiration, such as becoming a manager or even attaining a job at a specific company, can help elucidate what concrete steps will lead to the accomplishment of this goal. Once a broad goal has been established, specific goals that will eventually lead to that larger goal must be identified. Planning not only how but also when you will meet these smaller goals can help keep you on track to achieving professional development goals.

Setting professional development goals involves a lot of planning and research. In order to figure out how to reach development goals, you must first figure out what skills you need to develop. If a person is already on the path toward his or her ultimate goal, figuring out how to be the best employee possible within a current job is likely the best way to set professional development goals. On the other hand, if a person has yet to obtain a job in a desirable field, he or she may be better served by looking into the qualifications needed to break into that field.

Figuring out what skills relate to your profession is not always easy. Looking at job descriptions can be one way to identify relevant skills, but a more personalized method involves talking to a manager about your performance. A performance review is an excellent chance to make plans for professional development because the required skills and your performance are all evaluated and organized from an external perspective. Ideally, you should not only meet the requirements of your job but also exceed expectations.

Rating yourself in these skills is always a possibility, but more objective ratings are often more helpful. Setting goals is not only about determining what skills need to be learned, but how you will go about learning them as well. Classes, practice, and study plans can all be helpful when attempting to set professional development goals. Reasonable time lines are very important when creating this type of goal, as learning is often complicated by the demands of work.

When setting professional development goals, one of the most important steps is formalizing the objectives. This may mean simply writing down the goals and the ways in which they will be achieved, or it may be a more involved process. Some people find that creating a booklet or journal in which goals are recorded is highly effective because it solidifies a commitment and allows a person to track his or her progress. Strategies for maintaining motivation should be a part of setting professional development goals as well, because goals that are quickly abandoned are useless.



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