Professional development is a far-reaching concept that’s unique for everyone. In essence, it’s all about setting your career goals and working towards them. Therefore, since everybody has different career goals and timelines, professional development looks a lot different from person to person.
When people hear ‘professional development’, they often think about training courses. From resilience microlearning in Australia to industry specific training courses. However, professional development isn’t just about training, and nor does it have to be exclusively about work. Building your skills and capabilities can be done in a variety of ways.
In this article, we’re going to show you how to enhance your capability and start achieving your career goals. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
Set Clear Development Goals
Firstly, you need to start with some careful planning. Professional development is such a broad concept that it’s easy to get lost along the way. While it’s important to take opportunities as they present themselves, you don’t want to spend time and energy on activities that aren’t beneficial. So, the first step is to lay out some clear goals.
Goal setting is a very personal thing. Some people like to start with a long-term goal and break it down into smaller steps. This is a great way to do it, as it gives you plenty of milestones to celebrate along the way, and you’re always focused on a clear goal. You can also attach some timelines to your goals. For example, if you want to achieve a promotion in the next two years, start plotting out what you need to do, and when you need to do it.
With your professional development goals in place, you can now start ticking off your smaller goals.
Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
To develop both professionally and personally, it’s important to step outside of your comfort zone. We often hear of people being stuck in a rut because they didn’t, or couldn’t, embrace change. The worst thing is, these troughs can be hard to crawl out of once you get comfortable. It’s not about taking unnecessary risks, but more about pushing yourself to embrace new challenges and situations.
It might be making a sideways move to a completely new department to develop more skills. It could be something as simple as attending networking events where you don’t know anybody. It’s also about being open to opportunities. While goal-setting is great, we all know that things can come out of left-field and derail our plans. Remember to be flexible, because some of these opportunities might just accelerate your journey towards a goal.
Understand and Access Available Resources
If you’ve set your goals and broken them down to smaller tasks, you’re going to need some help along the way. When you start looking around, you’d be surprised just how many resources are out there to help you succeed.
Resources could be training courses, literature, professional memberships, even other people. Mentors, for example, can be a great resource for helping you reach your goals. Think broadly about where you can find the help you need, and leave no stone unturned. In today’s digital world, you’ve got a whole host of tools at your disposal, so give everything a try.
You can use technology to your advantage, such as using social media to build your own brand. Platforms like LinkedIn and other forms of social media can be great for networking and finding the resources you need to succeed.
Build Resilience in the Workplace
People often talk about personal resilience, but building resilience in the workplace is equally important. We invest a lot of time into our professional lives. Not just in the sense that we spent a lot of hours at work, but our careers form an important part of who we are. We have a lot of identity attached to our careers, and they can even be a major influence on our self-worth.
Needless to say, most careers throw up plenty of challenges along the way, and we need to learn how to cope with them. That’s what building resilience is all about – finding ways to deal with challenges and overcome them. There are plenty of ways to build resilience, but one of the best ways to learn is by attending training. You can find resilience micro learning in Australia that teaches a range of skills such as problem solving, coping with conflict, health and well being and finding support.
Seek Out a Positive Mentor
Mentors are a great source of information, encouragement and advice when you’re trying to achieve career goals. The best thing about finding mentors is there aren’t really any rules. You can work with mentors however you like, whether it be semi-regular catch-ups or something more structured.
Mentors come in many forms too, so you don’t need to limit yourself. You might seek out someone who’s already achieved what you hope to. This makes sense, because they have plenty of valuable advice to share. However, mentors outside of your workplace and even outside of your industry can be beneficial too.
Remember, there’s not just one path to success, and you don’t need to follow anybody else’s blueprint. So, sometimes it’s great to just have a mentor who offers encouragement and general advice, rather than coaching specific to your workplace.
Become a Life-Long Learner
Most successful people get where they are because they’re always prepared to learn. There’s a common misconception that leaders are always the ones doing the teaching, but it’s not true. Successful leaders listen just as much as they speak, and they understand that there’s always something new to learn. Even if you know all there is to know about a subject, you can still improve other capabilities such as communication, leadership, or how to teach others.
If you develop a true thirst for learning, you can usually accelerate the path to your career goals. Always take the opportunity to attend training courses, seminars and conferences. Subscribe to respected publications and follow thought leaders online. The more you learn, the more you can achieve.
Consider Professional Memberships
Obtaining membership to professional organizations relating to your industry can provide you with a wealth of resources. There’s usually a cost involved, but the right ones are an extremely valuable investment.
Professional memberships give you plenty of resources, such as training and development opportunities, e-newsletters, webinars or seminars, and even networking opportunities. Best of all, many employers will reimburse you for the cost of membership.
Not only do you get plenty of professional development opportunities, but these types of membership also give you a career advantage. Many people overlook this resource; therefore, you can always be one step ahead of your competitors.
Help to Develop Others
We talk a lot about developing ourselves, but another key part of professional development is actually helping others. Being able to guide, teach and coach others is a key skill that you should always try to develop throughout your career. There’s a couple of good reasons for this.
Firstly, as you move through the ranks, you need to exhibit and grow your leadership qualities. Quite simply, great leaders invest in developing others, so this is a skill you need to have. Secondly, reputation is often a big part of career success. People look up to those who take the time to help them, so this improves your standing.
Most of all though, when you begin developing others, you also learn a lot about yourself. While they may feel like they’re the ones learning, you’re also developing yourself at the same time.
Network for Valuable for Connections
Finally, don’t forget about networking as a professional development tool. To achieve your career goals, sometimes you need a little bit of luck to go your way. One type of luck is meeting the right people, or being in the right place at the right time. When you network, you increase your exposure to opportunities and make valuable connections. Remember, the person you chat with at a seminar today could be the person offering a career-defining opportunity in the future.