Professional Development Goals: How to Set Them & Reach Them

Professional Development Goals: How to Set Them & Reach Them
The Editorial Team July 29, 2019

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Now that you’re a superstar goal-setter with a whole toolbox of actionable tricks for actually reaching said goals, it’s time for another challenge. This week, take a look at everything you’ve learned on the goal front and apply it your career. I know. We’ve been hyper-focused on personal development for the past eight weeks and it was fantabulous — and necessary — but this is the last week of the Educator Rejuvenation Challenge and it’s time to bring a little professional development into the mix. 

So let’s unpack that toolbox. 

First? Brainstorm — no holds barred. 

What kind of growth would you like to see in your career? Where do you want to be in five years? What inspires you about being an educator? How can you spend more time doing that specific thing that really ignites your passion? How can you be better for your students? Get the juices flowing and just keep writing. It’s amazing what comes to the surface when you stop fighting yourself by overthinking. Sometimes when you get into this unrestricted flow, this flourish, you’re able to unlock really important goals that you never even allowed yourself to admit before.

When you feel like you’re all brainstormed out, walk away. Take some time. Give it some space. 

Choose your top three

Go through your list. You may find that you have some total pie-in-the-sky ideas on there. Do they have legs? Keep them. If they don’t, move them aside. We don’t want loose dreams. We want big, long-term goals. Keep that in mind as you go through your list. 

Now narrow down your goals to the three that are most important to you. But keep your brainstorm sheet for future reference and future goal-setting. (Plus it never hurts to be reminded of what was important to you at different times in your life.) Okay, so once you’ve got your top three, rank them gold, silver, and bronze according to how much you want them. 


  • Bring leading-edge technology into the classroom to help students (bronze)
  • Work into a leadership role in the school (gold)
  • Master the art of classroom management (silver)

Go for the gold

Your top goal is the one we’re going to focus on right now. When something means the most to you, you’re most likely to achieve it. Intrinsic motivation is real and you want as much inspiration to come from within as possible. Now that you have your goal, attach some whys to it to make it even stickier (ie, doable). Make another list. And make your reasons deep, meaningful, authentic, and concrete. The more you can drum up a strong feeling for these whys, the more likely you are to push through the tough times in pursuit of the goal. 

Example: Work into a leadership role in the school. 

  • Make more money to support my family
  • Have a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment
  • Make a bigger impact on kids who need it most
  • Help inspire other educators

Chart your course, micro goals first

Remember that handy-dandy circle map we drew to nail down our personal intermediate goals? Great. Because we’re doing it again — but this time you’re going to put your golden professional goal in the circle at the top. From there it’s easiest to dive into your micro goals at the bottom. Remember — these are small bite-sized, tangible, clear, and manageable things that you WILL accomplish. 

Example: Work into a leadership role in the school.

  • Research the leadership role I’m interested in — find out if it’s actually a great fit or if there’s something else that would make more sense for me
  • Shadow someone in a similar role to what I want to be doing
  • Research master’s degree program options and make a list of top 5 best options
  • Find out what I need to do to apply to an MEd program and gather all materials 

Define the  intermediates 

These are those bigger and bolder goals that fall in between the micros and your long-term. They shouldn’t be easy, but they should be completely doable. These are massive action goals on your way to the top.

Example: Work into a leadership role in the school.

  • Enroll in an MEd program
  • Complete the prerequisites for my MEd program

Turn your map into a manifesto 

It’s one thing to chart your course. It’s another to make the journey. Hold on to your map. Write your whys on it. Keep the plan close but keep your meaning closer. Why you want to reach this goal is your fuel. It will push you forward. It will keep you moving. Make this a part of your story. You want this for some very powerful reasons — and you will achieve it because you are strong, you are certain, and you are awesome. 

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