good profesional development goals

We all know about the importance of goal setting, personally and professionally it’s beneficial to have something to work towards. The process of setting a goal helps you choose where you want to go in life.

Choosing something to focus on will help you determine the steps to getting there and will make the process of achieving your goals more enjoyable.

Goals could range from a promotion at work to managing your time more effectively. In this blog, we’ll look at good professional development goals to help you achieve your dreams, no matter how big or small they are.

Firstly, what are the 3 types of goals?

There are three types of goals – process, performance and outcome, here’s how they differ:


Process goals are specific actions and are 100% controlled by you. For example, a process goal might be to study or work for two hours a day uninterrupted. They’re generally smaller and form part of a bigger outcome goal. By studying for two hours a day you are building blocks that will help you pass your end of year exams – passing the exam would be an outcome goal.


Performance goals are generally based on setting a personal standard, an aspect of your life that you are in control of. For example, personally, it could be to run a certain time in a race (which requires training) or professionally it could be achieving a certain mark in an exam, they are mostly controlled by the individual. In the working world, a performance goal would focus on how the individual’s duties could add to the overall success of the company. Performance goals in business are usually measured using the SMART metric. Is the goal smart, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound? Using SMART allows the employee to develop a good understanding of the goal, its purpose and the way success will be measured.

professional development goals


Outcome goals focus on the endpoint of an event. For example, an athlete’s outcome goal might be to compete at the Olympic Games. Outcome goals are closely supported by process and performance goals. The main difference between an outcome goal and process and performance is that the specific outcome milestone might be out of your control.

You might have followed your process goals and hit all your performance goals to make it to the Olympic Team but the team selectors might not choose you for the event – this is outside of your control. The same can be said of the working environment, you might have met your financial targets, and done hours of extra study but another candidate could beat you at the interview stage and get offered the job.

Don’t let one knockdown set you back. Reset the outcome goal and figure out the process and performance specific goals to get there.

Before we look at good professional development goals, let’s touch on some goal setting tips that will help keep you focused:

  • Set short and long term goals
  • Establish SMART goals
  • Create goals that motivate and inspire you
  • Write down your goals and put them in a place you can see
  • Be flexible and adjust your goals if you need to
  • Recognise and reward yourself when you meet a goal (this is very important!)

Now that we’ve looked at the three types of goals and goal setting tips, what are good professional development goals?

Setting professional development goals will help you improve your career and increase your competencies and capabilities in the workplace. The goals you set should be dependent on your unique aspirations, they can range from learning a new skill to obtaining a degree or going for a big promotion.

We believe setting professional development goals is important because they help you to:

  • Envisage your future. Now, we might not all know what we want “to do” in the future so if the idea of setting a ten year career goal terrifies you, break it down. Work in one year or two year blocks, and if you’re fluid about your career choices, write that down too! A goal could be that every few years you want to try a new industry and mix up the work you do and that’s OK! Your goals need to be individual to you – don’t be afraid to follow your own path.
  • Improve existing workplace skills. There is always room for improvement and it’s true what they say, “everyday is a school day”. Here at Leap Like A Salmon we strongly believe that the day you feel you stop learning is the day to change careers. Keep learning, keep feeling inspired and keeping recording your CPD so you can look back at how far you have come. Honing your current skills allows you to get better and grow in new ways. This will ultimately make you a better employee and even more successful/secure in your career.

  • Encourage you to become a better employee. Showing dedication to your role and the will to advance your career is attractive to employers. Taking the time to get better at what you do will be sure to make a positive impression on your employer. This could mean that opportunities come knocking for you.
  • Feel inspired. Having a goal to work towards can provide a stream of motivation and boost to your productivity in the workplace. Making progress, no matter how small will push you to get the job done.

Here are eight ideas you can use to help you set good professional development goals:

  1. Improve your professional and networking relationships
  2. Obtain a new certification or degree
  3. Read journals books and blogs on professional development
  4. Complete a leadership training course
  5. Seek to increase your responsibilities in the workplace
  6. Choose one skill to focus on each week/month
  7. Learn how to better manage your energy and time at work
  8. Develop a growth mindset by looking for the positives in everything you do.
professional goals
It’s important to make sure you celebrate achieving your goals

No matter what professional development goal you set for yourself remember that there are many ways you could reach your goals. An outcome goal needs performance and process goals along the way and don’t be afraid to shift the outcome of the goal during the process if your priorities change. Using the SMART method will ensure your goal is actionable, realistic and measurable which will keep you on track and motivated.

A final piece of advice on goal setting

And our final bit of advice when it comes to good professional development goals? Regularly review your progress. It’s easy to lose sight of goals, especially if they’re long-term goals. So check in with yourself regularly and review your progress. This could be in the form of a diary or you could (quite literally) talk to yourself about how you think it’s going. Taking this time out to reflect will reassure you that you’re making progress towards each goal and it will keep your motivation high.

We hope this blog has been interesting for you and will help you set measurable professional development goals. For more from us please check out our Knowledge Base for further resources and support with our Ask The Experts or stay informed with our social TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn or why not check out other blog posts too.

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