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Set Professional Development Goals
August 18, 2021 at 9:16 PM
by Greenevine
Businessman aspiring to goals

“What is the recipe for successful achievement? To my mind there are just four essential ingredients: Choose a career you love, give it the best there is in you, seize your opportunities, and be a member of the team.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist and poet

Professional development is essential for career success, growth within your organization, and advancement within your field. Enhancing your professional development prepares you to take advantage of new, greater responsibilities.

Most organizations have what are called “core competencies.” These are skillsets that are highly valued and sought-after by companies. Some examples include written and oral communication, time management and organization, negotiation and conflict resolution, leadership, decision making, creativity and problem solving, and emotional intelligence among others


Start your professional development plan by identifying the tasks you are currently responsible for, the areas you must be knowledgeable about, your current skills, and any skills you need to strengthen or develop. Don’t limit yourself to your current professional responsibilities. Consider your career and advancement in the long term. Start by taking an assessment of your skills today.

Where are you strong?

Even if you are considered an expert in one or more core competencies, you must stay current with leading-edge research, techniques, and best practices. Expertise requires regular enhancement to maintain that expert status.

Where do you need improvement?

The more well-rounded your skills, the more value you bring to an organization, and the more opportunities you have for career advancement. Identify the skills you need to strengthen or develop.

After this assessment, set goals for the year to strengthen your existing skills, gain new ones, and showcase your abilities on the job.

Often there is a tendency to jump into professional development by focusing on several competencies at once. Instead, choose to focus on only two areas: strengthen one skill you already have and develop one skill you need. Set a short-term and long-term SMART goal for each and list the steps you need to take to reach those goals. See our Coaching Resources for SMART Achievement and Behavioral Goals.

Some Action Tips:

  • Each month, read or listen to one new book that enhances a skill you already have or strengthens a skill you want to develop.
  • Each quarter, take a workshop either virtually or in-person depending on your company’s policy, or take advantage of training your company already offers.
  • Find and work with a mentor who can help you take your skills to the next level. (See my blog post New Year, New Professional Opportunities.)
  • Attend virtual or in-person networking events (be mindful of social distancing) where you can meet people who are experts in your field and who can help you gain new skills and enhance existing ones.
  • Research, identify, and begin working on any professional certifications you need to obtain.

Showcase Your Abilities on the Job

Even if you have the highest levels of core competency skills, they cannot serve you unless people know you have them! Here are some ways you can showcase your skills in your current job:

  • Volunteer to serve on or lead teams to showcase your leadership, problem-solving, and people skills.
  • Find and implement ways you can improve your productivity and the productivity of the team. This shows initiative, creativity, and positive productivity.
  • Make recommendations that streamline processes or reduce/eliminate obstacles to getting things done and demonstrate your time management and organization skills.
  • Speak on topics and participate in panels related to your field, and write articles for professional magazines and journals. This lets people know that you have strong communication skills and technical expertise.

Remember, you own your career. The more you work at your professional growth, the more valuable you become as an employee, and the more success you can achieve in your career.

“You don't have to change that much for it to make a great deal of difference. A few simple disciplines can have a major impact on how your life works out in the next 90 days, let alone in the next 12 months or the next 3 years.”

Robert Frost, American poet