38 Development Goals Examples

development goals examples and definition, detailed below.

Development goals refer to goals that are focused on improving personal knowledge and skills.

The key feature of development goals is that they are not concerned with an externalized objective like a certificate or financial outcome. Rather, the focus “is on the discovery of effective strategies or processes to attain desired results.”

In other words, whereas performance goals are focused on external outcomes, development goals are focused on internal abilities.

  • Performance goals (also known as outcome goals): success or failure is measured by whether you reach a clearly-defined external objective.
  • Development goals (also known as learning goals): success is defined as a measure of progression in internal skills and abilities.

Development goals are regularly used in self-development, whereas performance goals are regularly used as key performance indicators in a business environment.

Development Goals Examples

1. Personal Development Goals

  • Time Management: Improve time management skills by prioritizing tasks effectively and reducing time spent on non-essential activities.
  • Productivity: Increase productivity by setting daily, weekly, and monthly goals and utilizing productivity techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique.
  • Emotional Intelligence: Enhance emotional intelligence by practicing empathy, self-awareness, and effective communication in personal and professional interactions.
  • Mindfulness: Incorporate mindfulness practices, such as meditation or deep breathing exercises, into daily routines to reduce stress and improve mental well-being.
  • Creativity: Boost creativity by setting aside time for brainstorming, engaging in creative hobbies, and exposing oneself to new experiences and ideas.
  • Stress Management: Enhance stress management techniques by identifying stress triggers, developing coping strategies, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.
  • Adaptability: Cultivate adaptability by embracing change, staying curious, and developing problem-solving skills.
  • Critical Thinking: Improve critical thinking skills by questioning assumptions, evaluating evidence, and considering alternative perspectives.
  • Decision-Making: Refine decision-making abilities by weighing pros and cons, analyzing potential outcomes, and trusting one’s intuition.

2. Professional Development Goals

  • Leadership: Develop leadership qualities by taking initiative, motivating team members, and practicing effective decision-making.
  • Teamwork: Improve teamwork skills by collaborating effectively, sharing ideas, and supporting colleagues in achieving common goals.
  • Work-Life Balance: Achieve a healthy work-life balance by setting boundaries, scheduling personal time, and prioritizing self-care activities.
  • Delegation: Develop effective delegation skills by clearly communicating expectations, setting deadlines, and monitoring progress while empowering team members.
  • Conflict Resolution: Strengthen conflict resolution skills by remaining calm, listening actively, and seeking win-win solutions in difficult situations.
  • Active Listening: Develop active listening skills by giving full attention to others, avoiding interruptions, and asking follow-up questions to clarify understanding.
  • Speaking up in Meetings: Improve my confidence speaking up in meetings by asking for meeting notes before hand and brainstorming ways to contribute before walking into the meetings.

Go Deeper: Professional Development Goals Examples

3. Development Goals for Students

  • Study Habits: Improve study habits by creating a consistent study schedule and using effective learning techniques, such as active recall and spaced repetition.
  • Note-Taking: Enhance note-taking skills by experimenting with different methods (e.g., Cornell, mind mapping) and using digital tools for organization and easy retrieval.
  • Study Time Management: Develop time management skills by breaking assignments into smaller tasks, setting deadlines, and using tools like planners or calendars.
  • Group Work: Improve collaboration and teamwork abilities by actively participating in group projects, contributing ideas, and listening to others’ perspectives.
  • Academic Writing: Enhance academic writing skills by attending writing workshops, seeking feedback from peers or tutors, and familiarizing oneself with citation styles.
  • Networking: Develop networking skills by attending campus events, joining clubs or organizations, and connecting with professors, alumni, and industry professionals.
  • Critical Thinking: Improve critical thinking abilities by questioning assumptions, analyzing information from multiple sources, and evaluating arguments logically.

4. Development Goals for Teachers

  • Classroom Management: Improve classroom management skills by implementing consistent rules and consequences, establishing routines, and fostering a positive learning environment.
  • Differentiated Instruction: Enhance the ability to provide differentiated instruction by assessing individual student needs and implementing diverse teaching strategies to meet those needs.
  • Cultural Competence: Develop cultural competence by becoming aware of one’s own biases, learning about different cultures, and incorporating inclusive practices in the classroom.
  • Parent-Teacher Communication: Strengthen parent-teacher communication by providing regular updates on student progress, addressing concerns proactively, and building rapport with parents.
  • Student Engagement: Increase student engagement by incorporating interactive activities, using technology effectively, and connecting lessons to real-world examples.
  • Reflective Practice: Cultivate reflective practice by regularly evaluating teaching methods, seeking feedback from peers and students, and implementing changes to improve instruction.
  • Collaboration with Colleagues: Improve collaboration with colleagues by sharing resources, participating in professional learning communities, and offering support to fellow teachers.
  • Growth Mindset: Foster a growth mindset in oneself and students by embracing challenges, learning from failures, and encouraging persistence and effort.

See More: Educational Goals Examples

5. Development Goals for Nursing

  • Patient Communication: Improve patient communication skills by actively listening, expressing empathy, and providing clear and concise information about care plans and procedures.
  • Interprofessional Collaboration: Enhance collaboration with other healthcare professionals by actively participating in team meetings, sharing knowledge, and working together to achieve common goals.
  • Clinical Competence: Develop clinical competence by staying up-to-date with the latest evidence-based practices, guidelines, and procedures in the nursing field.
  • Cultural Competence: Cultivate cultural competence by understanding and respecting patients’ diverse backgrounds, beliefs, and values, and providing culturally sensitive care.
  • Patient Advocacy: Improve patient advocacy abilities by educating patients about their rights, supporting informed decision-making, and addressing ethical concerns as they arise.
  • Resilience: Build resilience by managing stress effectively, practicing self-care, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance in a demanding healthcare environment.

Development Goals vs Performance Goals

Performance goals measure performance in the form of an outcome. Development goals measure personal progress and development.

One of the clearest definitions I have found comparing these two types of goals comes from (Kaufman, 2016, p. 118):

“[Development] goals are associated with intrinsic motivation. If your goal from a task is to learn how to do something, then you are more likely to be doing it out of enjoyment or for the meaning of the activity. Performance goals are associated with extrinsic motivation. If your goal is to get a perfect final product, you are more likely to be doing this task for a reward or external value.”

Examples of performance goals might include the following. Note how they are focused on externalize outputs:

  • Financial Goals: Save a specific amount of money, such as $10,000, within the next 12 months by cutting expenses and implementing a savings plan.
  • Scholarship: Secure a merit-based scholarship for the upcoming academic year by maintaining a GPA of 3.5 or higher and participating in extracurricular activities.
  • Career Advancement: Become a director in the company within 3 years.

Table Summary: Performance Goals vs Development Goals

Performance GoalsDevelopment Goals
DefinitionPerformance goals measure performance in the form of an outcome.Development goals measure personal progress and development.
Other namesOutcome goals, key performance indicators, behavioral goalsLearning goals, proess goals
Type of motivationExtrinsic motivation. Requires rewards.Intrinsic motivation. Requires inner drive.
FocusImproving outputs and profits.Progress and self-development.
ExampleTo make $100,000 by the end of the year.To be able to improve and utilize new productivity skills


Performance goals are popular in an era when we obsess over outcomes and measurability. They can be motivating an the simple act of writing them down can help us focus our efforts.

But many people, especially those who advocate motivational interviewing, argue that development goals are more effective: these are goals that focus on processes and self-improvement, with the idea that focusing on the steps you can take for self-improvement will help you achieve bigger outcomes in the long run.

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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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