36 Examples of Personal Development Goals for Your Career & Life

36 Examples of Personal Development Goals for Your Career & Life

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If you’re like many other people, you probably make a resolution or two at the beginning of each year to try to improve yourself in some way–get a promotion, start a family, get in shape–things of that nature. And if you’re like many other people, that resolution probably becomes history by January 15th.

However, this common focus on self-improvement derives from our desire to be in the driver’s seat of our own lives and be successful in all of our endeavors. And it’s true that focusing on continuous personal development will greatly improve your chances of being successful in every area of your life, however, simply having any type of goal will not do you any favors unless you follow through by acting on it.

Having clearly defined personal development goals is a great way to start improving your performance in any area of your life, yet the benefit that you derive from it depends on the effort you put forth in achieving it.

I know that once I stopped making vague intentions (lose weight, save money, spend more time with the family), and started to make specific and actionable personal goals, not only did I start achieving my goals and noticing improvements in my life, I also realized the importance of tracking my progress and measuring my success to keep myself motivated to consistently better my life.

In this post, I am going to give you 36 examples of personal development goals both for your career and personal life that will help you cultivate widespread success.

Side note: If you'd like a few resources that can teach you all the skills on this page, then I recommend checking out these platforms to learn any skill.

Let’s get started.

What are Personal Development Goals?

Personal development goals are those that are made in an effort to improve your outcomes and overall experience in life.  A personal goal can be any milestone related to improving yourself through skill acquisition, character building experiences, interacting with other people, improving your perception of yourself and your abilities, or how you envision the possibilities for your future. The purpose of having personal development goals is to continuously create a better life for yourself.

These goals impact you in both tangible and intangible ways. While some personal development goals may relate to improving your ability to be patient with other people, others may have to do with advancing your education in some way.

Some of your personal development goals may clearly fall into a “personal” or “professional” category, however, many can easily overlap into both categories because ultimately, who you innately are as a person remains the same whether you’re at work or at home. Your “soft” skills–such as your ability to motivate yourself and your capacity to feel empathy toward others–will help improve all areas of your life.

RELATED: 21 Examples of SMART Goals

Want to set goals you can actually achieve? Then watch this video that provides a quick overview of SMART goals with 21 examples.

Now that we've defined personal goals, let's talk about the specific ones you can work on developing to improve your life.

1. Build and Improve Professional Relationships

You spend a lot of time with your colleagues, so it is important to build good relationships with them. After all, team cohesion relies on mature working relationships, as people typically work better together if there’s a personal element to their relationship.

Having positive professional relationships can lay the foundation for your ultimate success. Because each person’s role in your organization either directly or indirectly affects your performance, it’s important for you to nourish these working relationships so you can work in harmony with others.

To improve your professional relationships, help other members of the team whenever you can, and engage in open and honest communication with your colleagues. (And if you're not an effective communicator, these 11 strategies can help improve your communication skills.)

Doing so will help you build trust and strengthen your relationship with the people at work, which will make your professional life much more enjoyable. While it is also important to develop positive relationships with people in your field who work with different organizations (which we will address later), don’t neglect those who are on your own turf.

How to Achieve This Goal

To build and improve your professional relationships, you will need to practice good workplace habits. Not only will this help you develop better relationships with your colleagues, it will also help increase your level of work satisfaction. Be sure to welcome diversity, both in cultures and ideas, by listening to what others have to say in your workplace.

Factor various insights into your decision-making processes and recognize that you can learn something from everyone. If the people you work with can see that you value them and what they bring to the table, you will be more likely to have a good relationship with them.

2. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Throughout your professional career, you’ll face deadlines and competing tasks that fight for your attention every day. As your workload increases, it may seem impossible to be able to get everything accomplished.

In these instances, your ability to manage your time will be tested. Having effective time management skills will help increase your productivity and efficiency, decrease your stress, and  allow you to have more time to dedicate to other endeavors.

Make sure that you’re keeping track of how you spend your time if you feel like time management is an issue for you (this app can help you do this). Schedule a specific amount of time for every item on your to-do list and don’t allow interruptions during these times. This will help you be more efficient, and once you get the hang of working this way, it will become second nature.

Now, if you'd like to discover additional resources related to time management and productivity, then I recommend checking out the other articles we've published on this site:

How to Achieve This Goal

We’ve provided you with the tools you need to improve your time management, but having these tools without having the skills to properly use them doesn’t quite cut it. Think of it like this: you could have the highest quality set of knives and most innovative oven on the market, but if you don’t know how to cook, those tools won’t automatically make you a master chef.

So what underlying skills do you need in order to effectively manage your time? Research shows that there are three skills in particular that will make your time management efforts successful, including:

  • Being aware that time is a limited resource and being realistic with how long it takes to accomplish a task
  • Having the ability to organize your daily tasks, schedule, and goals in a sensical way
  • Being able to monitor the use of your time on an ongoing basis and adapt to changing priorities as needed

With this in mind, take these steps to improve upon these three skills:

  • Time yourself at work for every task you do for about a week. Keeping track of how you spend your time can be a huge eye-opener.
  • Put your most important tasks at the beginning of your daily schedule and fill in the rest like Tetris. If you have a really short break somewhere, throw that 5 minute task right there into your schedule.
  • Have a backup plan in case your day gets a little jumbled… which it often will.

3. Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

When emotional intelligence (EQ) first hit people’s radars, it was the answer to a puzzling question: How do people with mid-range IQs outperform those with the highest IQs almost three-quarters of the time?

People originally thought that one’s IQ was a direct indicator of their success. However, decades of research uncovered that a high EQ is an element that brings star performers to the top.

This means that your EQ has a huge impact on your professional success. When you have a high EQ, you are better equipped to understand your own feelings and the feelings of others, which helps you relate to people. Not only does this improve your communication skills, but it also gives you the social competence that’s needed to understand other people’s emotions, behaviors, and motives so you can respond appropriately and successfully manage your personal interactions.

One interesting thing about people with a high EQ is that they have a large emotional vocabulary. While everyone experiences emotions, very few can accurately identify them as they happen, which becomes a problem because unidentified emotions are easily misinterpreted, leading to irrational decisions and ineffective actions.

However, those who have high EQs can understand their emotions, and they have a large vocabulary of “feeling words” to do this. So, while others may say they feel bad, a person with a high EQ would be able to identify if they’re frustrated, hurt, overwhelmed, etc. The more clearly you can define your emotion, the more insight you have into what caused your feelings and how you can address them.

How to Achieve This Goal

To learn more about this topic, here is a seven-step process on how to improve your emotional intelligence.

Additionally, having a good sense of self-awareness is the most important component to being able to develop a high EQ. With a high level of self-awareness, it will be easier for you to recognize how other people perceive you and adapt to social situations as needed. One effective way to increase your self-awareness is to keep a mindfulness journal, which will help get you in the habit of living in the moment and being aware of yourself and your surroundings.

4. Define Your Own Success

You don’t have to abide by everyone else’s definition of success. You can define what being successful and happy mean to you, which will help you clarify what you need to do to achieve it.

Once you dig deep to uncover your values and purpose, you will recognize that if you try to chase everyone else's idea of what success is, you won’t achieve it. (Discover your core values with the help of these core value quizzes.) In doing this, you have to make it a point to not compare yourself to other people. The things that you see other people have don’t define or impact your success. You’re the only one who can decide if you have achieved your goals thus far.

And if you want to be more successful, here are 12 rules to live by.

How to Achieve This Goal

There isn’t one universal definition of being successful. To define your own success, you need to observe and recognize the characteristics that make you unique from everyone else in the world and celebrate them. The Huffington Post offers three steps to defining your success:

  1. Figure out what makes you, YOU. What makes you unique? One way to reflect on this is to write your personal mission statement.
  2. Remove your limiting beliefs and open yourself up to taking risks and reaping the rewards.
  3. Keep doing whatever you have to do to help you be your best self. This involves practicing self-care, increasing your love for yourself (and here are some more tips for loving yourself more), and living an authentic life to your true self.

5. Find New Challenges

Finding new challenges in your current position will help keep your job interesting and fulfilling. This personal development goal shows your ambition and can be especially helpful for your organization if they’re frequently coming up with new ideas that are never acted on or no one supervises to ensure any type of follow-through.

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Finding new challenges will help keep your job interesting and fulfilling. This personal development goal shows your ambition.

Finding new challenges could be as easy as revising that employee handbook that hasn’t been touched since 2005, or as complex as proposing and creating a prototype for a new product. Finding new challenges for yourself will also help you show your leadership abilities and could lead to further progress within your organization.

If you need a jumpstart, here are 129 30-day challenges you can use to improve your personal and professional life.

How to Achieve This Goal

The first thing you need to do to find new challenges is to take the initiative to talk to your boss about your current responsibilities. Inquire about other projects you can get involved with and try to provide a fresh perspective on issues as they arise. Doing so could lead to job advancement in the future, which will certainly offer new challenges.

Secondly, find new challenges by focusing on yourself rather than constantly trying to impress your employer. If you are always in the mindset that you’re working for someone else, you may become bored and lazy with your work. Remember that your work reflects on you, not just your employer, and when you think of your work as being for yourself, you’re more likely to challenge yourself to continuously improve.

6. Don’t Be Passive

Passive behavior occurs when you put other people’s preferences or needs ahead of your own. While sometimes this is necessary to build relationships, it can become a problem if you are consistently passive in a way that allows it to become a barrier to your success.

If you like to avoid conflict, you probably tend to be passive. If you simply allow things to happen without standing up for yourself or offering a logical argument in return, others will see this and start taking advantage of your willingness to please. In doing so, you may accept an offer that would be unacceptable by other people’s standards, which could negatively impact your performance and even your organization.

While being passive in the short-term may make you feel good because you are getting other people’s approval, it is damaging in the long-run because it will require you to make larger sacrifices to maintain these relationships.

How to Achieve This Goal

If you want to take a more active approach in your career, start by writing your career goal statement. This will give you a clearer vision of the professional life you want and how to achieve it.

Also, you can avoid being passive by communicating directly with people (don’t be shy!) and being genuine when you’re talking about how you feel about things. You can certainly be assertive without being aggressive by being clear and straightforward with people.

7. Develop a Growth Mindset

People who have a growth mindset believe that they can continue to develop their talents throughout life. These people are often able to achieve more than those with a fixed mindset, who believe that they were born with their abilities already set into place and therefore don’t invest time or energy into learning new skills. People with a growth mindset are continuously aiming to better themselves, and are therefore able to break away from complacency and achieve their goals.

In a professional environment, people who have a growth mindset often share information, collaborate well with others, look for feedback, strive for innovation, and are able to admit their mistakes. On the other hand, those with a fixed mindset are less likely to take risks for fear of failure or embarrassment. They don’t look forward to the potential learning opportunities from trying new things because they think they were born with the maximum amount of talent they will ever have.

Those with a fixed mindset can develop a growth mindset by embracing imperfection and altering their viewpoint on challenges. This is advantageous in the workplace because it offers a greater opportunity to become successful.

How to Achieve This Goal

If you'd like to develop this quality, there are many resources out there that can help you. First, here are 7 exercises that can help you develop a growth mindset, and here are 27 habits you can adopt to support you on this journey as well. By cultivating self-awareness, seeking out learning opportunities and challenges, and being mindful about valuing the process of everything that you do rather than just the end result, you can stop your limiting beliefs that your talent and abilities are finite.

Additionally, here are 20 growth mindset examples that will help you fully understand the importance of having this trait, which can help motivate you to make a genuine effort toward adopting it. Finally, check out these growth and fixed mindset quotes to encourage you to continue to learn throughout your life. And–if you have children–you can get them started on the right track by teaching them how to develop a growth mindset.

8. Grow Your Network

People do business with others whom they know and trust. And the truth is, “companies” don’t make business decisions, people do. Having a strong professional network can help you advance in your career in ways that you would not be able to do alone.

Not only can networking lead to connections with people who can help you enhance your expertise and knowledge, it can also help you stay on top of potential opportunities for advancement in your career.

How to Achieve This Goal

In order to grow your network, you need to be willing to put yourself out there in new situations, which may feel uncomfortable at first. However, once you do it a few times, not only will you get used to it, but you will start running into the same people multiple times at networking events, which will help you strengthen your network as it grows. Actively look up networking events in your area and GO. Even if you have to bring a co-worker so there is someone there you know, GO.

You can also grow your network through social media, however, having that personal face-to-face time is invaluable when you’re trying to learn about someone and really attempting to make a valuable connection.

9. Tweak Your Work Life Balance

Having a healthy work-life balance is an important part of living a happy life. Not only will taking sufficient breaks from work have a positive effect on your wellbeing, but it will also influence your productivity by improving your performance while you’re working.

Create boundaries between your professional and your personal lives that are strong, yet realistic. To you, this may mean sticking to an 8-hour work-day, or it could mean leaving work at work and leaving home at home (i.e. not checking your work email while having dinner with your family). Having a healthy work-life balance will help you maintain your professional motivation and allow you to work smarter, not harder.

How to Achieve This Goal

One of the first steps to achieving this goal is to work efficiently while you’re at work so it doesn’t have to spill over into your personal life. Here are 26 smart hacks to help increase your work productivity.

It’s also smart to go into each week with a plan so you don’t end up wasting time wondering what you should do next–or feeling so overwhelmed that you just sit there and do nothing. Here are 7 steps to help you plan out your week so you can stay focused.

10. Improve Upon Your Weaknesses

Make your biggest weakness into your biggest strengths by being aware of areas in which you can improve and focusing directly on them.

Being able to recognize your weaknesses shows self-awareness and strength in your character. But what do you tell potential employers when they ask about your weaknesses? Do you tell them the solid steps you’re taking to improve upon them?

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Make your biggest weakness into your biggest strength. Being self-aware shows strength in your character.

You won’t improve without accepting that your skillset isn’t perfect and then creating a strategic plan for improvement. If you can take concrete steps to turn your weaknesses around, not only will you be a role model for other professionals, you will also be engaging in self-improvement.

This is not to say that your biggest weakness has to turn into your biggest strength, but being aware of the areas in your work where you have room for improvement and trying to bridge that gap is a constructive personal development goal.

How to Achieve This Goal

First, practice some activities in self-awareness so you can gain this important characteristic, such as:

Secondly, it is important to get guidance from someone you trust. In doing so, you may be able to learn about some weaknesses that you have but may not have noticed.

And for some things? You really just need to get good enough. It’s alright if you’re never an expert at every task involved in your company–but some tasks are important enough to gain minimal competence, just so you can understand the comprehensive work of your company.

For example, let’s say you’re an internet entrepreneur…but you have very few technology skills. You can trust your employees to take care of the technology piece, but you’ll still want to learn just enough so you can tell if they’re doing their jobs as they’re supposed to and you know if your expectations for their outcomes are realistic.

11. Pursue Ongoing Professional Development

This is another personal development goal that will keep you on top of your game at work. Employers are often reluctant to invest the money in sending their employees to seminars or conferences, but engaging in professional development will help you maintain your competence in your field and excel when faced with the competition.

This continuing professional development can take the form of listening to the best business podcasts and reading the best business books.

Ensuring that your professional skills remain up-to-date in our rapidly changing world is critical to your long-term success. Your education certainly doesn’t stop with your diploma, and staying abreast of changing trends in your industry will help you be an in-demand candidate for prospective future employers.

How to Achieve This Goal

You can engage in continuous learning on your own by seeking out opportunities for webinars and new research and things of that nature. You can also look for senior executives at your job whose job may be your goal to obtain one day and ask if you can spend some time shadowing them to learn what they do on an everyday basis.

But if you want to be able to attend and participate in more intensive trainings, you may need to learn how to ask your boss how your company can fit that into their budget. And to convince anyone of this you have to have a strong argument as to why or how your attendance at this conference will benefit the entire company and what kind of knowledge you can bring back from it. So do your research first and approach your boss with a strong argument in mind as to how spending this money will benefit the company.

12. Learn How to Motivate Others

If you want to be a leader in your industry, it is important to know how to motivate your team members. Otherwise, your organization will go through periods of struggle with productivity and overall morale.

If you aren’t in a leadership position, you can still look for opportunities to bring to your leaders’ attention that address motivation if you feel that this is an obstacle in your workplace. If you are able to enhance the motivation of your team or have a positive impact on the work ethic of the employees, you will be helping to maximize the effectiveness of your organization.

How to Achieve This Goal

Here are 9 ways you can motivate others. Part of doing this is to challenge people and be encouraging when they start to make progress. You want to set others up to be in a position where they’re ultimately motivating themselves, and sometimes this requires prompting them to do some self-reflection as to why they are doing the job that they’ve chosen and what they’re ultimately working toward.

And if they’re still not quite sure, try to get the person to create a vision for their future so they can have a more clear picture of what they want out of life. You can teach them about making vision boards to help them think about their future or add some inspiration to their current work as they make connections to where it may be taking them for the future.

Personal Development Goals for Self-Growth

13. Enjoy Life More by Taking It Less Seriously

A lot of people fail to keep the bigger picture in mind on an everyday basis. The majority of us are fortunate to have been born healthy and into families that could provide us with our basic needs. However, many still get caught up in the small things that happen and completely forget about how well-off they are.

Think about someone you know who earns a large salary, but still gets mad at small inconveniences. Taking life less seriously will help you be happier, reduce stress, and make you a more enjoyable person for other people to be around.

If you’re able to move past the small and insignificant things that happen, you will get more enjoyment out of life. Laugh at unexpected inconveniences, laugh at yourself when you make a mistake, and laugh because it will reduce the amount of stress that you’re putting on your body.

How to Achieve This Goal

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” — Elbert Hubbard

There are several things you can do to take life less seriously. Practicing gratitude is a great place to start since it will help you focus on the good things in your life. This will also help you maintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity.

Try to let go of any stress, worry, or anger so you can live in a more relaxed state of mind. Be mindful of the stress in your life and do your best to rise above it. As you know, there a lot of things in life that you have no control over. Align yourself to a brighter and lighter version of you by adding humor to your life, learning to be comfortable with feeling vulnerable, and spending more time enjoying life.

14. Engage in Self-Care

You can’t be an effective partner, mother, cousin, or friend to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first. Too often, people fail to take care of their own basic needs, either because they’re too busy or they’re not making it a primary concern.

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Engaging in self-care and making it a priority in your everyday life will greatly improve your life.

Learning how to engage in proper self-care and making it a priority in your everyday life will greatly improve your life and the lives of the people with whom you interact. You can’t take care of anything else in your life to the best of your ability until you take care of yourself.

15. Be Proactive

Things will go wrong in life–it’s inevitable. These negative situations can either have a large impact on your life, or they could be a bit inconvenient. This all depends on whether you’re proactive or reactive. If you always wait to react to problems until after they have already presented themselves, it expands the associated challenges and adds additional stress to your life.

On the other hand, if you’re proactive, it will minimize the issue and give you more stability because you will be facing a challenge that you were prepared for. It’s easier to remain relatively undisturbed if you’re proactive because you’ll always feel like you’re in control of your circumstances.

How to Achieve This Goal

Being proactive is about being a good problem solver and being solution-focused. It’s about not wasting time and getting things done ahead of time by anticipating issues that may arise or being ahead of the game when it comes to an emerging trend in your industry.

Surround yourself with other people who are driven to increase your probability for success.  You cannot have people around you who drag you down and expect to keep the motivation to be proactive, rather you need to associate with like-minded people who also want to stay ahead. Doing so will also keep you abreast of new research or best practices in your field because you will be able to learn from the people you’re around, and they will be able to learn from you.

16. Practice Patience

It can be tough to be patient, especially if you tend to be short-tempered. However, this is something that can be managed with practice. It’s beneficial to maintain your patience during times of despair because it will help you keep a calm state of mind, which will allow you to effectively problem-solve without being impacted by frustration.

Also, having continuous patience will help you make decisions that will be beneficial for you in the long term because you won’t rush yourself into making decisions that will suit your needs for instant gratification. One way to ensure that you are practicing patience is to stop to think critically before making any decisions. Taking the time to do this will help you avoid having to re-do work, make corrections, or do something that you later regret.

How to Achieve This Goal

Here are some concrete steps you can take to become more patient. A big part of practicing how to be patient is exactly that–practicing.

I know this may sound like a unique thing to work on because it’s not really tangible–you’re not practicing how to play the piano or practicing perfecting a perfect recipe of some sort. However, practicing patience is not as passive as it sounds. You can practice by focusing on your breathing, finding the silver lining in the extra time that you’ve been given while you’re waiting for something, and learning to battle feelings of anger and frustration that really are the negative aspect of being impatient.

Looking for some inspiration? Here's a collection of our favorites quotes about patience.

17. Say “Goodbye” to Toxic People

Do you have negative people in your life who drain you of your energy and confidence? Or, can you think of some people who are constantly complaining or judging others in some way? These people are known as being “toxic” and you should avoid having them in your life as much as you can.

(If you're not sure if someone is a toxic person, here are 15 warning signs.)

Toxic people will hold you back from achieving your goals. Because putting an end to any relationship is difficult, and you may not want to completely cut ties with a friend from childhood (for example), you can make a concerted effort to spend a minimal amount of time with them rather than completely cutting them off if you feel that would be more appropriate.

Instead, surround yourself with uplifting people who will inspire you and support you in being the best version of yourself. Spending your time with like-minded people will make it easier for you to achieve your ultimate goals in life.

How to Achieve This Goal

Don’t sit around waiting for toxic people in your life to change. Rather, establish boundaries and maintain them by being comfortable with saying “no” to them. Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into someone else’s crisis just because they’ve been in your life for a long time.

Sometimes it’s ok (and necessary) to let go of the past and old relationships and move on with your life rather than holding onto them because the person has been a friend since childhood. People grow in different directions and while you may be able to have a mutually beneficial relationship with someone at one point in your life, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship should last forever.

Keep in mind that toxic people have a tendency to keep coming back into your life if you let them, so once you decide a relationship of any kind is over, make sure to be firm with that decision.    

18. Accept Your Reality

You may feel like you know yourself, but have you accepted yourself and your life? Have you settled for “less than” what you hoped? Failing to connect with reality may keep you stuck in jobs, relationships, or even living situations that are just not right for you.

You will always be a work in progress and it is perfectly acceptable for you to make mistakes, but in order to make some sort of progression in your life, it is important to accept your reality if you're not living your dream.

Accepting your reality is one of the best things you can do for your future. Even if your current situation is awful, the first step to making positive changes is acknowledging and accepting it in its current state and then identifying the specific things you can do to improve it. Otherwise, you will remain unhappily complacent.

How to Achieve This Goal

Dealing with the bad stuff takes a lot of practice, but you have to do it in order to make it to the good things. To accept your reality, you have to own responsibility for your mistakes and acknowledge any role you played in getting to where you are today, whether it’s good or bad. What have you done in the past to foster success? What about failure?

You don’t have to beat yourself up about your past mistakes, just look for lessons in them. And make sure to give yourself credit wherever it’s due. Accepting your reality means accepting all of it–starting with your competencies. Focus on your positive characteristics because even if you aren’t where you want to be right now, you’re sure to have done some good things that have put you ahead of where you could be.

19. Don’t Let Your Past Define Your Future

A lot of us have a terrible past, and you may believe that your goals are out of reach due to your undesirable history. Perhaps you’re discouraged, you feel unworthy, or you may even be embarrassed by your past.

But it doesn’t take too much research to find success story after success story of people who were able to overcome their past struggles and become very triumphant. Don’t let your past be an obstacle to achieving the future that you dream of. Rather, commit to your goals and realize that change can occur at any point, and you have endless opportunities for transformation.

How to Achieve This Goal

Sure, it can be hard to let go of the past, especially if you believe it makes up such a large part of your identity. However, it can be done.

If you’re trying to deal with negative emotions from a past trauma and you want to be heard or understood, you can talk about your experiences with people, but you also have to identify how those experiences are now causing emotions that are holding you back.

Once you identify your limiting emotions, you can think about what positive motivating factors you may have to help you move past those feelings. Then, create new, positive experiences to replace the negative things that have happened in the past so you can reinvent yourself and live a happy and fulfilling life.

20. Let Go of Your Limiting Beliefs

Holding onto limiting beliefs will delay your progression because you will be stuck inside of your comfort zone, unwilling to try new things or take any risks. While you may have a fear of failure or you are scared you’re going to get hurt in the process of working toward your goals, these thoughts cannot mark the end of the road to your success.

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Letting go of your limiting belief will help you avoid delaying your progression.

You could have limiting beliefs about a variety of things, ranging from finances to relationships to your own abilities. The key is to identify the beliefs that are holding you back, overcome them, and replace them with positive thoughts that support your path to success.

How to Achieve This Goal

To learn more, here is a step-by-step guide on how to identify and overcome your limiting beliefs. You will first need to overpower your limiting beliefs with empowering thoughts that can help you move past these roadblocks.

Do this by questioning your beliefs. Are you sure they’re true? Do you have any evidence or are you making an assumption? Are you thinking in “all or nothing” terms? Being honest with yourself about your beliefs and thinking outside the box to find potential new solutions can help you realize that your beliefs probably started out as being ideas, then turned to opinions, then cemented themselves in your belief system.

It takes a lot of self-reflection and challenging your own thoughts to move past your limiting beliefs, but doing the work is worth the reward because whatever is holding you back has tangible consequences, whether it’s preventing you from pursuing the job of your dreams, keeping you in an abusive relationship, or anything in between.

21. Set Personal Boundaries

If you’re like me, you have a hard time saying no to people. You want to please those who come to you for help or who need you to do them a favor. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not an endless resource to be used by other people.

You have to know your limits so you have enough time and energy for the things that you need to accomplish. Once you know where your limits stand, set strict boundaries for others and stick to your guns.

This could mean boundaries in romantic relationships, with your family members, friends, or even in the workplace. Setting clear personal boundaries is an important part of ensuring that your relationships are mutually supportive and respectful.

If you have weak or undefined boundaries, you will be left vulnerable and others may take you for granted. However, with strong boundaries, you’re setting the limits for what’s acceptable behavior from the people with whom you associate.

How to Achieve This Goal

Learn to recognize when the boundaries that you have set are being pushed and be direct about that. With a strong sense of self-awareness, you will notice when your boundaries are being pushed because you will feel yourself becoming resentful toward the other person. When this happens, if you have a proper sense of self-respect, you will not feel guilty about sticking to your boundaries.

If you want to learn how to set boundaries, you can start small. For example, let your friends and extended family know that you’re turning your phone on silent every night at 8pm and won’t look at it again until 6:30 the next morning–at the earliest. This is a good first step to learning how to set boundaries with your time. A next step to consider may be to stop checking work emails when you’re at home. Work at whatever pace of progress feels right to you.

For more on this, here is a 7-step process for saying “no” to people and the requests for your time.

22. Become an Active Listener

We listen to people talk every day, so you would probably think that everyone is pretty good at it. However, this is not the case–in fact, research shows that we only remember about 25% of what we hear.

So when you’re talking to your boss, coworkers, family, and friends for, say, 20 minutes—and you’re speaking for 10 of those minutes–they will only remember 2.5 minutes of what you said. This also means that when someone is telling you something that’s important, you’re most likely going to miss parts of it.

Learning how to actively listen is a skill that pretty much everyone could benefit from. When you improve your listening skills, you can improve your productivity, your influence on others, and your negotiation and persuasion skills.

Also, part of being a great communicator is being a great listener. You give off a good impression to others when you lend them a listening ear, which helps you earn trust. When you are actively listening, not only are you showing the speaker that you want to understand what they’re saying, you’re also offering empathy and support, which builds stronger relationships.

How to Achieve This Goal

To improve your active listening skills, mimic the speaker’s body language and ask questions to make sure you’re understanding what they’re saying. You don’t want to interrupt the person who is speaking, but nodding along in agreement and repeating back to them what you heard are effective ways to show the speaker that you are engaged in the conversation.

Also, maintain eye contact and ask clarifying or follow-up questions so they know that you’ve been paying attention to what they’ve been talking about. Try to have some empathy while you’re listening so you can feel what the speaker is trying to relay.

23. Learn to Let Go

Holding on to the past will prevent you from becoming the person that you want to be. But, letting go of things that have happened is much easier said than done. In fact, I think we have all heard someone say at some point in our lives, “let it go” and, if you’re like me, it makes you even madder than you were before.

While it seems counterintuitive, Psychology Today reports that painful feelings can ultimately be comforting, especially if most of your past is painful, because these unpleasant emotions become part of your identity, making them nearly impossible to let go.

However, if you carry the negative things from your past around with you for the rest of your life, it will only act as a burden and ultimately hold you back from living a fulfilling life. Remember the lessons that you take away from your hardships, but let go of the emotional weight that you’re holding on to.

How to Achieve This Goal

A large part of letting go involves learning how to forgive. This doesn’t mean that you have to forget what someone else has done to hurt you, it simply means that you will not allow their actions to have a negative impact on your future.  Offering forgiveness is therapeutic when you’re trying to move past something, and if you share this forgiveness with the offender, it may motivate that person to seek moral growth, and improve themselves as a result of your forgiveness.

Aside from learning how to forgive, it’s important to always remember that the only thing you can control are your own actions and feelings. Don’t waste your energy trying to dictate the paths of other people, and don’t worry about what other people’s opinions are of you. Just focus on being your best self and living the life that you want to live from start to finish.

24. Build Resilience

Even for those who are relatively self-aware, life’s challenges can come at a surprise. But learning how to move through these painful times in a healthy way can help people bounce  back more quickly–or at least start moving in a positive direction.

When you’re resilient, you are able to cope with adversity and adapt when a situation doesn’t go the way that you expected. Having resilience is the difference between feeling powerless and being able to stand up to your problems with confidence and bravery. When you can recover quickly from a problem, you will come out on the other side a stronger person.

Having resilience is what helps you cope with whatever comes your way and just focus on what you can learn from the experience.  This personal development goal can help you in any area of your life, as it will prevent you from becoming easily overwhelmed and allow you to use your strengths to recover from challenges.

How to Achieve This Goal

Many people use journaling as a way to build resilience, as this exercise helps you explore your thoughts, stop ruminating on past experiences, and it gives your thoughts structure by organizing them on paper. This can help you gain a new perspective and a sense of control over your past.

Journaling can also help you find the silver lining in things as you have the opportunity to purposefully think of positive things that may have come out of an upsetting experience. For example, if you got in a fight with your partner, it may have brought some significant issues to light, allowing you both to open up to each other’s points of  view. 

25. Wake Up 30 Minutes Earlier

Waking up early, energized, and with a purpose is a huge key to success. The most successful people are known for waking up early and getting a strong start to their day. Because of this, a great personal goal that could really enhance your life in all domains is to start waking up earlier than  you’re used to.

Set your alarm to get up early–at least 30 minutes before usual. There are many benefits to being an early riser, such as giving yourself time to eat a healthy breakfast, get some exercise, or complete some productive work before other people are awake and the chaos of your day begins. Waking up earlier than is necessary gives you quiet time to focus on anything that is important to you.

Studies have shown that people who wake up early tend to procrastinate less and get ahead of the game as opposed to their later-sleeping counterparts. So, if you want to get ahead, this is one simple change you can make that can give you a head start.

How to Achieve This Goal

The first step to being able to wake up early is to make sure you’re going to bed at a reasonable time and getting a good night’s sleep. If you try to go to bed at the same time every night, you will eventually start to wake up at the same time each morning, without needing an alarm clock.

If you need to, you can make this change gradually by starting to set your alarm 10 minutes earlier than usual, and then 20, and so on. Once your body gets into this routine, you will become a natural early bird and wonder why other people waste so much time in the morning staying in bed or hitting the snooze button.

If you're having trouble with your morning routine in general, then this step-by-step resource can help.

Personal Development Goals for a Performance Review

26. Improve Operation Processes

While operations processes can look quite different depending upon the industry in which you work, the underlying concept is the same for all organizations of any size. The operation process involves turning inputs (raw materials, information, labor, money, etc.) into outputs (products, services, customer satisfaction, etc.)

Companies that can figure out how to do this well end up with a competitive advantage. Because of this, every component of an operations process has to be closely monitored so management can determine if their team is working at an optimal level of performance.

Well-designed operations process goals can help teams stay informed of all necessary information, standard operating procedures, and training. And, ultimately, when these processes are done well, they are what make an organization successful. If you’re at the helm of this, you’re on the right path toward professional success.

How to Achieve This Goal

The best way to improve operation processes is to streamline them. Look at how your organization works and identify if there are any areas where you can improve efficiency. It’s important to not stay stuck in your old ways because that’s what has “always worked” before. Technology and businesses are constantly evolving, meaning there are new methods and tools available to streamline operations to increase workers’ productivity.

Another thing you will want to keep in mind to improve business operations is to fix small problems before they become big ones. Some seemingly insignificant glitches in your system can turn into a setback that can end up wasting a lot of time and being expensive to fix. So, make an effort to reduce any issue that you can identify within your organization. One way of doing this would be to create a new protocol guide for your team and then review its impact on a regular basis, tweaking the processes as needed.

Here are some specific examples of how a business can improve their operations processes.

27. Improve Clients’ Service Experiences

Goals related to clients’ service experiences with your organization involve greater engagement and client satisfaction. These types of goals may involve elements such as creating more self-service online features on the organization’s website, reducing phone hold times, or improving the timeliness of client follow up.

This type of goal will be highly individualized based on your industry, but whether you are dealing with retail clients in a small business setting or your clients come in the form of the kindergarten students that you teach, you can always find a way to improve others’ experience when they’re on the receiving end of your organization’s services.

How to Achieve This Goal

Here are a variety of ways to improve clients’ service experiences that can apply to a diverse group of industries. But, in addition to this, it’s important to make sure that the employees are able to show that they truly care about their work and stand behind the company especially when they’re interacting with those receiving your services or buying your products.

To do this, you need to ensure employees have a sense of intrinsic motivation to do their job. When employees are intrinsically motivated to do their job, they will:

  • Respect and enjoy the process of the work rather than simply receiving a paycheck
  • Find pleasure in their everyday tasks
  • Show a sense of enthusiasm for their work
  • Seek opportunities to learn
  • Welcome challenges
  • Live up to their potential

28. Improve Employee Morale

You don’t have to be in a leadership position to boost employee morale. When employees have a positive attitude about their environment at work and believe they can be successful in their job, employee morale naturally increases.

When working among other people, you can have an impact on the working environment and encourage a positive morale. For example, you can:

  • Praise your fellow co-workers for their hard work or success
  • Avoid using negative language or expressing complaints without offering a possible solution
  • Do something as simple as keeping your office door open or putting a bowl of candy on your desk to make fellow employees feel welcomed when approaching you

The culture of an organization cannot be changed by just one person, however, without at least one person making an effort to improve employee morale, no changes will ever occur. Do your part in creating positive general norms in your workplace.

How to Achieve This Goal

The most effective way to improve employee morale is to demonstrate it yourself. Your own positive attitude about your work will be contagious to everyone around you. Go out of your way to point positive aspects of your job out to other people– no matter how small they are. For example, if the company buys a new Keurig for the breakroom, make the effort to point that out to someone in passing. Add as much positivity to your workplace as you can to negate any negative attitudes that tend to hang around there.

This video offers some more great ideas on how to improve employee morale.

29. Offer Solutions to Problems

Pointing out problems that are occurring within your organization time and time again gets exhausting for those who have to listen to you. Instead, be proactive about coming up with solutions to challenges that arise before complaining about the problem in the first place.

For example, let’s say that you’re finding frequent mistakes in your coworkers’ reports and you’re having to spend time going back and fixing them. If your method of attempting to deal with this problem involves complaining directly to your boss about your coworkers’ mistakes, you’re just going to sound like you’re whining or speaking poorly about others with whom you work.

How to Achieve This Goal

There’s not much worse than sitting around wasting time talking about problems without planning on doing anything about them. If you notice a problem at work, have an honest conversation with the offending coworkers about these mistakes, what can be done to improve their work, and what (if anything) you can do to help. This way, when you do talk to your boss about the problem, you can report the action you’ve already taken to try to ameliorate the issue.

Don’t play the blame game, because remember, you’re a part of a team. This means that ultimately, everyone is responsible for the company’s success.

This video talks more about the importance of offering solutions rather than just problems.

30. Make Your Boss’s Job Easier

You were hired to make your boss (and their boss) successful. And the first step to making that happen is to understand exactly what is expected of you and how you should deliver on those expectations. Get to know your boss and his or her preferences so they don’t have to go back and correct your work.

In doing this, it’s important to maintain a sense of personal responsibility and stay accountable for your work. If you commit to something, make sure to follow through with it. By doing so, you’re letting your boss know that they can count on you.

How to Achieve This Goal

One way that you can make your boss’s job easier is to stay ahead of your work. When you’re given a deadline, be sure to have your work completed at least one day in advance. This will allow your boss to have some time to go over the work on their own schedule rather than waiting until the last minute when you finally turn it in.

Some other ways to make your boss’s life easier include:

  • Learn how he/she operates, what they need from you, and how they want it done. Doing so will help you meet their expectations.
  • Know your boss’s goals so you can help ensure they’re met.
  • Be resourceful and respect your boss’s time. For example, if you have a question about health insurance, ask someone in HR. Save your time with your boss to talk about work-related issues that involve collaboration between the two of you–not questions that should be directed toward someone else.
  • Stick to your promises. Better yet– under-promise and over-deliver.

Here are some more useful tips on how to make your boss’s job easier.

31. Expect Change

Being flexible and accepting of change is critical in today’s job market. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2030, the average person who is entering the workforce will have to learn entirely new job skills between eight and ten times before they retire. As jobs evolve, the uncertainty regarding what skills will be needed in the future also changes, which makes it hard to be able to predict an organization’s future needs.

Because of this, it’s critical to be flexible and prepared to change paths at any moment. It’s important to be aware of the inevitable changes that are yet to come and the fact that the responsibility of keeping up with trends and new technology has shifted to workers rather than employers.

Being a lifelong learner allows for personal employability, which is important to focus on now since it will be a principal component of employment moving forward in this age of rapid automation. Having a personal goal of continuous skill development will become increasingly important as some of the more traditional jobs become replaced by emerging technology.

How to Achieve This Goal

Being successful in the future job market will be less about current knowledge and more about your willingness and capacity to learn and evolve while your role is potentially redefined. This is where the importance of being able to easily adapt to waves of disruption is already extremely important. Furthermore, you need to stay on top of your skillset and always be on the lookout for anything new happening in your industry.

To “level up” your skills, we recommend three resources:

Finally, here are some growth strategies for being more flexible and adaptable in the workplace.

32. Be Resilient

Being resilient is important for a variety of reasons. Being able to bounce back from adversity helps you develop the tools you need to protect yourself from overwhelming situations and it helps you stay balanced when times get tough.  Resiliency can also help with the prevention of mental health issues down the line. 

Having resiliency and cognitive flexibility is also important for your short-term success at work. While some are born with a better ability to deal with unpredictable change than others, this skill can be learned. And, through your learned resilience, you will be able to develop an internal toolset to help you manage stress and find ways to use your inner strength that you may not have even known you had during the times that you need it the most.

How to Achieve This Goal

Resilience can be built up with time as you make your way through difficult experiences in life. It’s beneficial to be able to develop the ability to determine when you can draw from a difficult life event and then be able to use that experience to your advantage during future stressful times.

You can work toward the goal of becoming more resilient by increasing your self-awareness, getting exercise, and switching up your normal routines. Getting daily exercise encourages your body to release chemicals such as dopamine, opioids, serotonin, and endorphins that not only make you feel good, but also increase your ability to learn. Also, adding some variety to your routine promotes cognitive flexibility because doing new things makes your brain have to quickly adapt to and work with new stimuli.

Here is some helpful information on the importance of having resilience in the workplace.

33. Develop Transdisciplinary Skills

This term is often used in school settings, but it also applies to your career performance. Having an understanding of your entire organization from various perspectives as well as understanding the synergy and alignment between all of the departments is becoming progressively important in businesses.

There are a few ways you can improve your transdisciplinary skills at work. One would be to schedule coffee dates with people who work in other areas of the organization where you can talk about each of your responsibilities and how you contribute to the success of the business. Or, you could spend some time shadowing a coworker who has a different job title than you do.

Knowing more about how your company works as a whole can help you understand and appreciate how your efforts fit into that puzzle.

How to Achieve This Goal

One thing you will recognize while you’re working on this goal is the four stages of learning. There is probably a lot that goes on in your company that you’re unaware of, which also means you’re unaware that there is even so much to learn. But once you start talking with other people and getting to know how processes work in the business, you will likely uncover a huge gap in knowledge that you would have otherwise never realized you had.

Here are some good ways to learn about other areas of your organization, such as:

  • Volunteering for projects
  • Joining informal work clubs or groups (like a sports league)
  • Researching about the history of your company

34. Improve Your People Management Skills

An important component to generating innovation in your workplace is being able to collaborate with your team. Despite your assigned level of leadership within your organization, being proactive in leading by example in your willingness to be a team player and actuate progress in the people working with you is essential to the success of your team.

Therefore, being an influential employee who can manage people–even if it’s not done in an “official” manner–is a significant skill to have in today’s work environment. Effective people management skills are necessary for both current and future leaders who want to improve efficiency and communication at work. Building the skills that are required in order to effectively manage others can help you uncover your strengths as well as find areas in which you could improve.

How to Achieve This Goal

Here are a few examples of how you can practice your people management skills, even if you aren’t their designated manager:

  • Have empathy for your coworkers during periods of conflict by imagining yourself in their shoes in order to assess how they may feel and consider what your behavior may look like if you were in their position
  • Give your colleagues positive (and constructive negative) feedback
  • Recognize your colleagues when they do work that’s beyond what is expected of them
  • Encourage an inclusive work environment by involving everyone and allowing all team members to have the time and space to share their ideas and opinions
  • Create an environment of cultural humility (formerly known as cultural competence) to improve communication, respect, and encourage collaboration

Here is a video that explains some more ways you can improve your people management skills.

35. Stay Informed and Teach Others About Emerging Communication Channels

Having clear channels of communication and creating a culture of welcomed feedback is a critical element of having a successful organization. Innovative apps, social media avenues, and new methods of communication are steadily surfacing in today’s workplace–and many companies have started to reduce their overhead costs by having their employees work remotely if it isn’t necessary to maintain a large office space.

The increase in physical distancing among team members on an everyday basis that was trending even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the use of new modes of communication, productivity apps, and video conference calls. To stay ahead of the game, it’s essential to stay informed and literate with new communication tools and be a pioneer in educating your colleagues about which new technologies can increase (or decrease) the efficiency of your unique work. Doing this will demonstrate your commitment to excellence to your employer.

How to Achieve This Goal

Here are some actionable steps you can take to keep up with emerging channels of communication in the workplace:

  • Do some research every two to three months on new communication channels available
  • Outline the current productivity and communication tools your company uses and assess what’s working and what areas could use some improvement
  • Present new options to your team if you believe there is a tool that could increase your communication or productivity
  • Lead training sessions on any new tools that are implemented

To learn from those who are already successful in keeping up with these trends, here is how some top CIOs stay up-to-date with technology.

36. Be Confident in Your Decisions

It’s difficult to develop strong decision-making skills, but it’s essential to your performance in an organization. If you think about the thousands of decisions that you make every day, you can recognize their positive or negative consequences. Having the skills that you need to increase the positive results you achieve is a fundamental part of being productive in your job.

Developing strong decision-making skills will offer you that chance to increase positive outcomes and decrease the consequences of your mistakes. However, there is a learning curve to gaining this skill–it takes time to learn from your mistakes so you can make better decisions in the future.

How to Achieve This Goal

There are a few things that you can do to increase the confidence in the decisions that you make, such as:

  • Limit your choices. Having too many options for any decision is overwhelming, so narrow them down as best as you can.
  • Do a cost-benefit analysis (weigh the pros and cons) before coming to your final decision. This will help you uncover any potential opportunity costs that you may incur if you decide on one thing over another.
  • Set a time limit for making a decision. This will prevent you from mulling over a decision for 10 hours that should take 10 minutes.
  • Do as much research as you can before making a decision– including talking to other people who have some more experience than you do. For example, I recently had to purchase a new dryer so I called the company in my town who fixes appliances and asked them what machines they get called on the most and the least often to work on. That narrowed down my options really fast.

Here is a video with some more information to help you improve your decision making skills.

Final Thoughts on Personal Development Goals

Your brain and thinking methods both have an impact on every aspect of your life. The personal development goals discussed in this article are all dependent on your ability to retrain your brain to think (and therefore act) in new ways.

Your brain is flexible and can quickly adapt to reaching your new goals when you use the right approach and become more goal-oriented. Take a moment to think about your personal development goals and which of the aforementioned are the most important to you.

If you have had some other goals on your mind, how can you incorporate some of these personal development goals into your own to leverage your success? Reaching one goal can easily open a door to work on another of its kind or help you recognize another area of improvement you may be able to work on in your life.

Finally, if you'd like a few resources that can teach you all the skills on this page, then I recommend checking out these platforms to learn any skill.

Connie Stemmle is a professional editor, freelance writer and ghostwriter. She holds a BS in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her 4-year-old daughter, running, or making efforts in her community to promote social justice.

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36 Examples of Personal Development Goals for Your Career & Life