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Own your personal development: self-improvement goals that motivate

June 28, 2022 - 17 min read


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What are personal goals?

5 areas for self-improvement

16 examples of personal goals

6 examples of personal development goals for work

6 tips for setting personal development goals at work

6 benefits of setting goals for self-improvement

Putting it all together

When you’re setting goals for self-improvement, you may wonder where you need to improve — and how you’ll know when you’re on the right path. Plus, you’ll want to ensure your efforts toward self-improvement don’t cause you to stray from your personal values or your personality. 

One strategy for successfully setting self-improvement goals is to reframe them as personal growth. Both your personal and professional lives can benefit from embracing it. 

To grow and develop, you’ll need to set achievable goals that help you develop new skills. This may force you out of your comfort zone a bit. Achieving your personal goals takes effort, good habits, and focus. Here’s how to get started.


What are personal goals?

A goal is where you’re directing your efforts. For instance, your goal may be to hit a particular career milestone, or hit a personal best when it comes to your morning run time. Personal goals can take place in any area of your life.  

And, as the name implies, a personal goal is one that’s all about you. You aren’t competing against anyone else except yourself. 

Setting personal goals requires a combination of short- and long-term goals.

Let’s say you want to start waking up at 5 a.m., but you don’t consider yourself a morning person. Going from waking up 10 minutes before your first meeting to having a three-hour morning routine isn’t realistic. But waking up half an hour earlier each month gives you a realistic, short-term goal that will compound into your longer-term objective.

Studies show goal attainability is more positively linked to well-being than goal importance. Being reasonable about what you can accomplish is a more effective way to stay motivated.

You’re also more likely to achieve a goal if you’re more mindful. Some research suggests that mindful people set better, more attainable goals.

Working to strengthen your mental fitness will sustain you throughout the rest of your life. And sustainable goals require you to dig deep and do Inner Work. Inner Work requires developing more self-awareness. Knowing who you really are is the best way to work to improve yourself. 

Pause for a moment to and be appreciative of your current abilities. You aren’t trying to fix yourself, but help yourself grow as you experience the different stages in your life.

Your personal goals could be completely different from the person beside you. At BetterUp, our coaches are here to provide guidance for whatever goal you have in mind. And if you aren’t sure what areas of your life you want to focus on improving, don’t worry. We can help you.

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5 areas for self-improvement

Self-improvement is all about developing or improving your skills through your own actions. It’s okay to ask for help, but you’re the one who’s taking the initiative to develop.

You’re learning how to set goals and achieve them because you want to, not because someone is forcing you. Self-improvement doesn’t happen with a fixed mindset, either. You have to believe and admire what growth can bring you.

Every aspect of your life has the potential for self-improvement. Here are a few to review:

  1. Your emotional well-being and how you care for your mental health, including your resilience and self-compassion 
  2. Your physical well-being and overall fitness
  3. Your personal characteristics (think: self-confidence and self-esteem)
  4. Your social health — that is, how you behave in relationships with friends, family members, co-workers, and romantic partners
  5. Your professional and personal achievements, such as getting a promotion or improving your financial wellness

But this isn’t to say that every aspect of yourself can improve or develop. Some aspects of your identity are fixed. You can’t change who you’re attracted to or what you like. Stay away from efforts to force an entirely different identity on yourself. Instead, embrace who you are.

16 examples of personal goals

After reading all this, you may be wondering, “What are some personal goals I can set?” Your personal goals could relate to your professional life, or they could be something specifically for your life outside of work. What could be a goal to you could be something that doesn’t resonate with others. 

To help you start thinking about what goals you want to set, here are 16 examples of personal development goals:

  1. Make better use of your time management skills and manage yourself better
  2. Stop procrastinating 
  3. Put limits on your social media usage
  4. Incorporate more self-care practices into your routine
  5. Become better at public speaking
  6. Learn how to take care of your physical health better
  7. Let go of the past and live more in the present
  8. Have a better work-life balance
  9. Build up your self-confidence
  10. Develop more assertive body language and communication skills
  11. Practice active listening when you’re at work or at home
  12. Wake up earlier in the mornings
  13. Improve your emotional intelligence for yourself and your relationships
  14. Strengthen your leadership skills
  15. Network more within your industry
  16. Better decision-making from increased self-awareness


6 examples of personal development goals for work

Setting goals specifically for work can benefit the rest of your career. You might not think much of them now, but down the road, you’ll appreciate the time you spent on your working skills. Developing your career and growing as your professional demands that you grow as a person.

If you aren’t sure how your professional goals align with your self-development, ask yourself what skills you need to get there. For instance, are you looking to become a manager and lead the team you’re on now? That will demand strong leadership skills. Good leadership goals differ for each industry, but focusing on yourself is the shared first step. 

Here are some examples of personal development goals for work:

1. Be open to learning new things

At no point in your career will you know everything. There are always opportunities to learn, and having an open-minded approach to this will help you grow.

2. Network and meet people in your industry

Networking is easy to do remotely. You can set up video calls with people or connect with them via social media. However, you feel comfortable approaching fostering these connections, start chatting people up for advice and learn more about what they do.


3. Learn to be more resilient

Your job can test you, but developing resiliency will help you overcome any challenges. This will also enable you to be a better leader in your work environment.

4. Find your niche

Your skillsets could allow you to explore countless opportunities, but where do you start? Deciding what you value and admire the most in your industry will help you focus your other goal planning so it’s more specific.

5. Become a better communicator

Any employee must know how to communicate with their team members and managers. If you’ve done in-person work for your entire career but your office is entirely remote, you’re facing a new challenge. You must strengthen your communication skills and learn new ways to collaborate.


6. Work better together

Working harmoniously with your team members allows for greater productivity and a more creative flow. If you learn how to be a team player, you’ll help your entire team succeed.

6 tips for setting personal development goals at work

Staying organized and having a clear focus will help you immensely as you work on your self-improvement goals. Rather than be confused about your progress, or if you’re on the right track, clear goals and a personal development plan will help you.

Journal about your victories and defeats to see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned.

For our professional success, we have to be specific. Here are six tips to help you set personal development goals at work:

  1. Begin by visualizing what you hope to achieve and how that makes you feel
  2. Establish a clear plan of action
  3. Set SMART goals that you know you can achieve
  4. Take note of your progress and evaluate yourself as you work
  5. Make sure your timeline for your goals is realistic 
  6. Accept failures when they happen and don’t dwell on them


6 benefits of setting goals for self-improvement

Why set goals for yourself? The benefits of setting goals can shape and impact the rest of your life moving forward. Whether it’s to travel the world and experience new things or get promoted at work, the skills you learn will benefit the rest of your life.

Here are some of the advantages of  setting self-improvement goals:

  1. You’ll feel more self-motivated
  2. You’ll have an easier time following your purpose
  3. You’ll build an important mindset to be your best self
  4. You’ll feel excited to put in hard work daily
  5. You’ll increase your self-awareness 
  6. You’ll experience a stronger  work ethic

But it isn’t always clear skies along the journey of your goals. Suzanne Eder, a writer, mentor, and inspirational speaker, likes to acknowledge that there can be a dark side to self-improvement

In some cases, you may find that your goals were influenced by external factors, such as toxic people in your life or social media. Avoid self-improvement efforts gone awry by staying true to your values when you set goals, not someone else’s.

Putting it all together

When you set goals for self-improvement, remember to keep your whole self in mind. Accept who you are and embrace self-growth but don’t treat it as an overhaul of yourself. Don’t punish yourself for the things you don’t like about yourself. 

Your goals shouldn’t make you feel bad about yourself, but rather motivate you to grow as a person. Celebrate your efforts and accomplishments equally. Even when it feels hard, remember: you’re trying. 

Personal growth goals should inspire you and push you outside of your comfort zone. They should benefit you for today, tomorrow, next week, and years from now. You won’t achieve your goals overnight, but never forget that your sustained effort won’t be for nothing. 

You could benefit from someone holding you accountable as you work toward your goals. At BetterUp, our coaches can provide the accountability you need to reach your personal growth goals and feel proud of yourself.

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Published June 28, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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