CPD tips - How to set smarter personal and professional goals

CPD tips - How to set smarter personal and professional goals

20 Jan 2023

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Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses on your acquisition of knowledge and helps you to organise your time and your resources so that you can make the most of your life. Early in the year, many of us get serious about scoping out ways we want to better ourselves throughout the year, personally and professionally, but the statistics don’t make for particularly motivational reading. Recent studies have shown that of the people that set goals, only 30% of people actually stick to them.

What’s the difference between setting personal and professional goals?

Generally, professional goals are more focused on specific areas of career development that are aimed at reaching milestones on the path towards a holistic improvement in career trajectory.

Personal goals are often more geared towards improving health, happiness, relationships, and personal passions. That said, there is obviously a good amount of overlap between the two. Improving one’s physical and mental health, for example, could massively impact the likelihood of achieving professional goals. As such, though they can be very different, personal and professional goals can often be inextricably linked.

Should I have the same approach for my personal and professional goals?

The answer is, whatever works best for you. Some people prefer to implement a rigid structure that might be more associated with professional goals (like SMART goals) to keep them on track with personal goals. In comparison, others benefit from keeping the approach to personal goals completely different so as not to ‘bring work home’ in a sense.

When it comes to setting both personal and professional goals, see what works best at motivating you and tracking your progress in both settings. Whether you take a similar approach to your personal and professional goals, there are several tried and tested methods that can help you improve your goals and help you to be more successful at achieving them. Here are our top five:

How to set better personal and professional goals

5 Tips for setting better goals:

1.Think about goal selection rather than goal setting

Over-zealous goal-setting is one of the most common reasons people end up losing track and not completing them. You don’t have to achieve everything at once. Take time to assess what you want to achieve and make a priority list. Select the top one or two goals you think are the most important and set these with an achievable deadline. Work towards them within the timeframe and at the deadline, and review your progress. If you’re successful, select your new goals and repeat.

This is a much more sustainable and effective strategy for approaching your goals than making an endless list of everything you’d like to achieve. 

2. Plan your intentions

This is a technique that has been proven to improve your likelihood of following through with your goals. A study undertaken by the British Journal of Health Psychology in 2001 showed that 91% of people who planned their intentions and wrote these plans down followed through. The results show a clear benefit of creating ‘implementation intentions’ (the act of planning clear intentions and putting that plan down on paper). A simple formula for creating these is: ‘when x situation arises, I will do y.’

To increase your chances of achieving your goals, make sure to properly plan when and how you’re going to work towards them and create an implementation intention to set it in stone.

3. Make yourself accountable

Accountability is a crucial element of goal-setting. Anyone who’s tried to start exercising better will know that if you make plans to exercise with someone else, it’s that much harder to bail out. To give yourself the best chance at success finding ways to hold yourself to account, especially with the help of others, is vital. In general, people who employ a combination of well-defined goals with planned intentions are found to be most successful in completing their goals.

4. Break your goals down

There are many different goal-setting frameworks that can be used to help make your goals more manageable as well as understand fully all you need to do to achieve the broader goal. One of the most well-known is called a goal pyramid. Here you start with the ultimate goal at the top and underneath, split that goal into large milestones or tasks and beneath that, split those goals into medium-sized tasks, then finally at the bottom, you are left with a list of manageable tasks to complete to reach your ultimate goal.

This method is particularly helpful in showing how manageable your goal is. If you are left with an insurmountable number of hard-to-achieve tasks at the bottom of your pyramid, you have been overzealous. In this case, you’d need to look to re-assess your over-arching goal to something more manageable.

5. Take a goal-setting CPD course

To really revolutionise your ability to set transformative goals taking an accredited CPD course is a great option. You’ll be able to directly address the barriers that many people face and gain a deeper understanding of how to effectively use goals to your advantage throughout your personal and professional life.

We host a number of goal-setting courses in our CPD Course Catalogue that can help you to take your goal-setting to new heights. If you would like to find out more about a particular CPD course listed on our website, there is an enquiry form to complete that will be sent directly to the relevant CPD provider.

We hope this article was helpful. If you want to become a CPD Provider, please contact our team to discuss your requirements in more detail. Alternatively, if you are looking to record your CPD, please go to the myCPD Portal where you can manage, track and log your learning in one simple place.

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