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Personal learning objectives: Explanations & examples

Constantly developing yourself during your studies, your career, or in your free time: personal development is present in all aspects of your life. Setting personal learning objectives can help you in your development. But what exactly are personal learning objectives? How do you formulate these objectives and how do they help you progress in your studies, career, or on a personal level? Stuvia helps you set your personal learning objectives, from A to Z.

What are personal learning objectives?

Om beter te begrijpen wat persoonlijke leerdoelen precies zijn, is het handig om het verschil te weten tussen een leerdoel en een persoonlijk leerdoel:

To better understand what personal learning objectives are, it is useful to know the difference between a learning objective and a personal learning objective:

  • Learning objective

A learning objective is a goal you set to learn specific knowledge and skills. Learning objectives mainly concern your development as a professional. Learning objectives give you insight into your development when learning a (new) competency or skill for your work. The emphasis with these objectives is therefore on the learning process and the knowledge or skills you acquire in the process, rather than on the result.

  • Personal learning objective

A personal learning objective is an objective you set for yourself to personally develop specific knowledge and skills. You can set personal learning objectives for your studies (or work or internship), but also for a hobby or sport you do. So they focus on what you want to develop, not your work. Like a learning objective, the focus of a personal learning objective is on the learning process and not the outcome.

If you set learning objectives for your work, you can think of objectives that will take you further in your career. Setting personal learning objectives during your studies can help you focus better on achieving them. Of course, you can also have personal learning objectives for your private situation, such as learning to cope better with change or stress. By working on your personal learning objectives, you make your personal development measurable. This also ensures that you keep challenging yourself and find out exactly what you like or don't like.

How to formulate a personal learning objective?

Formulating a personal learning objective is not always easy. If you formulate your objectives too vaguely, chances are you will lose grip and motivation. Most importantly, you need them to be clear and specific. But how do you formulate such a personal learning objective? Following this step-by-step plan will make formulating your personal learning objectives a lot easier:

  1. Focus on positive behavior
    Learning something new is easier than unlearning something. Therefore, focus on positive behavior to promote motivation:

❌ “My smartphone should not distract me while studying”.

✅ “I want to study productively”.

There is a very simple reason for this: namely, when you are told "Don't think about a pink elephant", you will do just that and it will only work against your personal development.

  1. Make your personal learning objective as specific as possible
    The more specific your learning objective is, the easier it is to start and stick with it.

❌ “I want to speak more confidently in public”.

✅ “I want to speak more confidently in public in front of my colleagues during the regular Monday morning meeting”.

  1. Keep your personal learning objective achievable and realistic
    Don't set your standards too high or put yourself under pressure. No one turns from a wallflower into a TV presenter in a fortnight..

❌ “I want to be able to speak English fluently with my foreign clients”.

✅ “I want to be able to express myself better in English to my foreign clients by August this year. To develop this, I will start a Business English course next week”.

  1. Make sure you fully support your personal learning objectives
    Only when you fully support your personal learning objectives, you will find sufficient motivation to stick to them.

Have you set your personal learning objectives and want to know how best to reflect them? Then read the article on the STARR method.

Personal learning objectives: examples

You now know what personal learning objectives are and how to formulate them. To help you even further, we’ve created some examples of personal learning objectives on a personal, work, and study level.

Examples of personal learning objectives

  • I want to be able to verbally communicate stronger and listen more actively;
  • I want to learn to set my boundaries better;
  • I want to make my summaries more specific, which makes me sell more documents;
  • I want to engage in dialogue instead of discussion.

Examples of personal learning objectives work

  • I want to increase my work pace and work more efficiently;
  • I want to be the project leader on at least 2 projects in the next year;
  • I want to develop basic Python skills and will take a course to do so.

Examples of personal learning objectives study

  • I want to study for the exam for at least three hours a week from the beginning of each semester;
  • Every weekend, I spend at least three hours on homework first and then I get to do fun things;
  • I do the most important tasks at the beginning of the day.

In other words, start by thinking about what knowledge and skills you will need for your aspirations for the future, translate this into personal learning objectives and get to work! With the right formulation and motivation, personal learning objectives are a great way to develop yourself on a personal level.
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