What Are Personal Development Goals? (With Examples)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 12 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Creating and achieving goals may have a positive impact on your life and career. You may set goals that allow you to discover valuable information or enhance your skills. If you want to improve your work performance, reviewing examples of personal development goals may be useful for you. In this article, we discuss what personal development goals are and provide a list of examples for you to consider.

What are personal development goals?

Personal development goals are the objectives you can create to improve your skills, character and work ethic, which may impact your work performance positively. Often, setting these goals enables you to review your current behaviours and abilities to identify areas of improvement. After understanding potential improvements, you can set goals that help you optimise your potential.

Tips for creating goals for personal development

Here are some tips to help you create effective goals:

Write your goals down

Generally, it's helpful to write your goals on a piece of paper or type them out in a document. Be sure to include specific details about each goal, like the benefits, deadline and important steps to complete it. After writing your list of goals for personal development, you can place the list somewhere that you see it often. This may remind you of your goals and help you keep track of your progress.

Use the SMART method

When creating goals, it may be useful to follow the SMART framework to decide on goals that are manageable and achievable. Here are the different parts of the SMART goal framework:

  • Specific: It's important that you create goals that are specific and include thorough details. Doing so may help you stay focused.

  • Measurable: Create metrics that you may use to measure your progress towards your goal. This can help you determine if you're on track to hit your goal by a specific deadline or if you can modify your steps so it's more manageable.

  • Achievable: Be sure to set realistic goals that you may achieve by the deadline you set, rather than setting unattainable objectives.

  • Relevant: Check that your goals can benefit your personal or professional life. Choosing goals that have positive benefits may motivate you to complete them.

  • Time-based: Set a deadline for your goal, then create steps according to the proper timeframe. This may enable you to finish your steps more efficiently.

Find a colleague to keep you accountable

Try to find a colleague or friend that you can check in with so that you may update them on your progress. This may improve your accountability since you can share your progress, challenges and changes. Consider meeting with your colleague routinely, like weekly or monthly, so that you can update them frequently.

10 examples of goals for personal development

While your goals may relate to your job, you may also complete goals that involve your personal life, like starting a new workout routine or finishing a book. Here are some examples of goals that you may set to achieve personal development:

1. Grow your network

Try growing your network to develop your interpersonal skills, like communication and listening. Typically, the two types of individuals in your network involve your personal contacts and professional contacts. Your professional network involves the contacts you have in your field, like colleagues, mentors, supervisors or clients. You can grow this network by attending industry events or creating a profile on a professional networking website. Your personal network involves the individuals in your personal life, like family members, colleagues, classmates or acquaintances.

You may add personal contacts to your network by creating a social media account, joining clubs or attending social events. To help you measure the growth of your network, try estimating the number of contacts that you have in your network currently. Then, choose a number that you want to multiply your network by, such as 10% or 25%.

Related: The Value of Networking for Professionals (With Tips)

2. Learn a new language

To further develop your communication skills, consider learning a new language. By doing so, you may connect with individuals that have a different background than you. Consider expanding your qualifications because employers often prefer to hire candidates who speak more than one language.

You may sign up for an online or in-person course where you can practise a different language, or you may work one-on-one with a language coach who can provide you with guidance on language tips and techniques. When writing this goal, be sure to specify the language that you want to learn and the level of fluency that you want to achieve, like a professional working proficiency or bilingual proficiency.

3. Switch careers

If you want to switch careers, consider setting a personal development goal that involves changing careers within a specific timeframe. By doing so, you may begin applying to new jobs and completing the application process so that you can change careers by your desired deadline. For example, if you want to change careers by the end of next year, then you might begin updating your resume and submitting applications.

Related: How to Make a Career Change at 50 (With Steps and Tips)

4. Create a website

Creating a website may help you learn new technical skills. Create a goal that allows you to develop a website so you may learn about processes you're unfamiliar with and grow your skills and experience. Be sure to specify the type of website that you want to create and set a deadline to complete it.

Related: 15 Professional Skills for the Workplace (Plus Definition and Tips)

5. Read a book about a different industry

Consider reading a book that provides you with information about a field you haven't worked in previously, so that you may expand your knowledge. There are several informative books and guides that discuss an industry's purpose, common processes, employee practices and benefits. Doing so may also help you better understand your career interests. For example, if you read a book about the marketing industry, you may find that you want to pursue a career in that field.

6. Change a negative habit

Try to identify a habit in your behaviours that you may want to change. Consider a habit that impacts your work or makes it challenging to complete other tasks throughout your day. After identifying this habit, create steps that allow you to minimise the maladaptive behaviour until you're no longer performing it at all. For example, if you're late to work often, you may practise time management skills, like waking up earlier and preparing breakfast the day before, to change your habit and improve your work performance.

7. Perform public speaking

Consider speaking in public to expand communication skills and confidence. Try speaking at a seminar or conference in your industry, or volunteer to speak at a local event. Doing so may help you feel more comfortable when giving presentations at work. Even if your position rarely involves public speaking, you may feel more confident when working with clients or colleagues after practising speaking in public.

8. Volunteer

Consider volunteering to meet new people and learn different processes. By volunteering, you may help others while also developing your own skills. You can choose the organisation where you volunteer depending on your interests. Common volunteer organisations include charities, community organisations, food pantries and animal shelters. You may also volunteer for an industry-related event, such as volunteering to meet with new employees at your company or mentoring entry-level associates.

Related: How to Answer "What Are Your Long-Term Career Goals?"

9. Practise being mindful of those around you

Consider practising your mindfulness to grow your empathy and awareness. To do so, consider pausing every few minutes to observe your surroundings. You may notice that your colleague needs help with a project or that your office may benefit from cleaning.

Then, you can react to the situation appropriately, which may involve helping your colleague or performing light cleaning in your office. To be more mindful, consider breathing deeply and closing your eyes. After doing so, you may assess the situation and consider an appropriate response.

Related: What Is a Good Attitude at Work and 10 Ways to Improve Yours

10. Become a mentor

Consider becoming a mentor to an associate in your workplace so that you may help them develop their skills and maximise their potential. You can provide on-the-job guidance, answer questions or share your experience when starting at the company. Communicate with management to let them know you want to mentor a new employee, since many companies have mentorship programmes. Consider setting specific goals that you want to complete as a mentor, like if you want to help your mentee earn a higher wage or handle more responsibilities in their role.

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