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How to Write a Personal & Professional Goal Statement

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When it comes to writing a narrative for personal and professional goal-setting, you might find it hard to differentiate between the two, because the two sides of your life are often so interwoven. After all, happiness in your professional life can mean more overall life satisfaction, and vice versa. With that in mind, write your goal statement as an overall summary of your personal as well as professional goals.

Delve into the Personal

If you're applying for a coveted position in a university program or for a new job, chances are there are going to be a host of qualified applicants, all of whom will be writing goal statements, also called "personal statements." To make yours stand out, aim to create a "hook" at the beginning of your statement, which delves into the personal backstory behind your goals. Tell a story about a person who inspired you or a moment that led you to pursue a certain path, for example. In short, tell the reader something that will make her remember you. In this way, you'll be able to weave your professional goals into your personal achievement, and make the two appear as intertwined as they really are.

Define the Goal

Next, get down to the nitty-gritty and define the actual goals. Here, you'll focus less on crafting the right image and more on laying out the facts. For example, start simply with "My goal is," and then name the goal and any organizations, job titles or professional designations that go with it. If you're using this goal statement to apply to a specific program or for a job with defined protocols for success, you'll naturally want to factor those items into your definition. Review any program or employment materials to help you get a feel for what the program directors or employers might be looking for. Unless otherwise directed, come up with a short-term as well as a long-term goal.

SMART Goal Setting

Employers and organizations routinely apply the "SMART" acronym for goal-setting. SMART is short for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. Make the goal something very specific, and state it specifically in your "define the goal" statement. Make it measurable, as in, you'll know when you've achieved it. Also make it attainable, as in something that you can actually achieve. The goal should also be realistic in the amount of time and skill it will require. It should also name a specific date by which it will be achieved -- or better yet, will set several milestones that track your progress. If you're not given any parameters for your goal statement, following the SMART protocol can help you write a cohesive statement that covers all the bases.

Sum It All Up

Like any well-written tale, your personal goal statement should tie the end to the beginning. Your summary should bring together succinctly all the elements you've already mentioned. Then briefly re-state your goal. Keep this section brief and to the point; in total, a personal or professional statement should be no longer than two pages. When you're done writing, read and reread the entire statement at least a few times, and have someone else look it over as well.


Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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