Personal Development Goals: What They Are And How To Reach Them

How To Set Personal Development Goals And Level Up Your Life

August 17, 2020 Updated December 14, 2020

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We can all agree that this year has basically been one huge bust in most respects, right? It is what it is. But there is a silver lining to our current scenario — there’s never been a better time to look to the future. So, it’s time to talk about personal development goals!

There may not be a whole lot you can do about things like a global pandemic and murder hornets. What you do have control over, though, is your own growth. And, really, personal development goals are always a good thing upon which to set your focus. They serve as a metric for where you are, and a catalyst for where you could go. Devoting a little time to these now can have a big impact on your career (and your life in general) down the road.

With that said, let’s go over what personal development is and how you can set goals to further it.

What is personal development?

Personal development is pretty much exactly what it sounds like! It’s the act of working to improve yourself: your skills, your attitude, your capabilities, your character. The person being developed is — you guessed it — you.

How is personal development helpful?

In order to be the most productive and successful version of yourself, you need to maximize your potential. Enter, personal development goals. These actionable steps help you set a pace of growth within your comfort zone. So, let’s say you’ve been dreaming of a promotion but fear over not being qualified for the role is holding you back. By setting personal development goals specific to that gig, you’ll be able to identify the areas you need to improve and actively work to that end.

Personal development goals have myriad other benefits, too. They help hone your focus and give you a clear sense of purpose. You’ll naturally boost your productivity level since you’ll be working to meet constantly evolving benchmarks. And it may even make your relationships in and outside of the office better — working on yourself has a way of making you recognize your misgivings and self-correct.

How do you set personal development goals?

Establish your vision: Even just saying out loud what you want to improve can lead to manifestations of change. But in order to really nail your personal development goals, you need to create an action-based plan of attack. This starts with establishing a vision for your career. Where do you ultimately want to end up? If your goals feel too overwhelming (i.e. your ultimate goal is to become a billionaire, in which case same), break them down into more palatable chunks. The more realistic and time-oriented your goals are, the more likely you are to work towards them.

Go through your vision: Before you can set goals for your future, it’s important to realistically visualize and imagine what you have the capacity for and what your day to day looks like. This is called clearing out your vision. This is the time you take to think about what is realistic and what works with who you are and what you want. Ask yourself, What does my workload look like, and what relationship will interfere with certain goals? What makes you feel good about yourself and where you are in life? What gives you the opposite feeling? Focus on what gives you energy and fills your day with positivity. After you comb through the obstacles and opportunities in your life, you can create a solid plan for yourself.

Develop a strategy: Once you have an idea of your vision, you can develop a strategy. From here, you can break those larger chunks down even further. Checking off an accomplishment offers a serious motivation boost, so you want to give yourself the chance to do that as frequently as possible.

Track, track, track: If you’re a human who loves lists, you’re going to enjoy personal development goal-tracking! You’ll be recording your progress as you go. So, in other words, break out your Evernote app, Excel, or a good ol’ fashioned clipboard. You’re going to need it. On the plus side, this should help you meet your goals even faster.

Tweak as needed: Finally, give yourself some grace. Life happens (hello, 2020!). Review your personal development goals periodically. If you need to adjust them accordingly, don’t beat yourself up. The important thing is that you maintain some sort of forward momentum, no matter how small.

Set a (sensible) timeline: This goes back to giving yourself a little grace as necessary. If you set out to find a new job in six months, have been working towards that goal, interviewing, sending out your resume, and networking but are nearing your deadline with no leads, that’s alright. Move the goalpost a little bit. That said, if you haven’t made any moves at all it might be time to ask what you can do to motivate yourself, what steps you can take to get the ball rolling, even a little bit, in the right direction.

What are some examples of personal development goals?

Need a few ideas to get you started down your own path of personal development? No sweat. Here are a few examples you can borrow:

  • Adopting better time management
  • Enhancing your emotional intelligence
  • Becoming more resilient
  • Listening actively and responding with empathy
  • Developing a growth mindset
  • Boosting your self-confidence
  • Eating the frog
  • Improving your body language/non-verbal communication
  • Minimizing procrastination
  • Asking for more responsibility
  • Networking authentically
  • Taking your public speaking to the next level
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Practicing conflict resolution
  • Embracing mindfulness
  • Prioritizing and delegating
  • Mastering stress response
  • Become more empathetic
  • Be more confident
  • Accept my fears without letting them define my actions
  • Work better with others
  • Practice loving myself more
  • Wake up earlier
  • Let go of the past
  • Read more
  • Speak up more
  • Practice saying no
  • Break past my limitations
  • Be more vulnerable
  • Make better decisions