How To Set Professional Development Goals | Light Up Ventures

How To Set Professional Development Goals

From the time we first enter school, we are taught that one of the most important things we can do to set ourselves up for success is to give ourselves different goals to hit. In high school this may look like getting two “As” and three “Bs” in our classes, or making the honor roll, and in college it may shift a little to making the dean’s list, or holding three internships by the time you graduate.
However old we are, goals are always a very important part of our lives, especially in our professional careers. In the blog below, we outline a few tips about how to effectively set professional development goals for yourself, including what questions to ask yourself to help you set the right goals, and what benefits goal setting can have for your career.

Questions to ask

Setting goals for yourself isn’t the easiest thing to do for most people. We tend to go back and forth between lofty expectations that may be a bit out of reach, or goals that may be too easy and not provide us with the extra motivation needed to push ourselves a little bit further than we are comfortable. Asking yourself the right questions can help you outline what appropriate goals may look like. Below are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the purpose of this goal?
    By asking yourself this question, you can better delineate if this is something you truly want, or if you feel like it is something you have to do. If your answer to that question is that it is a genuine desire for you to work on, then it is a good goal to move forward with.
  • What will I achieve?
    This question will help you identify the ideal end result of this goal. Are you looking to get promoted? Are you looking to get a new job? Are you looking to get a raise? By asking what you achieve, the ultimate result of your goal will become clearer to you and will help you create a more defined roadmap on how to be successful in achieving your goal.
  • What motivates me?
    Asking yourself this question has undoubtedly helped you along in your career. Knowing what motivates you helps you find your passions, your strengths, what you enjoy doing, etc. This should play a major role in helping you define your goal and figure out how to take the next steps to utilizing those motivating factors to achieving the goal.

Create a roadmap

These questions can help you put together a roadmap to success. Once you have that end result in mind (i.e. getting promoted, adding a new skill set, getting a new job, etc.), you can better put together a plan about how you can achieve those goals.
For example, if your goal is to learn a new skill set, once you have that end goal in mind, you can lay out the different steps you need to take to achieve that goal. You can look at different courses or classes you can take to learn more about that skill set, create a list of people to reach out to that may be able to help you with learning a new skill, put together a list of tests that can be taken to hone that new skill, etc.
Creating a roadmap is a skill that will help you further visualize the necessary steps you need to take to achieve the end goal.

Analyze Your Achievements

While the roadmap can help showcase what steps need to be taken to achieve your end goal, be sure to take time to recognize the progress you have made. Take time to compare your achievements to your timeline on your roadmap to success. Are you on target to achieve your goal? If so, you can rest easy knowing that your plan is successful and that you are getting closer to achieving your goal.
Not only will this help you feel confident about the hard work you are putting in, but it also will be a motivating factor to keep pushing you to take the next steps because you are within reach of your goal. Additionally, as you track the progress you are making on your goal, you may realize that things aren’t going according to plan and that you may need to adjust your approach and the various steps in your roadmap.
Being able to reflect and review the progress you are making is key because it can provide you with the extra motivation you need to continue pushing forward to achieve those goals.

Final Thoughts

Goal setting is one of the most important things we can do in our professional lives. Not only does it help continue to motivate us to push further and continue adding new skills to our resumes, but it also helps us map out where we want to ultimately end up in our careers.
Setting goals can be challenging, but by asking the right questions, mapping out your road to success, and analyzing your results, you can create a clear picture of what your goals look like and how they can be achieved. For more information on what questions you can ask yourself to help decide what your goals should look like, check out this Forbes article.


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