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How to Set Professional Development Goals That Affect Today & Tomorrow


When it comes to goal setting, there are countless tips, best practices, and strategies that are designed to propel people toward reaching their goals. If you’re looking to learn how to set professional development goals, you may need to rethink what you think you know about goal-setting itself.

How to Set S.M.A.R.T. Professional Development Goals

One of the most popular goal-setting strategies that all of the articles and blog posts recommend is to set S.M.A.R.T. goals. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. This means that the goals you set should be particular and measurable and something that you can realistically achieve. Additional, S.M.A.R.T. goals are relevant to your area of expertise or direction and timely; meaning you’ll be able to accomplish them in the near future rather than hoping to attain a distant far-off goal. This particular goal-setting strategy can work for health-related goals. It sometimes works for professional development goals. There’s actually a better way of going about setting meaningful goals for yourself.

Working Toward Goals Without a Commitment

Eckhart Tolle in his groundbreaking self-help book, The Power of Now, talked about living in the moment rather than worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. “The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is,” he writes.

One would argue that working toward goals with a future date in mind, is pointless. If what you’re doing now as a catalyst to your goals is not enjoyable, productive, and doesn’t give you a sense of purpose right now, is the goal really all that meaningful to you?

Your current work should be a direct reflection of your inner and true self. If you’re not satisfied with the ‘working toward,’ you’ll never enjoy the ‘having’ of the thing you’ve set your sights on. Your personal development goals should meet your own individual needs, both personally, emotionally, and professionally. An arbitrary goal that doesn’t align with your inner self just isn’t worth the work. So as you set professional development goals, it helps to identify what it is that brings you joy right now. Determine your passions and the things that light you up now and align your goals to that.

The path to true success is authenticity. |If you’re not being your authentic true self as you work toward your goals, the final ‘self’ you wish to become, truly isn’t your authentic ‘you.’

How to Set Professional Development Goals That Affect Today & Tomorrow-Tiffany D. Brown

Should You Move in Silence Toward Your Professional Development Goals?

In an inspiring TED Talk, Derek Sivers tells the audience that they should move in silence toward their goals. This advice goes against any professional development goal-setting strategy most of us have ever encountered. The general consensus is that we should need an accountability partner. We’re advised to work toward our goals publicly so we’re motivated to achieve them.

Sivers disagrees with this plan of action. In his popular TED Talk, he explains to the audience that the best way to accomplish a goal is to keep it to yourself. Saying the goal out loud and telling people of your future plans, gives your ego a boost. This makes you feel as though you’ve already accomplished the goal. The congratulations and accolades you receive from well-meaning friends and family, around your commitment to setting a future goal, offers a sense of pride.

It is this sense of pride around talking about achieving a goal, that sets you up for failure. You’ve already received that hit of dopamine and feel good about yourself. You’re now less likely to follow through and work hard toward the goal. Sivers suggests keeping your goals to yourself. He encourages working hard behind the scenes so that you can focus on goals without accolades. This makes you more apt to obtain and exceed the professional development goals you’ve set for yourself.

Set Professional Development Goals That Motivate You Today

What it comes down to is setting professional development goals that will inspire and motivate you, today, right where you are. You can do this by getting crystal clear about what it is in life that brings you joy. Discover where your passions lie. Investigate where you spend the majority of your free time. Start with these three factors to determine your professional development path.

What are Your Professional Development Goals?

Getting crystal clear on what professional development goals you want to work on is the first step. Whether you choose to further your education, grow your network, help others get ahead, improve in areas you’re lacking or face your fears and learn new skills, ensure that the goals you’re looking to reach in your professional life are coming from a place of authenticity in you.

Ultimately, pursuing goals around professional development will directly affect your future. If the goals you’re working toward aren’t changing and affecting your present, however, they won’t feel as good once you achieve them.

Be Open to Change Course 

Often times in the pursuit of one particular goal we think we want to achieve, we find ourselves on another path entirely. This is the magic sweet-spot where you discover your authentic purpose. What we think we want to achieve can change in an instant if we’re living in the moment and enjoying the work we’re doing now. Having an open mind about what we wish to achieve is always advised. With a growth mindset, you’ll be working toward professional development goals while open to other opportunities that you may not have thought of before. 

Other Related Articles:

7 Tips You Need To Know When Conducting Virtual Meetings

Investing In Yourself Is The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Business

10 Professional Development Books You Need to Read for a Fulfilled Life

How to Set Professional Development Goals-Tiffany D. Brown 


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