Having goals is important. Setting professional development goals can help increase productivity, improve work quality and help advance careers at the workplace. 

So what are professional development goals? 

Are they important? 

How to set them? 

What are some examples of these goals? 

In this article, we answer it all. Let’s begin by defining professional development goals. 

What are Professional Development Goals?

Professional developmental goals are goals that are aimed at improving your career, enhancing your skills and competencies in the workplace. Goals at work can be from something minor like becoming more productive at work or big like aiming to become the  CEO of the company in 10 years. 

All goals require a few steps to be completed that are; a well-planned strategy, hard work every day, and a lot of motivation. In fact, one study claims that setting goals helps increase motivation by doubling effort and inducing focus. 

Goals can be different for everyone. Some people may consider improving their skills a goal, for some getting experience in something can be a goal. Let’s see why setting goals is important.

How to Set Professional Development Goals?

That brings us to how to set professional development goals. Take the following steps to set goals at work for yourself.

Prepare Your Mind

Envisioning your goal is important. If you don’t have a target to hit, hitting the bullseye is impossible. Ask yourself questions regarding the goal. What is it you’re trying to achieve? What company do you want to work for? What do you wish to achieve? What skills do you wish you had? 

Next, figure out what it will take to help you reach that target or what certifications and training will it require?

Look Back on Your Performances

We learn a great deal from the mistakes we made in the past. For that, keep an eye on how well you performed on the previous tasks and projects. Learn from the mistakes you made, improve them, and set goals for how you can avoid making the same mistakes in your future performances. A great idea is to ask your supervisor/subordinates about your shortcomings and then try to avoid them in the future. 

Make Your Goals SMART

Heard of SMART goals? Yes, they can help ease you down the path of reaching your goal. Sometimes if your goal is too vague, you’ll almost never get to meet it. Avoid that and make sure your goal is:


The more the goal is specific, the more are chances that you’ll meet it. When designing your goal, ask yourself 5 questions. Who will be the ones involved? What do you want to accomplish? What will this goal achieve? When will the goal be achieved? Why do you want to achieve this goal?


Quantifying your goals will help you track the progress of their accomplishment. Some questions to ask yourself during this step are: How much is this goal going to achieve? Is there a way to track the progress or failure on the path of meeting this goal? How will I find out if the goal is met?


Sure it’s great to have goals, but having unrealistic goals is just not the best idea. Make sure the goals you’re trying to meet are achievable. If someone has done it before, it’s a great goal to do the same. Even if no one has set foot in it before, trying won’t hurt anybody. Plus, check if you have the resources for it. 


Set those goals that concern you and align with your long-term goals fully. Having goals that don’t matter to you will only waste your time. 


Like all the things in the world, your goals should be time-bound. Start with a date and decide on a deadline. Stay loyal to the date, allocate resources, and set a realistic timeline for it. 

Create a Strategy  

All great plans run on some strategy. Make sure you develop a well-planned strategy that helps you meet your goal. Even if your goal is a huge one, break it into all the small steps needed to reach that goal. For instance, if you want to work at your dream job, looking for and enrolling yourself into training courses and certification is a step before that. Next, you would prepare for that and finally, you’ll apply (and get in!) for that job. 

Make Time for Your Goal

Although it’s pretty obvious that you’ll need time to reach your goals, make sure you carve out sufficient time to work on your goal. If you fail to do so or occasionally do that, you may not be able to hit that target. 

Follow Up with Yourself

Keep an eye on your progress. Make a list of all the things you were able to do and those you weren’t able to. As one step forward, you can pair up with someone who can track your progress for you and keep in check.

Importance of Setting Professional Goals

The Vision of the Future

It’s straightforward that establishing goals helps you get an idea of what you’ll be doing in the future. Having a particular goal helps you streamline all that you’ll need to meet it and help you identify your long-term aspirations. Goals help you define a vision of what you want to achieve. Secondly, it helps you take considerable action to meet those goals. 

Helps You Become Better 

Whether you’re an employer or an employee, setting professional development goals will help you become better over time. Employees that are goal-oriented are highly valued at any organization because of the value they add to the company instead of just doing regular work.

Helps You Better Your Existing Skills

We can’t be born perfect at any skill, there’s always room for improvement. Regularly practicing helps us get better and to do that we need to set goals. At any workplace honing the current skills helps employees grow and get better. 

Increase Productivity 

Setting professional goals surely helps increase productivity. When we set goals for ourselves, we constantly struggle to meet them and that provides the sense of achieving something. Besides, goals provide motivation and clarity for people in their jobs. 

Examples of Professional Development Goals

Now let’s see what can professional development goals look like:

#1: Learning New Skills

Professional development means you’re constantly learning new things and adding to your skills. Enrolling yourself in new courses and training is a great way to enhance your skills and gain knowledge. Learning new skills doesn’t particularly have to be something huge and formal. Even gaining experience at a small task is a great goal to have. 

#2: Familiarizing Beforehand 

Imagine you were to introduce something new and cool to the company, for instance, a new tech tool. Familiarizing yourself with it beforehand will give you the ultimate experience and the confidence to introduce it to your employees. 

#3: Gain Feedback

One important professional goal to have at work is gaining feedback from those around you. It is the perfect way to know what are your shortcomings, your areas of improvement, and where you excelled. Constructive feedback allows you to become the better version of yourself and therefore in the next quarter you can nail everything even more so.

#4: Work on Your Presentation Skills

Your presentation skills say a lot about you. A well-prepared, enthusiastic, and verbose presentation makes everyone happy and fulls them with energy. On the other hand, a dull one doesn’t turn around many heads. So, it’s important to work on these skills. You can practice a few old presentations in front of the mirror and enhance your communication skills. Remember practice is the key. 

#5: Learn How Things Work in the Workplace

As a manager, you must make it your goal to know how things run around in your organization. Learning about all the departments, their workers, your employees, and how things operate in them, will help you become a great manager. You’ll also break down any obstacles and issues you face, more effectively.

#6: Build a Good Remote Work System

With the uncertainty that prevails now, work-life is unpredictable. Take a couple of days and develop an effective remote work strategy that will help keep things running smoothly even when people aren’t working from the office. Additionally, you can also take online courses that’ll help you manage remote teams effectively. 

#7: Learn How to Give Great Feedback

A part of great management involves giving constructive feedback to employees on their performance. One of the best professional development goals to have is improving that ability. Not only will it help your employees get better at their work, but it’ll also improve your position in the organization. Plus, your employees will respect you for being honest and helping them improve. 

#8: Get a Certificate or Degree

Being a manager you hardly get time. But consider getting a certificate or even a degree in something you’ve always wanted to learn. It can even be a skill or can be a training course. Continuing your education improves your current skills and can help you apply for future promotions or even change careers.

#9: Improve Your Communication Skills

From talking to your employees to having large meetings, everything requires communication skills. These skills can either make or break your entire personality. Having poor writing skills for instance can give a very bad impression to someone reading your email. 

Consider setting a professional development goal to improve your oral, written, and interpersonal communication skills. If the need is, you can also take a class to improve these skills. 

#10: Develop Networking Skills

Having good networking skills can open doors to many opportunities. Set a goal to enhance your ability to meet new people, network, and focus on building a stronger professional network. You can start by attending professional events and gaining more knowledge. 

#11: Learn to Manage Your Energy

It can be a great goal to have at work where you simply work on managing where your energy goes. Consider learning to focus on only high-priority work and giving your best effort in that. A minor issue that doesn’t require your attention can be left on its own. Most issues at the workplace are often trivial and don’t require you to spend a lot of energy on them.

#12: Apply for a Promotion

Applying for a promotion is a goal and a challenge in itself. Start by assessing what your next career role should be and then assess your qualifications. If you already meet the requirements, it can be a short-term goal. 

However, if you don’t, you’ll need to start working on it by gaining experience and the required qualification which is a long-term goal. Seeking a position with more responsibility could help you gain new skills and continue to enhance your career. 

#13: Read Professional Books

Reading professional books is a great idea if you want to focus on building professional development goals. Not only will reading help you learn a lot of new things it will also enhance your vocabulary. 

All Set to Have Professional Development Goals?

Professional development goals are objectives to improve your skills and motivation. Now it’s time for you to set some professional development goals and work on them. Once you do, you’ll become a better version of yourself professionally. It’ll also help you build productivity and help you in your career path.