Career Fortitude



Forming obtainable goals to advance your career that feed into your development action plan is critical for your career path.  They create a vision of how a goal fits into your overall strategy of professional growth and career advancement.

You can download my detailed development action plan PDF.  This is a roadmap that provides the structure you’ll need when forming obtainable goals to advance your career.  Crafting an effective development action plan holds you accountable for executing the plan and then reflecting on progress and learning throughout.

I created this template based on my own experiences with my development and what I’ve learned from coaching others working through their development action plans to advance their careers.


Development goals should be tailored to your individual needs and your organization’s objectives.  Here are some different types of professional goals you’ll want to consider as you begin forming goals for your development:


Skill-Based Goals

These goals focus on acquiring or improving specific skills, such as leadership strategies or technical skills.  For example, a leader may set a goal to enhance their data analysis skills to better identify performance trends and track the impacts of process improvement strategies.

By understanding what key metrics and data sets are needed to lead their team and identifying what knowledge gaps they currently have, the leader can create a plan to close those gaps through a skill-based goal.  The goal should include details on what specific training and learning is needed to grow the skill and how to introduce the new skill into their work to drive results.


Behavioral Goals

Behavioral goals target the development of particular behaviors or traits, such as fostering a culture of collaboration, promoting diversity and inclusion, or demonstrating resilience in the face of challenges.  A leader might set goals to exhibit more empathy in their interactions with team members or to provide more constructive feedback.

In this example, setting goals could include using feedback strategies such as 360-degree feedback, stay interviews, and developmental check-ins with a team.  Working on activities that promote emotional intelligence can also greatly support behavioral goals and improve your leadership skillset.


Career Advancement Goals

These goals are centered around advancing within your career path or assuming greater responsibilities.  This could involve setting goals to earn a promotion, lead a larger team, or take on more complex projects.

Leaders may focus on expanding their influence within the organization or industry.  A career advancement goal could be as small as becoming a subject matter expert in the field you are already working in to open up the door for advancement within the next year.  A larger goal like achieving multiple promotions within the next several years to obtain a C-level position is a more long-term goal that might fit better in a 5 or 10-year plan.


Personal Growth Goals

Personal growth goals aim to enhance self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and overall personal development.  Leaders may set goals to improve their self-management skills, cultivate a growth mindset, or enhance their ability to handle stress and adversity effectively.

A leader who finds themselves struggling with higher-scope tasks across multiple teams or the entire organization may need to use personal growth goals to improve their growth mindset to expand their business competencies.


Team Development Goals

Leaders often set goals related to building and developing their teams.  This may include fostering a culture of trust and accountability, providing opportunities for team members’ professional growth and development, or improving team cohesion and collaboration.  Leaders may also set goals to enhance their coaching and mentoring skills to better support their team’s success.


Organizational Impact Goals

These goals focus on driving positive outcomes for the organization, such as increasing productivity, improving employee engagement and satisfaction, fostering innovation, or achieving specific business objectives.

Leaders may set goals to implement initiatives that contribute to organizational growth, sustainability, or competitive advantage.  These types of goals should align with the organization’s goals, so if there are already specific organization goals established leaders can use them as the starting point when creating their own goals.


Effective Goal-Setting

Forming obtainable goals to advance your career is crucial because it provides a roadmap for growth, guides decision-making, and fosters accountability.  By following the guidelines that I’m about to share, you can form effective goals for your development that will help propel you toward career advancement.


  • Reflect on Your Current State and what you want to achieve.

Before setting goals, take stock of your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement you need to focus on.  Reflect on past experiences, feedback from peers and superiors, and any assessments or evaluations you’ve undergone.


  • Be Specific and Measurable.

Effective goals are clear, specific, and measurable. Instead of setting vague goals like “improve leadership skills,” define concrete objectives such as “enhance communication skills by delivering at least two presentations per month” or “increase team productivity by 15% within six months.”


  • Set Challenging but Attainable Goals.

Goals should stretch your abilities and push you out of your comfort zone, but they should also be achievable with the right commitment.  Avoid setting goals that are too easy or too ambitious, as they may lead to complacency or frustration.  Strike a balance by setting challenging yet realistic goals that motivate you to strive for excellence.


  • Align with Your Values and Objectives.

Ensure that your goals align with your values, long-term aspirations, and organizational objectives.  Ask yourself how achieving these goals will contribute to your personal and professional growth as well as the success of your team or organization.  Aligning your goals with your broader purpose and vision enhances motivation and commitment.


  • Break Down Goals into Actionable Steps.

Break down larger goals into smaller, manageable tasks or milestones.  This makes the goals less daunting and allows you to track progress more effectively.  Create a timeline with deadlines for each milestone to stay on track and maintain momentum toward achieving your larger objectives.


  • Seek Feedback and Support.

Share your goals with mentors, coaches, or trusted colleagues who can provide feedback, guidance, and support.  Soliciting input from others can offer valuable perspectives and help you refine your goals for maximum impact.  Additionally, having a support system in place can keep you accountable and motivated throughout your development journey.


  • Regularly Review and Adjust Goals.

Goals are not set in stone; they should be reviewed and adjusted as needed based on changing circumstances, feedback, and new insights.  Schedule regular check-ins with yourself and a mentor to assess progress, celebrate achievements, and identify any obstacles or setbacks that may require course correction.


  • Celebrate Achievements and Learn from Challenges.

Celebrate each milestone and achievement along the way to maintain morale and motivation.  Take time to acknowledge your progress and recognize the effort you’ve invested in your development.  Similarly, view challenges and setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth.


Remember that leadership development is a continuous journey, and forming obtainable goals to advance your career is the first step toward realizing your full potential.

Creating SMART goals is essential for forming clear and focused goals.  If you’re not familiar with SMART goals, SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.


In my free development action plan PDF that you can download, I have included guidance on creating SMART goals that support your main career objective.

  1. Specific:

Define your goals with clarity and precision.  Instead of setting a vague goal like “Improve leadership skills,” be specific about what skills you want to develop, such as “Enhance communication skills to increase trust and collaboration among the team.”

  1. Measurable:

Establish concrete criteria to measure progress and success. Quantify your goals whenever possible.  For instance, if your goal is to increase employee engagement, specify a measurable outcome like “Increase employee engagement survey scores by 15% within six months.”

  1. Achievable:

Set goals that are realistic and attainable given your current resources, capabilities, and constraints.  Consider your workload, available time, and potential challenges. It’s essential to stretch yourself, but goals must be realistic.  For example, if you’re aiming for a leadership position, set milestones such as completing relevant training programs or gaining specific experience necessary to position you as a top candidate for that role.

  1. Relevant:

Ensure that your goals align with your overall objectives, values, and long-term career aspirations.  Goals should contribute meaningfully to your personal and professional growth and support your organization’s mission and vision.  Avoid pursuing goals just for the sake of it; they should be relevant to your role and responsibilities.

  1. Time-bound:

Set clear deadlines or timeframes to create a sense of urgency and focus.  Establishing deadlines helps prevent procrastination and keeps you on track toward achieving your goals.  For instance, instead of saying “Improve leadership skills,” specify a timeline like “Work with a leadership coach to develop and execute a development action plan within three months.”


By understanding the types of professional goals, and how to create effective goals through using SMART goals, you can effectively plan, execute, and evaluate their development initiatives.   Using these strategies for forming obtainable goals to advance your career creates a roadmap for continuous improvement, enabling you to enhance your skills, drive meaningful outcomes, and excel in your career.


Make sure to download my free development action plan PDF.


Until next time always keep learning and always keep growing.


Philip Hilt – Leadership & Career Coach





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