Most everyone is familiar with the implied imperative to set personal goals. In fact, before New Year’s Eve, we are bombarded with personal goal suggestions and advertisements – get Peleton and get fit, or see yourself in an Audi. However, in addition to personal objectives, we also need professional goals examples on a regular basis to keep from stagnating.

Reasons to Set Professional Goals

Reasons to Set Professional Goals

  • Increase earnings and be financially secure
  • Attain a higher position at work or work for a targeted employer
  • To start and succeed at having your own business
  • For personal growth and self-satisfaction

Suggested Work Goals to Make Your Own

Here are a few examples of career goals to start you thinking:

  • Find a mentor
  • Learn a new software
  • Get a certification
  • Participate in your employer’s investment options to the fullest match
  • Learn about one new time management, productivity, or collaboration tool or app per month and implement the best of them. You might use Asana or Trello with your team, or investigate the Pomodoro Technique for managing time in 25-minute increments, for example.

Work Goals Examples for Evaluation Purposes

An excellent way to identify rewarding professional development goals is to have productive conversations with your supervisor, either during a scheduled performance review or by sharing that you are interested in career development to help you improve your contribution to the organization. 

Most companies have a list of performance goals and objectives outlined in the job description. Using that as a launching point to help you set goals with management that will result in the recognition you desire. You might ask your manager for some specific examples of work goals they would like to see you set.

If you are a supervisor, a goal might be to set some team goals for your direct reports. Sample goals for employees can relate to their individual contributions to the team or a project.  Shared goals can be celebrated together and can contribute to ongoing work satisfaction for all involved.

Steps to Identifying Achievable Professional Goals

  1. Give yourself time to decide what types of goals you want to set and why. Understanding how your goals fit into your overall values will motivate you to complete them.
  2. Set some timeframes. Perhaps you will allocate 3 weeks to goal identification. Then another week to make a plan of what’s needed to reach your goal. Make sure you have valid assumptions about what is needed to achieve the goal. Perhaps you’d like a promotion. What are the criteria for that, and how do you demonstrate that you have achieved it?
  3. Write out your goals in specific, concrete language. Actually writing them down is key. Put your goals somewhere that you can see them frequently. You can also create a talisman or reminder of your goal, like a newly minted coin that you can carry in your pocket or put on your work keyboard. Only you need to know the meaning of this object.
  4. Set milestones for your goal into a digital or written calendar. Make sure these milestones are measurable so that you can say, “Yes! I did it” or realize where you need to redouble your efforts.

Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals 

  • Surround yourself with positive people. By associating with those you’d like to become more like, you improve your chances of modeling the behavior to realize your goals.
  • Likewise, just say “no” to toxic people. Colleagues or friends who are negative about their work-life will not help you keep the right frame of mind, especially if they are not doing anything to improve their circumstances.
  • Set performance goals for your health and fitness concurrent with your professional goals. When you take good care of your body, you gain mental balance and self-confidence that fuel your own and others’ perceptions of your competence.
  • Other examples of personal goals that will help you succeed at work are making sure you have life/work balance by leaving on time and scheduling and planning your vacations. 

Resources to Help You With Professional Goals

  • LinkedIn
    Creating a robust LinkedIn profile and using this professional networking site strategically can help you achieve your goals in several ways. It can help you network with those with similar professional roles and compare best practices. Developing an extensive network of credible professionals and optimizing your profile with keywords related to your career goals improve your chances of getting found by headhunters for better positions, as well as chances of discovering or getting discovered by someone who might be a collaborator for a professional project.
  • Podcasts
    Podcasts are having their moment in the sun for a good reason. They are all about content, and they can be a great motivator. You can listen to them while driving or at the gym. Pick a few from a good list, such as The 71 Best Podcasts for Men. Once you find one or two podcasts that speak to you, you’ll start to discover additional thought leaders that pertain to your specific interests and goals.
  • Your Library
    Becoming a member of your municipality’s library can help with professional goals as well as personal development goals. Many new business books can be borrowed, and some library systems offer free access to, and other educational databases Larger library systems also can be your door to a smorgasbord of free audiobooks, and digital versions of Esquire, Men’s Journal, Entrepreneur, Inc., and Fast Company. If your professional goals include going back to school or learning a language, good library systems have access to prep tests and language resources as well.
  • Life Coaches and Mentors
    You can pay someone to hold you accountable and help you realize your goals. This can help if you are floundering about career direction, or feeling stuck. If you’re fortunate, you may identify someone skilled in your field or organization that you can ask to be your mentor.


To identify career goal examples that are meaningful to you is to read biographies or autobiographies of people you admire. Setting professional goals will make the time you spend at work more rewarding, literally and figuratively. Use the Socratic method of finding things out by asking questions to help you discover what goals you want to set. Ask yourself, “What Is Personal Development? and you may find yourself surprised by how your answers can clue you into personal goal ideas and logical work goals.