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10 Examples of Professional Goals For Work

Looking for some great professional goals for work?

You’ve received another email from HR.

‘Set professional goals.’

Okay, great. But what should they be? 

And should you take setting goals for personal growth seriously this time? 

Too often, development goals can seem like extra paperwork rather than tangible, attainable objectives related to your career path.

And what’s worse is when the end of the quarter comes, and you haven’t worked on anything (yikes!) or learned something new (double yikes!)

This becomes an even bigger problem when you’re involved in remote project management as there’s nobody there to help you with those goals in person.

But don’t worry!

This article covers everything you need to know about professional goals, and we’ll also take a look at 10 examples of development goals that will help you move forward in your career.

Ready, set, go(al)! 🏁

What Are Professional Development Goals?

Professional development goals are the actionable steps you need to take to grow in your chosen career.

Basically, professional goals are the key to answering that elusive job interview question: “where do you see yourself and your career in five years?” 

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Hopefully, after you’ve read this article, that interview question won’t seem so daunting anymore.

But before you decide on an action plan, you need to go through a decision-making process to figure out where you want to be!

Once you’ve done this, you need to set both short term and long-term goals that will help you get there.

A short term goal is an objective that you want to achieve in the near future. This could be in the next few days or a month’s time, as long as it’s under a year.

And a long term goal requires more time and planning. A long term career goal isn’t something you can do this week or even this year. It’s a goal you plan to achieve in a few years’ time.

NOTE: Check out Goals in ClickUp!

Why Set Goals For Work?

Before we tackle some professional development goals and examples, take a minute and think about why professional work goals and life goals are important and how they can contribute to career success.

Apart from the fact that professional development objectives keep you motivated and contribute towards your career advancement, here are three other reasons why you need a work goal:

1. Goals provide vision 

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What do you hope to learn? 

What do you hope to achieve? 

Do you want to be in the same place this time next year or three years from now? 

And that doesn’t only mean a job change or getting promoted to a higher-level position. It also means building on your skillset and capabilities. 

If your manager is asking you to read a book, attend a conference or take a class, it shouldn’t only be an excuse to do something different. It should be a way to help you with your work and your personal life. 

For example, improving your emotional intelligence is something everyone can work on and benefit from, both in their personal and professional life.

See, it’s all about work life balance! 🎯

This is especially important for any remote team as many virtual team challenges center around struggling to find purpose since you’re usually isolated from everyone else. A recent ClickUp case study found that 51% of American workers feel as though they lose at least an hour/day being inefficient at work from things as simple as email overload, or feeling disconnected from the team.

2. Goals provide clarity.

It’s too easy to get caught in the rat race of daily, urgent activities and lose sight of the big picture of what you or your team are working towards. 

You probably have a daily or weekly list of career goals in a sprint or project. Maybe it’s all listed out for you on a Scrum board.

And if it’s not, why not manage your sprints and projects in ClickUp?

With ClickUp’s Agile-Scrum Workflow, you can break your big goal into smaller Goals in Sprints. This way, you can also see how every task contributes to your overall Goal.

sprints in clickup

And don’t forget to use List view to see the tasks that need to be done to get your Sprint done.

Irrespective of where your tasks are, your professional development goal can help you focus on where you need to improve and what actionable steps will take you there. 

Goals will help you think about where you need improvement. This, in turn, makes for better resource allocation as you know where to devote most of your time and energy.

3. Goals are measurable.

Or at least reasonable goals are. 

When you’re creating professional development goals, have a way to quantify them, or else they’re not really effective goals.

You could do SMART Goals or OKRs or KPIs or some other form of alphabet soup. 

Your choice. 

But you’ve got to show progress and have achievable goals. 

If you don’t, then:

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Back to our soup, OKR is an acronym for objective and key result. 

It’s a goal setting concept that helps you set a measurable goal.

A KPI is usually a performance review metric that focuses on tracking employee performance.

OKRs focus on more ambitious goals while KPIs focus on helping you set a realistic goal (read our related article: OKRs vs KPIs).

However, both tools help companies boost employee engagement by enhancing goal transparency.

And since your employees are aware of the organizational goals, they can align their personal development goals with their employee performance goals!

To boil down those points, answer these three questions before setting professional development goals:

  • What do you hope to achieve?
  • What areas need improvement?
  • How will you measure achieving the goal?

With those in mind, you can create a specific goal.

Looking for some performance goals? Here are 9 performance goals and objectives.

4. Goals help you stand out

Successful people set goals because they know that the goal-setting process plays a significant role in helping them achieve their big dreams.

By setting professional goals, you’ll have more of an opportunity to stand out from your coworkers and improve your overall work experience.

How?

When you achieve your goals, you feel more accomplished, successful, and confident.

And you’ll walk around with a spring in your step.

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10 Professional Work Goals For 2021

Here are 10 goals for professional development that will help you reach your desired career path:

1. Take a course to sharpen your skills

I have a bad habit where I buy courses, but then don’t follow through and complete the material or even work towards my learning goal.

Don’t do the same thing! 

Industry titans (no matter your niche!) are starting and offering courses that will definitely help you improve. 

Learning goals also provide an important boost to personal development. They allow you to take control of your knowledge.

Here are some ideas for courses and online resources you can learn from:

Before enrolling or jumping on a deal, investigate and see if it’s the right fit for you and if the instructors/organizers have something valuable to share. 

Taking courses and going back to get another degree are also great examples of measurable goals for employees. 

Why?

Attending class, passing exams, and completing the course are solid ways to measure goal progress.

Not to mention, you’ll also have more accomplishments to add to your resume, which makes it easier to secure that dream job you’ve been eyeing!

2. Learn a new tool (or 5)

If you’re trying to organize your projects, create a new dev environment or make beautiful videos, you’ll need to experiment a bit first. 

You may know how to do some of those things with old tools, but it’s always important to see what else is out there. 

A lot of us early adopter types may do this already, but why not formalize it a bit? 

That way, you could make it a goal and then communicate with the rest of your team members about what’s happening and maybe even convert it to a team goal.

Adding knowledge of different kinds of project management software to your skills will help you further along in your career, especially at other jobs that may use a wide variety of tools. 

For example, if you use Agile project management, why not consider familiarizing yourself with a tool like ClickUp? It’s like having multiple tools built into one 😉

3. Improve your public speaking and presentations

The modern workforce is dominated by meetings, and those meetings are often dominated by PowerPoints and speaking.

Might as well improve your presentation skills, huh? 

Storytelling at work is at a premium, so “slide” right into that.

And you’ll also improve your communication skills #WInWIn.

As part of this goal, research different presentation techniques (like TED talks) and also think about the layout and design of your PowerPoint presentation, not just what you’re trying to say.

4. Research other departments

Researching other departments is one of the greatest short term career goals out there.

Why?

If you want to work up for a promotion (or maybe jump over to the competition!) make it a goal to spend time with another department. 

So how do you go about setting goals like this?

It’s simple:

  • Get coffee (super easy)
  • Ask for a tour of another department (like visiting your software department’s Scrum team)
  • Attend a different division’s team meeting just to see how it goes

Unfortunately, most companies don’t officially make these department dates, so it’ll be up to you to make it happen. 

But once you do, you’ll create new relationships (for when that next opening comes along!) or make a new friend for the cafeteria. 

You’d be surprised at how many responsibilities a Scrum role comes with!

5. Improve your team collaboration

Team collaboration should be a mandatory employee goal.

Why?

As our number of communication tools has increased, our actual communication seems to have gotten worse. 

Bummer. 

But, this means that improving team collaboration and communication could be one of your professional development goals!

Stunner!

In your search, you may find that your team needs a whole new tool (ClickUp anyone?) or better team communication habits in general. 

This may mean creating new guidelines for your team to follow (put everything in ClickUp!) or guidelines on what to avoid (no more all-company emails).

And while you’re at it, why not try out ClickUp’s collaborative features?

From real-time editing in our Docs to Collaboration Detection, ClickUp is the only team communication tool you’ll ever need to get everyone on the same page.

clickup docs

But that isn’t all.

Each ClickUp task comes with its own comment section where your team can discuss task-specific ideas and share relevant documents. 

You can even use the Chat view to easily keep track of all your messages and for quick watercooler-like discussions with your team to keep everyone engaged!

6. Build your network

This is on my goals list every year, even though I rarely feel like I’ve succeeded. Sure, I’ve made some great contacts at in-person events and online, but have I been intentional? 

Not really. 

This is where the “measurable” part falls short for me. 

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If you’re in sales, networking probably comes easily to you as it’s part of your job anyway. 

Your daily activity is benchmarked by how many contacts you have and the amount of outreach you’ve made. 

For the rest of us, it’s not always like that. 

But maybe it should be? 

We don’t have to score sales-level goals, but you could try these ideas once a week or month and even track it:

  • Attend a conference
  • Go to a local meetup 
  • Schedule a call with someone in your field

7. Research a competitor

Again, this could be something that you’re already doing (especially in product marketing), but it may not be a normal part of your job. 

Creating a comprehensive overview of how your competitors have set things up could be immensely valuable to you and your team. 

Example: If you’re a designer in charge of social media graphics, you can take an inventory of the number and type of competitor posts that include images. 

If you’re a front-end developer, maybe you need to purchase or subscribe to your competitor’s tools for a month or two to see how they arrange and set up their features. 

In both circumstances, you can record and benchmark their work against yours and look for ways to improve.

8. Get better at time management

If you don’t make time to accomplish your goals, then…get this…there will be no goal accomplishment.

But it’s not only about making time for more strategic goals; it’s about the ability to be more productive at your work.

You’ll need to free up a few hours for strategic work or finishing more projects than you did the year before. 

To do that, new processes and habits are needed. 

With ClickUp, you can use lots of features to improve your time management, like…

time tracking in ClickUp

Listing time management as one of your professional development goals may seem meta, but it actually will help you get more of your *real* work finished.

Looking for some tips on how to reach your productivity goals? Check out some work-life tips that will increase your productivity.

9. Find new challenges in your role

HR people love a professional development goal like this. 

It shows your ambition, smarts and savvy. 

It’s especially great if your company has always wanted to do something, but the know-how and follow-through have been lacking. 

So what can you do?

  • Propose and mock-up a new product feature
  • Run tests in a new channel
  • Make inroads to a new market segment
  • Revise old documentation (No one will fight you for this one). 
  • Take an additional shift
  • Create a company-wide volunteer day

10. Become a business owner 

Taking on a new job and starting a small business are two different things.

Building a business is a long-term goal commitment and requires a lot of hard work, and you need to take on a leadership role.

Luckily, the internet has made it a lot easier for people like you and me to go ahead and learn a new skill, such as launching a website.

Not to mention, COVID-19 has led to an increase in online retail stores, and they’re actually seeing a lot of success!

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Interested?

To help you get started, try out ClickUp’s ready-made Templates!

Use ClickUp’s Website Management, Sales, and Business Operations templates to get ahead with your new online business.

clickup templates

Or if you’ve always wanted to start a marketing agency or start freelancing, ClickUp has the tools to help you productively create and organize your content.

clickup list view

Becoming a business owner is one of the easiest ways to force yourself to take on more responsibility and be more accountable.

Just don’t forget to set some company goals for your new business!

5 Tips To Help You Achieve Your Professional Goals 

Here are five tips to help you reach your professional career goals:

1. Write them 

The first step is writing down your job goals. 

Although your goals have to be realistic, you shouldn’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and set ambitious goals.

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I know.

Once you’ve gotten off that couch, seeing your personal goals for work every day will remind you of what you need to do to achieve them.

And to do this, why not add your career goal to ClickUp?

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You can even edit and move every individual Goal into its related Goal Folder.

And use Targets for goal check ins to see how close you are!

clickup goal tracking

2. Share them

One of the key elements of successful goal achievement is motivation.

That’s why you need to share your career goal with friends, family and even work colleagues. 

Sharing goals with people you see daily can help you stay committed to your workplace goals.

For example, you’ve registered for a business course, and you know you should be studying for an upcoming exam.

But then you decide to go out instead (don’t we all 😩)

Who’s going to stop you?

Certainly not yourself!

That’s why you need others to keep you accountable.

In ClickUp, you can choose to share your Goal with a select group of people. This way, you have even more people motivating you.

3. See them

By this, we mean to visualize it in your head.

You should visualize yourself having achieved your career goal.

If you want to be a business owner, then visualize your business, the employees and office space.

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And to visualize your progress, you should have Goal milestones. Milestones signify the end of a big group of tasks, such as finishing a key step in meeting your career goal.

Luckily, in ClickUp’s Gantt view, Milestones shine, literally.

Your Milestones are represented as diamond shapes to help you see all the big items that need to be completed in your timeline 🔶

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Check out this ultimate guide to milestones.

4. Time them

To achieve your goals, you need to have a time frame in mind. 

But don’t forget to give yourself enough time to reach your goal without ruining your work life balance.

Deadlines will keep you working towards your goals and once you’ve achieved a goal, you can celebrate by ticking it off the initial list you stuck on your desk, fridge or bedroom wall!

To help you, ClickUp lets you add Goal details including Due Dates.

Here’s what you can set:

  • The name of your Goal
  • The due date 
  • Who’s responsible for it
  • Who can access the Goal folder
  • A breakdown of your Goal

And if that’s not enough, you can try out our Task Management features!

With our Task Management features, you can Create Tasks and add Due Dates to them.

clickup tasks due dates

And what’s more, is you can even set Recurring Tasks This way, you’ll never forget to routinely work towards your Goal!

clickup recurring tasks

5. Make them smart

Once you’ve set your goals for work, you need to be proactive and work towards that set goal.

So how do you do this?

All you have to do is be SMART.

No, that wasn’t a joke.

You really need to have a SMART Goal.

SMART Goals is a goal setting process that will help you when you’re setting goals for work.

How?

SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound:

Specific: helps you set career goals that are clear and well-defined

Measurable: helps you decide how you will measure your goal progress

Achievable: helps you set a realistic goal that can be achieved in a specific time frame

Relevant: helps you set goals that align with your values and desired end result or career plan

Time-bound: helps you set a realistic deadline for your goal

The bottom line is that setting goals that are SMART will help you reach your desired outcome goal.

Check out our list of goal setting software that will help you reach your SMART goals.

The Final Stretch 🏃

Obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list of how your professional goals should be organized. 

Our list of career goals examples is just a stepping stone.

Review those personal development goals for work examples and see if you come up with new possibilities. 

This is your career, and it’s essential to set and track goals to help you reach success.

Your professional development goals and goal setting will be contingent on your specific situation and the state of your company. 

Hopefully, this list will let you explore, research and develop your own career, and then maybe help you realize your ultimate goal and achieve success.

So, get back to that email from HR and add your goals in ClickUp for free today!

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