The new year is here! It’s time to set some personal development goals and change things for the better! Unfortunately, our enthusiasm for setting goals and fulfilling them throughout the year declines with every passing day. Too often, our professional goals for the new year remain only on paper. And just like that, the end of the quarter ends and you realize that you haven’t even started working on achieving at least one of your professional goals for the year. You blinked twice and it’s already October and your 2021 plans become 2022 plans and we all know this can go on and on.
With everything that’s going on in the world right now and working from home becoming the new norm, learning something new or meeting a mentor who will help you with achieving your goals in-person has become quite difficult. Remote team management does have its perks, however when it comes to improving professional skills and developing new ones, you on your own.
Don’t worry, though! We are here to help you by telling you all about professional goals and why you shout set them. Moreover, we will take a look at 5 examples of professional goals that will certainly help you move forward in your career this year. Stay with us till the end!
What are Professional Development goals?
Let’s start by defining what professional development goals really are. Professional goals are specific actionable steps you have to take if you want to progress in your chosen career. Basically, it’s your answer to the question “where do you see yourself and your career in the next five years?” We hope that by the end of this article, you will be able to freely answer that daunting interview question.
Before defining your goals and formulating an action plan, you have to go through a decision-making process to help you figure out where exactly you want to be a year from now.
You want to become a team leader? You want to apply for a head of marketing position? What short-term and long-term goals you have to achieve that will help you get there?
A short-term goal is an objective you want to achieve in the foreseeable future. This usually means within the next few weeks or in a month’s time. As long as it’s under a year, you can classify it as a short-term goal. A long-term goal, on the other hand, is a goal that requires more time, planning and effort. Your long-term goal is not something you can squeeze in this week or this month. It’s a goal you plan to achieve in the next few years’ time.
Note: What are SMART goals? How can SMART goals help you achieve your goals and lead you to success? Find out here.
Why Set Professional Goals?
Before providing some examples of professional goals, we have to make it clear why you should have them in the first place. Think about it for a second. Why are professional work goals, or life goals in general, so important? How can those goals help contribute to career success?
It all starts with motivation! Professional development objectives keep your head in the game and make you get up in the morning, ready to take over the world! Not just that but:
- Goals give you vision
Ambiguous goals won’t help you succeed in your career. You might have a sense of where you want to be professionally a year from now, however, a mere feeling is not enough. What do you hope to learn? What are you eager to achieve? How do you see yourself a year from now?
Goals help you visualize things. Through them you see and understand what you have to do to get to your final destination. Goals give you direction. When you visualize yourself leading a team, becoming a senior developer or getting that internship (or whatever your professional goal is), you start building your skills and capabilities with that vision in mind.
- Goals give you structure
Work-life balance is difficult to achieve. We have tons of responsibilities at work, have no time for ourselves and somehow there’s never enough time to pay attention to our hobbies, families and mental health. When you have goals, however, your daily responsibilities get structured, your time-management techniques get improved, your productivity levels get high and you never lose sight of the big picture you are working towards.
Your short-term goals are probably listed on your project management tool or on a note-taking app you’re using. Or, maybe it’s all listed out for you on a Scrum board. Whatever the case is, your big goal is broken down into smaller goals which you work towards every day. Having structured goals can also help you realize which areas of your professional life need improvement.
- Goals can be measured
If your goal is within reason (meaning your objective in life is not becoming a leader of an alien race), you can measure how effective your efforts are towards achieving it. If there’s no way to quantify your goals, they are not really goals. Go for SMART goals or set some KPIs. The important thing is to have an actual proof that you’re moving forward with your goals and that they are in fact, achievable. If your goal is too ambitious, go back to your KPIs and see how you can make it more realistic.
- Goals are what set you apart from everyone else
Successful people understand the importance of the goal-setting process and achieve their dreams because they set goals and follow them. Being serious about your future success and setting realistic short-term and long-term goals will set you apart from everyone else. Your determination and ability to stick to your goals will give you an opportunity to stand out from your coworkers and improve your work performance as well. Why? Because every little victory that gets you closer to your goal gives you confidence and makes you feel more accomplished and successful.
What are Some Examples of Professional Goals for 2021?
- Learn a New Tool (or 10)
One of the best examples of professional goals for the new year we can give you is to learn a new tool. But hey, don’t limit yourself to just one. Learn ten, if possible. It all matters!
With technology becoming the most essential component of our daily professional lives, learning a new tool that will boost not just your productivity but your resume as well. Try a new project organizing tool, a new dev environment or a software for making videos. Experiment and see what works best for you. You may already know how to use several tools, important to your job position, but it’s always important to see what else is out there. Be an early adopter. Introduce a great new tool to your team. Who knows, you might impress your manager.
Adding knowledge of different kinds of project management software, social media management platforms or meeting management tools to your skills will help you further along in your career.
- Improve Teamwork and Collaboration
This is a good example of a professional goal as team collaboration is absolutely mandatory if you want to succeed at your job. No manager will be impressed with you or promote you to your dream position if you don’t know how to be a team player.
You don’t just have to be a team player. You have to also be a master communicator with leadership skills that shine during every team meeting. Improving team collaboration and communication could easily be one of your professional development goals. Going back to our number one example of professional goals for 2021, you can even learn a new communication tool, introduce it to the team and see how it can improve your teamwork.
- Take an Online Course
Most of us don’t have time to attend a course after work. Adding the quarantine situation to the picture means that the only way you can sharpen your skills or learn a new one is by taking an online course. Fortunately, there are plenty of online courses available for you. For instance, you can check Udemy for inspiration and new ideas.
One quick note, though – don’t buy several courses and forget about them. Follow through and complete the material. If your professional goal is to become an expert in SEO, buy courses for beginners and dedicate at least one hour per day to the course. Take control of your knowledge and boost your personal and professional development. A lot of industry leaders are offering courses online that will help you improve. Before enrolling or investing in a deal, investigate and see whether this course will really help you achieve your professional goals. If you’re even more ambitious, you can get another degree. These are all good, measurable goals. Attending class, passing exams, completing a course, obtaining a certification – these are all solid ways to measure goal progress. Also, more things to add to your resume!
- Build a Solid Professional Network
This is one of the most failed examples of professional goals. It’s on everyone’s list every year but somehow we rarely succeed in intentionally growing our professional network. Not just that but this is a goal that’s relatively difficult to measure.
Still, if you want to meet new professionals in your industry and expand your network, consider attending a conference, a local meetup or schedule a call with someone you want to get as your mentor. Nowadays, we all work from home and the chances of expanding your network are slimmer than ever. Fortunately, some events have moved into an online setting, allowing you to still attend and meet new people.
- Open a Business
Becoming a business owner is a huge professional challenge. If done right, though, it can be a life-changing experience for you. Getting promoted or taking on a new job is different than starting a small business. Building your own brand is a long-term goal and a huge commitment. If you’ve decided to go on that journey, though, get ready to work hard and be an exceptional leader.
The Internet is offering great opportunities for start-ups, though. You can learn how to write a business plan, launch a website, market it on social media, attract investors, etc. The information is there. All you have to do is designate time to accumulate it.
Do you know that COVID-19 has led to a huge increase in online retail stores and those businesses are booming right now? Maybe now is the right time to launch that website you’ve been dreaming about for years.
There are plenty more examples of professional goals you can set for yourself. Our list is just a tiny stepping stone for you. The sky’s the limit, after all.
This is your life and your career and without goals, you won’t succeed. It’s that simple. Of course, your professional development goals and goal-setting will be tied to your specific situation and the state of your company or organization. Hopefully, the above-mentioned examples will give you ideas for new areas to explore.