Personal Goals & Career Development


According to the humanist psychologist Abraham Maslow, we each have a hierarchy of needs ranging from basic physiological needs, such as food, to spiritual or creative needs, which Maslow dubs "self actualization." Primary physiological needs are the most urgent, but higher needs spur us each to realize our full potential. A successful career helps us to integrate our advanced personal goals, or the urge toward self actualization, with our primary goals of providing for our basic physiological needs by earning a living.

John Holland's Career Typology

  • According to psychologist John Holland, career choices are based on personality types. Holland identifies six fundamental personality categories: conventional, enterprising, social, artistic, investigative and realistic. We search for careers that fit our personality types, and people whose occupations fit their personality types are most content with their work lives. For these people, career development is a natural extension of personal goals.

Social Cognitive Career Theory

  • According to Lent, Brown and Hackettt's Social Cognitive Career Theory, we develop personal goals and follow career paths by means of a dynamic process that involves learning skills and identifying our own proclivities, and also discovering our own aptitudes. We receive positive reinforcement for skills and activities that come naturally to us and this process enables us to develop complementary personal and career goals.

Holistic Integration of Personal Goals and Career Development

  • According to the Career and Personal Development Institute, an individual's career will be most successful and satisfying if it meshes gracefully with his personal goals. Integrating these two sets of priorities is not simply a matter of finding the right job, but also evolving personally and professionally with that job.

Practical Skills

  • Although it is important to understand your personal goals and their relationship to the process of building your career, you must also develop practical skills to find a fitting career. Résumé writing and interview skills may be antithetical to your personal and professional predilections, especially if you are creatively inclined, but they will almost certainly be essential to the process of matching your personal and career goals.

Career Development Planning

  • Writing a career development plan is a process that can help you to define your personal and professional goals, and understand their relationship to each other. A career development plan includes educational goals as well as personal and professional benchmarks. Even if you do not write a formal career development plan, it is useful to have an idea of how you will achieve these important steps.

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