7 Examples of Personal Development Goals for work that will make you happy and successful

personal development goals for work a man sitting in office

As much as I would like to take credit for the statement I’m about to put forth, it’s nothing original.

So, here is an unoriginal and totally unrelated statement that has guided me pretty much through my adult life.

Life is much more about the journey itself than the destination.

This is what I remember when I’m going through hard times especially. I remind myself that I’m at that point to learn something that will make me better.

The full gist is that no matter where you currently are, either you are unhappy, or you are ecstatic about your career; you can never stop learning. You can never stop setting personal development goals for work.

It is said that the moment you stop growing, you are dying.

Because when you are no more growing personally, you can get stuck.

7 Examples of personal development goals for work to become happier and more successful

This post is going to be focused on some scientifically backed examples of personal development goals for work that can be set by individuals to enjoy a better quality of life.

When you are able to acquire the following skills, you discover that your income increases, you have more time to do the things you care about, and you are less stressed.

Goal #1: Become a certified time management guru

a person working on clock and time management

Why do most people feel miserable at their current jobs?

It is either if the pay isn’t good enough to make ends meet or if they can’t find a way to balance their working hours with their personal time. This results to stress and eventually, burnout.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Janata, most of us are stressed when we feel like we have no control over the events in our lives—this is where time management comes in.

Proper time management can increase our sense of control.

If you are able to solve this time puzzle, your life and your job become easier and more enjoyable.

The key to achieving a balance between work and home is to manage your 24 hours effectively.

In a study carried out on 353 employees with variety in their jobs, it was found that when these employees engaged in some form of time management behavior, there was reported increase in job satisfaction. Not only that, there was also a notable reduction in stress in these employees.

Here are some of the best practices to check off your list when attempting to manage your time effectively;

How to become a certified time management guru?

  1. Do an accounting of where your time goes daily and weekly

This is the first thing that has to be done. Take a week to log the activities you are doing at work and off work. For some form of guideline, do this at an hourly rate.

  1. Learn how to prioritize

According to Pareto’s principle, 20% of the actions we take actually give us 80% of the results we get. So, at work, take a look at the tasks you have to do and prioritize until you have your 20%. The aim here is that you want to be doing those 20% first.

  1. Create SMART goals

It’s not enough to create goals around your work tasks. You need to make these goals SMART. To do this effectively, check out this post on how to create SMART goals.

  1. Cut time-wasters out of your life

Time-wasters come in various forms. They are often so sneaky that before you know what’s going on, they’ve sucked away precious time like a vampire does its prey’s veins.

Everybody has their own poison. Mine is youtube. It got to a stage where I had to blacklist youtube.com on my company’s computer.

Yeah! That bad!

According to the survey conducted by the Nielsen research company in the second quarter of 2018, TV takes away 4 hours 46 minutes from the average person’s life every day. Everything related to Social media accounts for nearly 2 hours every day according to social media today.

This means that if you can find a way to reduce your TV time and social media time, you automatically have spare time which you can invest positively in your life.

  1. Learn the subtle art of saying NO

I’m as proud of many of the things we haven’t done as the things we have done. Innovation is saying NO to a thousand things — Steve Jobs.

Don’t be a yes-man!

Although it eventually turned out well for Jim Carrey in the movie, the reality is far different.

Have you ever heard the story of the yes-man?

Well, he’s that person at your work that always says yes to everything and everyone in an attempt to please others.

He’s that person that will be the busiest but will complain to you at the end of the day that he didn’t get much work done.

Because of his lack of ability to guide his energy, he’ll burn-out and eventually lose his mind.

Just joking.

Worst case scenario, he quits or he gets fired because he’s not doing quality work.

When you constantly say yes, you will end up biting more than you can chew. Both in terms of your energy and your time.

But try not to be a jerk about saying NO to people though. You have to train yourself to find the balance between saying NO and saying YES. There is a very thin line that you have to know not to cross.

This art is subtle. It takes time to perfect. Because there’s a very thin line between saying no and becoming a jerk. And there is also a much more thin line between saying no and getting fired.

The most simple fix I’ve found not to become a yes-man is to strictly become goal-oriented and intensify your planning efforts. Know what your job is at work (your 20%) and put that before any other thing.

  1. Plan your day the day before

Plan your day ahead!!


Planning your tasks ahead and working from a pre-written task list automatically saves you 2 hours per day.

If you take it to the next level and plan your day the day before, you are 11% more likely to succeed in achieving those tasks according to a survey by rescuetime.

  1. Get How to get more done in less time

If after doing all these, you are still struggling with time management, get this program that will help you easily become a time management guru.

Goal #2: Become an expert in your field

a logo depicting learning training and coaching an expert

Always strive to make yourself more desirable by becoming an expert in your field.

Why is this important?

For starters, you get promoted faster, and you make more money as a result.

And as far as career options go, irrespective of the economic situation of your country, you will have more—and in some cases, better—options than the average Joe.

If you are still wondering why all these could be possible by becoming an expert, I want you to know that being an expert means far better output from you.

Your company starts noticing this efficiency. And as a plus, you are able to be efficient with your time.

In a research conducted by Hunter et. al., it was found that in jobs that are not tasking or complex, the experts produced 25% more than the average Joe. They also produced 75% more than the bottom Joe in terms of work output.

But in jobs that are complex, like professional jobs and sales jobs, the experts produced a whopping 80% more than the average Joe and 700% more than the bottom Joe.

With these figures, it is clear that being average in your field won’t cut it anymore.

How to become an expert at anything

  1. You need ten years worth of deliberate practice

The hard truth is that it takes years of learning, failures, mistakes, nail-biting and head-banging effort to become an expert at anything.

Malcolm Gladwell discussed in his bestseller Outliers that you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to become an expert at anything.

Although this 10,000 hours theory has been refuted by a study in Princeton—which argued that it takes much more than practice to become an expert, the role of deliberate practice is still vital in becoming an expert.

Deliberately practicing something you are familiar with can actually make you worse and not improve at all.

Deliberate practice has now been shown to involve pushing yourself, not just doing easy work. It also involves setting meaningful goals and constantly learning from both your mistakes and success.

To summarize, no matter how talented you may be in your field, you still have to practice to become an expert.

  1. The P-word is sort of a must

The true common attribute among experts is that they are committed and persistent.

You need to be committed and persistent to stand through the 10,000 hours of the good kind of deliberate practice required to become an expert in your field.

What happens in most cases is that it’s somehow difficult to stay committed to something you are not really Passionate about.

In the words of Sally Hogshead, author of radical careering, “the word passion has to be seen as a non-negotiable element of your career.

You can find a field you are passionate about if you’re not already in it.

If you already find yourself in a lifeless field, you can find a way to inject your passion into it.

Either way, Passion is a must.

  1. Take a course online every year

After you’ve found a way to inject passion into your work, it’s time to start looking for ways to learn. The internet has made learning quite easy nowadays. You can easily find a really good course online without having to leave your office or your house.

  1. Look for mentors in your field

Associating with people that are already experts in your field will help you on your journey to becoming an expert. Sharing their experiences will save you time by letting you avoid the mistakes they made.

  1. Always attend training and workshops related to your field, every chance you get

When there’s an opportunity for seminar or training at your place of work, always be the first to register. These things have a way of paying dividends later in your career. If your company has a culture of training its employees, embrace the culture whole-heartedly.

If the culture is absent where you work, make sure you personally work on attending seminars and training at least once a year.

  1. Be in the know of what’s happening in your field

We now live in a jet age. Things move so fast. The newest innovation in a particular field can become obsolete the following month.

So, it’s your job to follow events as they unfold in your field. You can subscribe to a magazine that is specifically about your field. Have them delivered to your E-mail or to your doorstep.

This is a good habit to have because you’ll be updated about the latest trends and you won’t miss a trick.

Goal #3: Learn how to create rapport

personal development goals for work

Do you feel a wave of fear and anxiety run through your veins when you hear the sound of your morning alarm and realize you have to go to work?

Or do you wake up, and when you think of going to work, you feel as you would if you were meeting some close friends for drinks?

The distance between dreading work and relishing work is bridged by the relationship you have with your co-workers.

According to mindtools.com, learning how to create rapport will increase opportunities and increase job satisfaction irrespective of the industry or the position you hold.

The kind of relationship you have with your co-workers has a huge role to play on the level of your job satisfaction.

We always think that it is only the people in the sales department that need to learn how to create rapport. We can’t be more wrong.

Jack the Accountant needs to create rapport with John from management, who he meets every day at the coffee machine.

Another mistake we always make is the mistake of thinking that rapport is in-built and not something that can be learned.

I would recommend starting with How to Win Friends and Influence People by Carnegie. And since some of the principles in this great book don’t apply to the world anymore, you can proceed to read How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes.

You can make learning how to create rapport a course by going on Amazon and reading the top books on creating rapport.

And speaking of reading, this will take us to the next goal on the list of your personal development goals for work.

Goal #4: Become a voracious reader

a library containing a lot of books

Just like your body needs food for sustenance, your brain needs books.

Researchers have concluded that the brain’s super-food is books.

Bill Gates said in an interview with The New York Times that he reads about 50 books a year.

Bill Gates is not the only tycoon that knows the value of reading every day. Ellon Musk learned how to build a rocket from books. Warren Buffet, Aliko Dangote; all know that in order to grow and earn more money, you have to constantly read.

In the 5-year long study where Tom Corley interviewed 233 wealthy individuals, he found that 88% of those wealthy people read at least 30mins per day.

According to the 33rd President of the United States, “not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers”.

John Kwik, a brain fitness expert and speed-reading coach said that the average CEO reads four or five books per month.

What these CEOs know for a fact is that growing a habit of reading every day helps to grow expertise, expand your knowledge, and helps to derive inspiration from other people’s stories.

The more you read, the more you know. It’s as simple as that.

Reading also helps you relax

And apart from the increase in knowledge, this research conducted at the University of Liverpool on clinically depressed patients found an association between reading and reduction in depression. The study also found a significant improvement in the mental health of the participants.

Reading has also been found as the most effective way to reduce stress when compared to listening to music or taking a cup of tea according to a research conducted at the University of Sussex. The researchers found that after just 6 minutes of reading, the stress level of participants was reduced by 68%.

Reading can serve as a way to blow off steam while helping to improve the cognitive functioning of the brain.

And as a bonus, if you are able to develop this habit, you’ll be able to achieve Goal #2 we talked about earlier more easily.

How to become an expert reader

  1. Read a page in a book every day

If reading is not something you do regularly, it’s a huge leap to start reading for 5 hours every day as Warren Buffet does.

So, you ideally want to start small and build up from there. The age-old formula when it comes to reading habits is to make sure to read at least a page in a book every day.

  1. Take a speed reading class

If you are already thinking of this, then you are in good company. Tony Robbins knew that he wanted to become a professional NLP practitioner. And he knew that he could do it through books. So, the first thing he did was to take a speed reading class.

This act will increase your drive to read, it will save you time, and it will help you to read more books.

  1. Use any means necessary

If you are so hard pressed on time that it is impossible to squeeze out 30 minutes of your 24 hours to dedicate to reading, then you have to try another approach.

This approach is the use of audiobooks. Audiobooks are readily available nowadays. We have audible and some other great platforms. So, whenever you are going about your day, you can switch the music you listen to for audiobooks.

  1. Don’t forget to practice what you read

It’s true that all leaders are readers. But it is only those readers that act on what they’ve read that become leaders. Deliberately practicing what you are reading is what will make the desired impact.

Reading without practice will just make you a knowledge bank and nothing more. Believe me, from personal experience, that’s not a place you want to be.

Goal #5: Get a good relaxation plan

a man stretching and relaxing in the office

Nobody wants to be known as the guy that naps all the time during working hours.

Apart from the funny looks from co-workers, the boss might start complaining.

But do you know that when you are overworked and stressed, you are not that productive? And most importantly, you are unhappy.

This is where a lot of people get it wrong in their workplace. They don’t relax enough. Not that they don’t want to relax, they are scared that the boss will complain.

And for some that are brave enough, they just don’t know how to wind down.

A research conducted at the University of Thessaly on a random sample of 425 employees in the private and public sector found that when stress levels were high, there’s a significant reduction in productivity. And that when there’s no job satisfaction due to overlapping work and personal life, productivity goes down the hill.

Some employers are already catching up on the need to encourage relaxation at the workplace. Companies like Google, Nike, Microsoft, Zappos, and so on now have nap-pods, sleep-pods, and meditation and relaxation centers for their employees.

And these relaxation and meditation are encouraged to be done during working hours.

But if the company you work for, or your own personal business don’t have these types of relaxation culture; you can personally train yourself to be more relaxed at work. Then you will be doing your overall well-being and health a huge favor. Aside from that, you’ll be able to concentrate and focus better.

How to become a professional relaxer

  1. Over-time is over-rated

Over-time doesn’t do any party involved any benefit. Not you, not your company. Studies have recently shown that the more the over-time, the lesser the productivity and the more the stress. So, if you are offered over-time, kindly say no and move on.

  1. Take a power nap at work

Take a 15-20 minute power nap. Power naps are very powerful. According to the National Sleep Foundation, power naps can help to improve mood, alertness, and performance. Great people throughout history have been reported to value their afternoon naps. People like JFK, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and so on.

But a note of warning on napping though; it has been found by a research by Milner and Cote in 2009 that as beneficial as napping is for the body, napping for more than 30 minutes all the time can result in sleep inertia. Make sure your nap is not more than 20 minutes and you are good to go.

So, if anybody accuses you of napping on company time, tell them it’s for the benefit of the company. If they are still giving you the 3rd degree, just direct them to this post you are reading right now.

  1. Don’t let anything come in the way of your leave of absence

Starting from your off-work hours during working days, guide your precious personal time and don’t let anything take it from you. Don’t take your work home with you. All you are just doing is increasing cortisol levels in your body.

Your weekends are more valuable to you than gold. Treat it as such. Also, when it comes time to go on leave, make sure you use each and every minute of it to do things that make you relax.

  1. Meditate more if you are into it

Meditation has a lot of benefits for the brain and it also facilitates relaxation. Its importance has been proven by researchers over and over again.

Goal #6: Learn how to always get ahead of all your work events

an empty conference at the workplace

The early bird gets the worm.

Having a culture of being early (like 10 minutes before the work event Like President Eisenhower’s work philosophy) has a lot of benefits. Apart from being able to get some things done before the actual meeting or seminar, you are projecting an image of professionalism.

If you have people working under you, they are likely going to imbibe this culture as well. Also, your superiors will respect you more and take you more seriously.

If you just start getting to your work earlier every day, you automatically get a psychological jump on your day.

At this point, you might be wondering how you can become an early bird amidst the vicious highway traffic you encounter on your way to work every day.

Well, you need to stick with these two lifestyle changes and you’ll have it covered.

How to become a professional early bird?

  1. Plan your day ahead!

I’m assuming you already have this covered.

  1. Become an early riser

Early rising will not only enable you to get to work early, but it will also entirely transform your life.

There is a quiet time in that early morning time-slot that you’ll find to be very helpful to your career. You can use this time to meditate, plan your day, review your goals for the day, or do any extra-curricular activity you’ve wanted to find the time for.

Several researchers have found a correlation between early rising and success in life.

Another notable benefit that a research by Harvard Biologist Christoph Randler in 2008 discovered on early risers is an increase in being proactive.

Being proactive will actively increase your chances of becoming an early bird.

Goal #7: Start living your life on purpose

It is not only important, but it is necessary to find what your passion is in life. Find a way to inject this passion into what you do for a living. And from this passion, draw a reasonable life’s purpose from it.

People that go to work and don’t have a life’s purpose will just go to where the wind of life blows them. They get frustrated when things are not going their way.

But people that have a life’s purpose will be happier, more resilient, and more goal-oriented. They have a vision, and this vision will keep guiding them.

This is your life’s goal subliminally anyway.

I don’t see why you shouldn’t live your life on purpose.

Conclusion on the examples of personal development goals for work

Apart from individual efforts, employers should make it their responsibilities to help their staffs set personal development goals.

Companies that don’t aid the development of their staffs will be out of business in no time.

A historical example is when Google started allowing their staffs to take 20% of company time to work on their personal development goals at work. And at the end of the day, a staff came up with G-mail.

No matter which stage you currently are in your career, always strive to develop yourself. And then you’ll find that the sky is only the beginning.