Skip to main content
Herzing University

Herzing Staff

Tips for Creating an Effective Professional Development Plan 

Are you intimidated by the question “What’s your goal for your professional development?”

Are you intimidated by the question “What’s your goal for your professional development?” Regardless of who asks you, setting a plan for your future can be a daunting task. Before you set a goal or start planning, ensure you’re organized and develop an effective professional development plan to ensure the longevity of your career. Set yourself up for success and check out these five tips to help you create an effective professional development plan: 

1. Self-Reflect  

Before you get started setting up a plan for your professional development—begin by asking yourself questions. By doing so, you can discover what you want out of your career and proceed with a successful plan of action. Ask yourself questions like “What does my career progression look like five, ten and fifteen years down the road?” “In my field, who inspires me the most? Why?” By interviewing yourself, you’re able to gain clarity on your aspirations, motivations and the path you want to pursue.

 2. Develop SMART Goals 

Now that you’ve completed the first step of figuring out what you’re looking to achieve, you can develop SMART goals. This step, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound, can help you not only commit to specific goals but also hold yourself accountable throughout the process. By starting with a clearly defined milestone in mind, you can break it down into the following SMART goal criteria: 

  • Specific: Being specific requires you to break down your goal into bite-sized steps to ensure all bases are covered. 
  • Measurable: To ensure your goals are accomplished, they need to be measurable to track progress. For example, you can set a specific goal of reaching a KPI, or key performance indicator, to showcase your success.  
  • Attainable: Be honest with yourself. When putting together your SMART goals, make sure to consider everything else going on in your life. If you set unattainable goals, you’re more likely to not accomplish them and feel disappointed. 
  • Relevant: Does a teacher set a SMART goal of having all 20 students receive an A+? Probably not. You shouldn’t be focusing on irrelevant goals either—be mindful and select goals that fit your future career.   
  • Time-Bound: Avoid procrastination by setting timing standards for your goals. By putting a routine in place with benchmarks to reach throughout the way, you can help yourself achieve the goal day by day.

3. Follow the P.R.I.C.E Model 

One of Herzing University’s core values is the P.R.I.C.E Model for success. Standing for Professionalism, Respect, Integrity, Caring, and Engagement, this model embodies key characteristics and qualities that can help you be successful in your career. Let’s go over the P.R.I.C.E Model to make sure you’re on the right track: 

  • Professionalism: On top of dressing professionally, you should be doing your research on a project, showing up on time and being a team player.  
  • Respect: Be a good coworker, help out when possible and empower those around you. 
  • Integrity: Good work here and there won’t get the job done. Be consistent in your work and make sure you’re trusted.  
  • Caring: You never know what is going on in someone’s life, so be sure to always be caring and understanding. 
  • Engagement: Enthusiasm and passion go a long way. By communicating and engaging with those around you, you can foster a positive environment.

4. Speak with a Mentor  

Once you have your goals set, take the time to find a mentor in your field and reach out for guidance. A mentor who has already achieved the goals you have set for your professional development plan can help you talk through your ideas and guide your progression. Building this relationship can also prepare you for unexpected situations by showing you how to navigate your own professional development. 

5. Plan and Proceed 

So, you’ve questioned yourself, set SMART goals, reflected on the P.R.I.C.E Model, and spoken with a mentor. What’s next? Put your plan in place and get started! When setting up a professional development plan, one of the most important tips is to just do it. It might seem scary to set the goal and envision your future but taking that leap can help you progress more smoothly—and faster than you could ever imagine.  

Whether you want to start your own business, be promoted, or even earn another degree, setting up a specialized professional development plan unique to your own needs will set you up for greatness. If you hit a hurdle, don’t let it get you down—pivot and keep going for it. You’ve got this! 

If you have any questions, or if Herzing University can help you accomplish your professional goals, check out the programs and resources that we offer here.

Learn More About Our Career Programs


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Request Information
Ready to get started?

Contact us to request more information

Opt-In to Receive SMS Messages

By selecting this button you agree to receive updates and alerts from Herzing University. Text HELP to 85109 for help, Text STOP to 85109 to end. Msg & Data Rates May Apply. By opting in, I authorize Herzing University to deliver SMS messages and I understand that I am not required to opt in as a condition of enrollment. By leaving this box unchecked you will not be opted in for SMS messages. Click to read Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
Subscribe to Our Blog Newsletter

Get the latest news you need to know, from study hacks to interview tips to career advancement. Have it delivered right to your inbox biweekly.