Self improvement and personal growth is best achieved by setting purposeful and meaningful personal development goals.
Why? Because these kinds of goals support you personally and professionally in your life and your journey. They are true to you, your values, and your hopes for yourself.
Personal development goals have one focus: helping you achieve those things that will make you better as a person, will better your situation, and help you make progress on the things that matter to you.
In an ideal world you would already be everything you think you want and need yourself to be; but in reality, developing yourself takes a lot of work and effort just like any other goal, and your definition of success is evolving all the time. Personal development goals transform you from your current self to your desired self. As you grow and develop, so will these goals, morphing and changing with you over time to challenge you in new ways.
Looking for a more successful and improved you? Here’s how you can set personal development goals to do just that. Use these tips to guide you along in shaping and developing your own personal development goals and see what an amazing difference they can make!
First, think big
The first step in developing your personal development goals is the same step you would take for any other type of goal: look to your long term goals first.
During the goal-setting process, it’s important to look at the big picture you have for yourself and letting those guide your way. Where are your goals ultimately taking you, what are they leading you towards becoming and being?
If you start setting goals without thinking about your big, long term goals first, you might spend time working on goals that you later realize weren’t helpful or important.
So pull out your planner and look at the 5-10 year, or longer, goals that you have for yourself. Even if these goals aren’t outlined in specific detail, that’s okay. Alternatively, look at your yearly goal or theme if you haven’t formulated goals that are longer.
Then use these long term goals or themes to guide you in brainstorming shorter term personal development goals specifically, including weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly goal terms. In this way, your personal development goals are tied to and support your longer terms goals and your goals aren’t in conflict with one another. What small things can you do each day or in a month that will grow you into the future person you want to become?
Knowing there is a connection between the shorter term personal development goals you set and longer term life goals is motivational and will keep you connected to what you want for yourself in the big picture.
If your long term goal or theme is already one that falls within the personal development realm (for example becoming a more confident leader or living a healthier lifestyle), the process is the same. Shorter term goals in support of that bigger goal are still super important.
Brainstorming personal development goals
With your long term goals fresh in your mind, it’s time to drill down into more specifics and get brainstorming on your personal development goals!
You can use a mind map, lists, or doodle to help you organize your thoughts and ideas. Write or draw them out on paper so you can see them. Don’t be afraid of what you come up with or ignore what you initially think is a silly or dumb idea; include all of the ideas you have without judgment at this early stage. You can filter them later.
- If you’re using a mind map, write out a brief version of your long term goal in the middle of a blank sheet of paper. Around that word or phrase, draw arrows out to bubbles with the personal development goal ideas that relate to and support it.
- For a list, put your long term goal at the top of the sheet of paper, then list your personal development goal ideas below it. You can categorize them if that helps or do it later after you’ve written out all of your ideas.
- If you prefer visuals, draw what your long term goal looks like to you in the middle of a blank sheet of paper and draw little images that represent your personal development goal ideas around it.
Using a list approach, here are two examples of different kinds of personal development goal ideas that support a long term personal and professional goal:
1. Let’s say that one of your long term goals is to expand on and sell your first business in the next 10 years. You’ll need to grow yourself personally during this time in order to achieve such a large professional goal. Personal development goals in support of this long term goal might include some of the following:
- Improve your communication skills – this can help you grow your network and better pitch your business/product to investors or buyers
- Stop procrastinating – ending procrastination on the little things in your life will ensure you have time to reach that long term goal and establish a lasting good habit
- Start your day earlier or go to bed on time – this can help you get enough rest and make the most of the time you have day
- Use time blocking – efficiently using your time each day is an important personal development habit
- Work on your confidence – this can help you feel comfortable with different personalities and in different settings
- Complete a leadership training course – acquire skills you need to lead your business successfully
2. A more personal, less career oriented long term goal example is to buy and renovate your dream home. Your personal development goals in support of this goal might include:
- Educate yourself on construction and home improvement – learning about the process and becoming familiar with terminology and construction methods keeps you educated and aware of new trends
- Learn and/or improve your negotiation skills – this can help you save money if you need to hire contractors or service providers
- Improve your organizational skills – keeping clear, organized records ensures you have the documentation you need for tax purposes or city permits
- Become more proactive – little problems can turn into big problems if they’re avoided and not taken care of early on
- Complete courses related to zoning, construction trades, fire prevention, etc. – this can help you talk knowledgeably with contractors or connect you with others in the field
- Build muscle/physical strength – so you can be strong enough to do some of the renovations yourself
Stay accountable to yourself
Once you’ve brainstormed your personal development goals, it’s important to ensure they are SMART so you can achieve them and be successful:
S – Specific and precise. Your personal development goals should be very clear and it should be obvious what your goal is in 1 to 2 sentences.
M – Measurable. Make everything measurable in terms of how much, how many, how far, how long, etc. so that you will know when you have achieved the goal and whether you were successful.
A – Achievable and realistic. Goals should take into account resources and constraints, hurdles and limitations.
R – Relevant. Make sure your goals are applicable to you, what you want, and where you are, especially important for personal development goals.
T – Time bound. Give your goals have a target date that will keep you accountable and on track; it helps you to focus on what you can do today, this week, within 3-4 months, this year etc. so that you can build towards your long term goals successfully.
And surround yourself with people that support you and your personal development goals. This could mean:
- Networking with people that have similar long term or personal development goals for support or ideas
- Finding a mentor to help you stay on track and guide you during uncertain times
- Letting loved ones know that this is your current personal development goal and this is how you’re working to achieve it
- Spending less time with those who have the opposite goals or are unsupportive
Personal development goals are all about you
Become a stronger, smarter, better and more improved you by setting personal development goals for yourself. Celebrate your growth and potential with every goal that you achieve and you’ll be amazed at how much you progress!