How should you approach personal and professional development in 2018?

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No time like the present

We have many phrases that embody negative, repetitive tasks — “rat race” and “vicious cycle,” just to name two. It can sometimes feels as though New Year’s resolutions fall into the same bracket, especially when you’ve “fallen off the wagon,” so to speak, as personal and professional development have fallen by the wayside.

To make your resolutions stick, you’ll need to implement a change in your current mindset.

By thinking differently about how to achieve your goals, you’ll give yourself the greatest opportunity to achieve personal and professional development over the next 12 months.

In this post, we’ll look at the old methods of setting goals and why they might not work for you. We’ll then break down three ways you can change things up and put your best foot forward in January and beyond. Let’s get started!

Why New Year’s resolutions usually fail

While goal setting is a subject practically everybody discusses in December, a surprising number of people fail to deliver on their objectives. In fact, only 20 percent of people stay the course.

The standard method used by the remaining 80 percent is making broad and unrealistic declarations at the start of the year. By February, they are overstretched, leading to burnout.

There’s another important contributor to this lack of achievement. While many people mean well, they often never make a solid plan for achieving their goals. If you consider yourself to be one of these people, you’ll likely need to consider a new approach when it comes to personal and professional development.

3 ways to approach personal and professional development in 2018

To tackle 2018 with confidence, you will need to be armed with a new, proactive, and goal-oriented mindset. Here are three proven ways to help you shed the old habits and smash your objectives for personal and professional development.

  1. Evaluate your career based on more than money.

  2. Assess your sense of fulfillment.

  3. Develop a new attitude about goal setting.

Let’s dive in!

1. Evaluate your career based on more than money

A common resolution for many is to switch careers, usually to something more lucrative. For example, you might plan to diversify in order to become full-stack developer and ultimately increase your salary. However, the lure of more money can trap you in a well-paying (yet ultimately unfulfilling) job.

If you are driven by a passion for your job and a sense of pride in what you produce, earning money and progressing in your career will be far easier.

Your overall happiness and sense of fulfilment will be far higher than if you are motivated purely by income and hate what you do. To find a job that you’re truly passionate about, you’ll need a plan. In fact, we recommend a framework — WOOP.

WOOP is a four-part checklist to help you evaluate your career. Here’s a breakdown of what the acronym means:

  • Wish: Define your overall goal or intention (i.e. a new job or career).
  • Objective: Visualize your new situation.
  • Obstacle: Consider what blocks you from achieving your wish.
  • Plan: Formulate a game plan to get what you want.

If you’re happy in your current role, you might also want to consider sprucing up your work-based processes. With this in mind, there is plenty you can do for personal and professional development from your desk, such as revamping your social media profiles or increasing your expertise.

2. Assess your sense of fulfillment with life, work, and everything in between

We previously alluded to finding a sense of fulfillment. History is filled with examples of those who consider their lot in life based on people in similar positions, or some other kind of “expectations-by-proxy.” For an extreme example, civil rights has largely been based on perceived expectations.

However, perceived expectations are subjective.


Your path, therefore, is to consider your life as you would your career. This means creating a clear plan for where you’d like to be, then executing it.

For this, you’ll want to look at rewriting your “self story.” This is the narrative identity you ascribe to your life. For a real-world example, take a look at a well-written Twitter bio:

Personal and Professional Development Twitter

Whether you know it or not, you already have a self story, with accompanying habits that may be hindering personal and professional development in any number of areas. To make a positive change, seek out those areas, find the story you’ve ascribed to them, then change things up.

In order to work out what personal narrative you wish to adhere to, start by reading about the self stories of others and what they mean.

3. Develop a new attitude about goal setting

At this point you’ll be ready to develop your new attitude towards goal setting. As we discussed at the start, the general approach for many is to simply offer a grand declaration and get on with it. However, as you might suspect, there’s a much better approach.

There are some vital factors to consider when thinking about personal and professional development:

  • Set short-term goals, to prevent overwhelming yourself.
  • Make sure your goals are basic (e.g. developing a new website) and expandable (e.g. adding new functionality) when necessary.
  • Be accountable to others, as this will keep you honest and offer a support network when things get rough.

On that last point, don’t discount the value of others — even if they’re not directly related to your profession or the goals you set. Your friends and colleagues can help you achieve goals in the long-term – whether that’s through offering good vibes, actual help, or anything else you need on your journey.


Personal and professional development shouldn’t be a chore, and running yourself into the ground once a year in an attempt to achieve unrealistic goals is obviously counterproductive. This means you’ll need to find a new way to get what you want out of life, work, and everything else.

In this post, we’ve looked at some of the common mistakes people make when setting their New Year’s resolutions, and provided three new methods for personal and professional development. Let’s recap them quickly:

  1. Think about every aspect of your career and what it offers you, rather just the zeros on your paycheck.
  2. Identify the positive changes you can make in your life and recreate your “self story.”
  3. Change the way you set goals and stop overwhelming yourself.

Ready to get started?

Image by: Kevin on Unsplash