12 Professional Development Goals Examples to Set Right Now

Because Your Professional Development Depends On It

Today, I want to draw upon my 30 years of business experience to address and review the best professional development goals examples.


So, you can learn from my successes and failures. And to help you become the best professional that you can be.

Doing so by choosing, setting, and achieving the right professional development goals for your current situation.

Let’s not waste any time…

Professional Development Goals Examples

Here are my 12 suggested professional development goals to jump-start your career:

  • Make a personal development plan
  • Get input from the right people
  • Look and feel your best
  • Get to know yourself very well
  • Be efficient with your time
  • Never stop learning
  • Develop soft skills
  • Enhance leadership skills
  • Improve workplace skills
  • Do more
  • Become an educator
  • Get results and enjoy them

Next, I want to go through each of these areas one by one. So I can provide nearly 70 more ideas for professional development goals.

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Disclosure: At no cost to you, I may get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

Make A Personal Development Plan

All good things start with a solid development plan. So, determine where you are at today. And where you want to go in the future.

In other words, how to get from point A to point B. Doing so in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

Therefore, individual development plan goals can and should include:

  • Identifying your current state
  • Being great at what you do today
  • Defining your personal value proposition
  • Developing a vision for your development
  • Establishing your personal brand

Okay. We are just getting warmed up. Because more professional development examples are on the way…

Get Input From The Right People

While you are creating your plan, seek feedback. Solicit input from your boss, colleagues, and other professionals that you know.

You should also be your own worst critic. So, take notes anytime an opportunity for professional improvement strikes you.

Treat your development like a growing business. Furthermore, be a tough but good manager of that business. The business of you!

Most importantly, steer clear of anyone that seeks to tear you down.

Professional development objectives in this area include:

  • Finding a mentor
  • Seeking out performance feedback
  • Being open to constructive criticism
  • Keeping a journal of ideas
  • Removing toxic people from your life

Moving right along, here are some excellent goals for professional development…

Look And Feel Your Best

To develop as a professional, you have to feel good. And keep your energy level high.

Thus, your professional growth depends on doing these things:

  • Eating well
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Getting fit and staying fit
  • Finding work-life balance
  • Managing stress
  • Managing your energy level

Get To Know Yourself Very Well

Next, take stock of yourself.  Once again, this is a process of determining where you stand today. So you can create ways to move productively toward the future you desire.

Most importantly, no one knows your professional development needs better than you.

Here are some examples of development objectives in this area:

  • Identify and improve upon your weaknesses
  • Identify and work to your strengths
  • Know your limits and work around them
  • Change to a better career field

Be Efficient With Your Time

Time is the great equalizer. Because no matter one’s wealth, talent, or experience we all have the same amount of time each day to get things done.

Good development goals in this area include:

  • Improving your time management skills
  • Working smarter not harder
  • Learning when to say no
  • Becoming more decisive
  • Adopting a new personal productivity technology

Never Stop Learning

What I have found is development is fostered by learning.

So, learn as much as you can. Whenever you can. Because it is important to never stop learning.

Thus, when you write professional development goals, look to these potential activities:

  • Read a relevant book
  • Reflect and learn from failure
  • Become a better more active listener
  • Further your formal education
  • Get straight A’s in your courses
  • Obtain a professional certification
  • Participate in a professional organization
  • Expand your professional network
  • Increase knowledge and skills through training
  • Get an internship

Develop Soft Skills

I found one thing to be true in my business career. Specifically, people with poor soft skills rarely go far.

Yes, there are outliers. Those who may prosper for a while. Until their lack of soft skills catches up to them.

Or, others with great technical expertise. In a niche area that is experiencing strong demand.

Otherwise, I suggest you focus on these potential professional development goals examples for work:

  • Improve your self-confidence
  • Increase your interpersonal skills
  • Improve your body language
  • Become a better collaborator
  • Master public speaking
  • Build better relationships
  • Develop confidence and presence
  • Practice active listening skills
  • Become more adaptable
  • Increase your emotional intelligence
  • Set a good example
  • Improve communication skills
  • Collaborate more effectively

Enhance Leadership Skills

One of my former bosses used to say “lead, follow, or get out of the way”

And what I have found is that improving one’s leadership skills goes a long way toward achieving professional development examples and the success that comes with doing so.

Thus, professional goals for bringing out the leader in you should include:

  • Embracing and capitalizing on the one constant: change
  • Attaining higher levels of leadership responsibility
  • Thinking strategically
  • Building a strong team
  • Knowing your team’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Putting your team members in the right structure
  • Leading an ad-hoc team, project, or function

And before you go, before sure to check out this article about leadership skills and goals development. In case you want to dive deeper into this topic.

Continuing, let’s move into professional development goals for work examples

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Improve Workplace Skills

Getting the right things done at work. And doing them the right way. Are both super important for personal development and professional growth

Because today is the only thing that is promised, so always take care of the day in front of you.

Look to being better today than you were yesterday. And better tomorrow than you were today.

So, consider these examples of professional development goals to improve your skills in the workplace:

  • Cross-train in another functional area
  • Get international experience
  • Master a new skill
  • Audit a process & improve it
  • Better utilize your workplace technology

Next up, creating good goals for professional development also means you should look to…

Do More

Anyone who continually does more with less is on the right path. Because efficiency and productivity are at the core of employee business goals. And, the entire economy for that matter.

As a result, think about these examples of professional development ideas for doing more…

  • Take on new challenges
  • Accept increased responsibility
  • Make a lateral career move

Without delay, upcoming is one of my favorite goals for professional development…

Become An Educator

I’ve trained and mentored countless staff members and associates. I also taught business school courses for several years.

And this is what I learned from it…

Specifically, you develop more as a professional when you have to teach someone how to do something. Rather than doing it yourself.

Because it takes a much more in-depth knowledge base to teach. While promoting employee engagement.

So, consider developing professionally by…

Get Results And Enjoy Them

As you continue to develop. Both personally and professionally. Do you know what will happen?

If not, let me tell you this: with development comes results. And the rewards that come with those results.

Thus, set results-based professional development goals such as…

  • Become recognized as an expert in your field
  • Win an award in your industry
  • Earn a promotion
  • Land your dream job
  • Make more money

And when you get results. Be sure to update your resume.

For this, I like using MyPerfectResume.

Okay. That concludes the discussion of 12 types of professional development goals. Along with 71 professional development examples for establishing your career development plan.

Next up, choosing and setting goals…

How To Choose From This List Of Professional Development Goals Examples

You can’t try to tackle all of these types of goals at once. Nor should you try.

Thus, go back to the second type of goal we discussed. Specifically, getting input from the right people.

So, to choose your professional goals…

Solicit feedback from your boss, peers, colleagues, mentors, and anyone else you are associated with professionally. Ask them where you need to improve.

My hunch is that some common themes will develop. As these individuals constructively uncover your weaknesses. Requiring professional development attention.

As result, take their input. And use it as a means to choose the most important development goals for your current circumstances. Also, for making your long-term personal development goals into a plan.

How To Set SMART Professional Development Goals

Next, to set your goals, use the SMART goals system. That just means making your goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

I have an entire article covering goal setting. In case setting professional goals is a topic you need to brush up on.

Time Frames For Setting Professional Development Goals

The last point in the SMART system is making your goals time-bound. So, choose a mix of…

Short-Term Professional Development Goals

Short-term means professional development objectives targeted for completion within a year.

Medium-Term Professional Development Goals

Medium-term indicates professional development ideas for completion within 1-5 years.

Long-Term Career Goals

While long-term goals are completed more than 5 years out.

How To Achieve Professional Development Goals

When it comes to achieving goals I believe in approaching them with these 5 steps:

  • Create the right mindset
  • Make a plan
  • Take action
  • Create an environment for success
  • Monitor your progress

Once again, I have created an entire post about the steps required to achieve goals. It elaborates on these important activities. So, check it out to increase your odds of success.

Okay. That’s all I have for today.

So, allow me to wrap up with a few parting thoughts…

Professional Development Goals Examples: Wrap Up

If you made it this far, you are to be congratulated. Why?

Because it tells me you are taking your professional development seriously. And that’s the first step in the right direction.

Specifically, identifying there is a need to become a better professional. And moving to address that need by learning new skills.

That’s what self-development and continuous improvement are all about.

All for now. Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this article. You might enjoy our other posts about…

Setting and Achieving Goals

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The article’s conclusion is indicated on a whiteboard

Author Bio: Tom Scott founded the consulting and coaching firm Dividends Diversify, LLC. He leverages his expertise and decades of experience in goal setting, relocation assistance, and investing for long-term wealth to help clients reach their full potential.

Examining Examples Of Professional Development Goals