Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Setting Goals for ProfessionalĀ Development

Setting professional development goals is easy. Try using a chart format:

Identify two high-priority
skills you need to acquire:
List available
learning resources: 

Select the semester you
will learn about the skill:

How will you assess your 
competency with this skill?

Goal accomplished?
Check this box!

Skill 1
Skill 2

Alternatively, you can write goals with objectives in sentence form. In fact, the ability to write concise, goals with measurable objectives will be useful throughout your career!

Goals are broad statements of what you wish to achieve, or your desired, intended outcomes.

Objectives can be thought of as the steps that you will need to take in order to achieve your goal(s). 

Examples:

Goal: To significantly improve my verbal communication skills.

Objective: To improve my presentation skills with lay audiences, I will complete a storytelling seminar and enter the Mizzou 3MT Competition this fall, with a goal of satisfactory marks on the three judges' score sheets. 

To test the utility our objective, let's apply the mnemonic S.M.A.R.T., which was developed by George Doran.1 

According to Doran, a S.M.A.R.T objective is one that is... 

  • Specific 
  • Measurable 
  • Assignable 
  • Realistic 
  • Time-related 

Objective: To improve my presentation skills with lay audiences [realistic], I [assignable] will complete a storytelling seminar [specific] and enter the Mizzou 3MT Competition [specific] this fall [time-related], with a goal of satisfactory marks [measurable]on all three judges' score sheets [measurable]. 

While dated, the S.M.A.R.T. method remain a helpful tool for learning how to write goals and objectives. 

1.Doran, G. T. (1981). "There's a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management's goals and objectives". Management Review (AMA FORUM) 70 (11): 35–36.