Great Personal Development Goals To Set For Yourself – And How To Achieve Them

Personal development is the zest of life, says Nikki Soulsby, a Dale Carnegie coach and self-help author. You’re probably already a functional, well-rounded person with great qualities. But setting personal development goals for yourself enhances and deepens your entire experience of life. 

“Zest doesn’t change the recipe, it just makes it better. That’s the goal of personal development. You don’t need to become a different person; it’s just more fun if you’re the best version of yourself,” according to Soulsby. “Regardless of occupation, experience, seniority, or talent, becoming a better you is always a good idea. It can help you reach your professional goals, make the work you’re already doing more impactful, and elevate your personal brand.” 

As a leader, developing yourself on a personal level will help you perform at a higher level, too. “A business won’t grow and develop unless the leaders within are willing to do the same,” adds Liza Provenzano, HR expert and founder of leadership development and coaching practice SparkWorks. As she puts it, effective self-leadership is also necessary to effectively lead others. 

If you’re game to become an even better version of yourself just because you can, here are 7 great goals to set for yourself – along with tips on how to crush them. 

1. Read something every day

Imagine how much you’d learn and grow if you read a little bit every single day. “Even if it’s a two-minute article online or a single page in a fiction novel, this little habit will change your life,” says Soulsby. “Reading expands your vocabulary, strengthens your mental abilities, improves focus, reduces stress, and so much more. Obviously, personal development books and nonfiction are great choices to generate new ideas and keep you motivated, but fiction is also a brain booster.”  

2. Give 10% more  

Soulsby recommends another interesting daily goal that can transform your life: Giving 10% more of yourself in everything you do, whether you’re asked to deliver a presentation at work and add an executive summary to it or even simply being fully present during a video meeting. 

“You don’t need to go overboard. 10% is plenty. Doing 200% of what was asked won’t get you promoted, it will keep you stuck. Why would anyone pay two people when one person can do the work by themselves? So, aim to do 10% more and then stop. When this is a habit, you will be the first person in line for all the best opportunities,” she says. 

3. Improve your self-care  

That being said, you also want to take care of yourself so you can give from a full cup. “Develop practices that help you to have both the energy, attention and mental clarity to do what needs to be done,” says Provenzano. “Self-care practices such as adequate sleep, nutritious food and regular exercise are necessary to help think clearly and respond to the demands of job and life.” 

If your self-care needs improvement, turn it into a goal. It will inform all other aspects of your life. 

4. Develop your relationship skills 

Improving your relationship skills is another powerful personal development goal. Provenzano suggests asking yourself how effectively you interact with others – and being honest about the answers. Keep in mind that self-awareness is the springboard to better relating habits. 

“We all have certain reactive tendencies that create drama in our work and personal lives. Understanding these tendencies and the underlying hidden beliefs and assumptions that cause them more deeply helps us make better choices in how we respond to challenging situations,” she says. “When we respond in a more productive manner, we can navigate difficult moments in work and personal relationships in a respectful, focused and constructive way.” 

5. Grow your network

You know what they say: Your network is your net worth. “If you want the best jobs, opportunities, or projects, you need to be connected to decision-makers. I can’t tell you how many coaching clients nailed an interview only to find out the role went to someone who was already at the company. They have the talent, but they don’t have the network,” says Soulsby. 

If setting a personal development goal around growing your network feels icky, consider that networking only feels wrong when you do it wrong, she adds. 

“Most people approach it with a ‘what’s in it for me’ mentality. Of course, that feels icky. Instead, think about how you can be helpful. Ask people what they are working on. Connect people to others in your network. And mostly, just stay in touch. A really good goal for this is to connect with one person per week in your already established network and then find one new person a month you can add to it,” she says. 

6. Keep your space tidy 

Your space can say a lot about your mental state – and vice-versa. It may seem like a simple goal, but aiming to keep your space tidy can work wonders for your mental well-being and productivity. “When your space is clean, you will have the mental space to focus on what’s important. If you take five minutes to tidy now, you won’t have to take half a day to do it later,” says Soulsby, who recommends striving to take a few minutes to make your bed, organize your desk before the next work day, or fold the laundry as soon as it’s dry instead of letting things pile up to the point of becoming overwhelming. 

7. Increase your self-awareness and emotional intelligence

“Emotions are going to happen. You should allow yourself to experience them, but not allow them to control the rest of your experiences.” states Soulsby. 

So how can we make sure that we can put ourselves in a position to be the boss of our feelings? Practicing mindfulness or meditation are great options, but might be a bit challenging for beginners. My favorite (and easy) way to gain a new perspective of how I am feeling is by journaling. Writing about experiences and reflecting on them can help identify patterns and triggers in our thoughts and emotions. 

Another way to help get perspective about our emotions is to seek feedback from colleagues, friends and family. By listening to them, we can learn about how we come across to others and where we can improve. This not only helps us to gain insights about ourselves, but allows us to understand how our actions affect others. 

If journaling and seeking feedback from peers are not an option for you, you might want to consider seeking professional help. Having an impartial person to talk to, might lead to  insightful questions that will certainly help to improve your self-awareness and emotional intelligence.

8. Explore a professional or creative skill  

Identify a skill that could help you to achieve your goals and consider taking a course on the topic. It could be improving your skills in a business-related topic such as data analysis, strategy, customer service, finance and accounting or you can explore a hobby that will also contribute to your performance at work, such as graphic design, photography, audio, music and video editing. Youtube, LinkedIn and Coursera have a vast library of courses that can help you with your search. Pro-tip: If your company uses project management like Hive, take advantage of Hive University to learn the basics and Hive Essentials through online courses, tutorials and webinars.

Tips to Achieve Your Personal Development Goals 

Now that you have a list of personal development goals to choose from, you’ll also need tools and tips to achieve them and sustain your results. Provenzano suggests seeking out feedback throughout your journey to gauge where you’re at and where you’re going: “Feedback provides insight into how others experience your leadership and will validate whether your intentions are lining up with your impact. It will point to your strengths as well as what you need to work on to be more effective.” 

According to her, you’ll also want to take the time to reflect on what’s working, what’s not, and where to invest attention to stay on track with your goals. “Whether it’s taking a walk, sitting still with an early morning coffee, or an outing on your own, give yourself time where everything can quiet down and you can hear yourself think,” she says. 

Always remember that ups and downs are normal and consistency is what matters the most. “Personal development is no different than any other goal. The results are going to take longer than you want. You’re going to slip up. And you will feel like you’ve hit a plateau when you’re doing all the right things and nothing is happening,” according to Soulsby. Her best advice? Don’t think in an all-or-nothing way. It’s okay to mess up, have bad days and be a human being. Just keep going, even imperfectly. Do one thing every day that gets you closer to your goal – that one practice can move mountains over time. 

Finally, you’ll want to track activity over outcomes when tracking progress. “If you do the right things for the right reasons, with no attachment to time, the right results will happen. Instead of focusing on the outcome, track how consistent you can be with doing the right things,” adds Soulsby. “Personal development isn’t a goal you just check off, it’s a process. When you focus on the work and not the result, you pace yourself for a longer run.”