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24 Professional Development Goals

Professional development goals are targets that an individual sets to develop their professional talents, knowledge and position. This is distinct from performance objectives that are targets for your work. Professional development goals are about your career as opposed to the value you offer your employer. The following are illustrative examples.


Developing a talent that is relevant to your career.
Improve my art by painting every weekend and completing several works a month.

Domain Knowledge

Learning information that applies to a profession, industry or subject area.
Read medical journals each month to stay up-to-date with new developments in medicine.


Learning how to do something.
Learn how to program in Ruby. Goal: complete training and become proficient in the language.

Tacit Knowledge

Developing tacit knowledge that can't be learned from a book.
Improve my French by traveling to France in summer. Goal: improve pronunciation and inflection.

Direct Experience

Obtaining the experience that is required to move your career along.
Gain experience teaching by securing a teaching assistant position.


Developing new knowledge or compiling knowledge that is applicable to a problem with a process of investigation, analysis and experimentation.
Research to develop an understanding of advanced materials that might improve my designs.


The social process of getting people moving in the same direction.
Attend leadership training and demonstrate leadership in setting the technical direction of the team.


Visibility is the degree to which you are noticed in your industry, organization and team.
Improve my visibility by taking on responsibilities and action items that are of strategic importance.

Personal Presence

Personal presence is the social status that you convey in person-to-person communication.
Work to improve my communication results in meetings by establishing an engaged and collaborative presence.

Public Speaking

Public speaking is the ability to communicate to groups.
Join a public speaking club to improve my delivery of sales presentations.


Productivity is the amount of value you create in an hour of work.
Take an accounting class to improve my productivity in managing the team budget.


Mastery is the process of seeking a high degree of refinement in your work.
Seek a distinctive style in my architectures by developing sketches and models each month.


Creativity is a talent for identifying non-obvious value.
Improve my creative skills by attending improvisation classes.

Design Thinking

Design thinking is the application of design to problem solving, decision making and strategy in any domain.
Attend a design thinking conference or workshop and apply design thinking to problem solving.

Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is the ability to develop realistic plans to achieve goals in an environment of constraints and competition.
Develop my strategic thinking abilities with the use of serious games and simulations.

Cultural Capital

Cultural capital is your ability to influence in the context of a culture.
Attend investment banking conferences to build the knowledge and experience necessary to influence in the industry.

Relational Capital

Networking to develop relational capital.
Attend design conferences and other creative events to establish industry contacts.

Self Direction

Self direction is the ability to cut through ambiguity, constraints and challenges without help.
Work to manage expectations and negotiate for a set of objectives and action items that are valuable to the team and my career.


Developing technical skills at the level of an architect, designer, implementer or user.
Learn how to use data analytics tools to improve strategy and decision making.

Respect & Recognition

Gaining respect and recognition from your peers.
Develop a reputation for technical leadership, knowledge and vision by aggressively researching technical issues and presenting information that is of value to the moment.


Gaining more authority, responsibility and accountability in a similar role.
Demonstrate leadership and deliver quality work to earn a promotion to senior software developer.

Career Change

An ambition to change your career. Do not communicate this to your employer unless they have opportunities available in your target career and are likely to support you.
Gain experience giving product demonstrations to customers in preparation for transitioning to the sales team.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance mostly means that you are able to be productive, manage commitments and prioritize so that your career doesn't decrease your quality of life by consuming all of your time and energies.
Improve time management skills to reduce overtime.


Earning formal qualifications such as degrees and certifications.
Complete an MBA degree.


As professional development goals apply to your career as opposed to your performance there is typically no need for them to be smart or measurable.

Professional Development

This is the complete list of articles we have written about professional development.
Career Goals
Career Growth
Development Plan
Direct Experience
Employee Goals
Individual Goals
Lifelong Learning
Personal Goals
Professional Growth
Professional Image
Professional Skills
Realistic Goals
Silent Goal
Smart Goals
More ...
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Professional Development Examples

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Personal Development Plan

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