Excelling in the career you love is always easy to say than do. But if you’re in it for the challenge, there are several strategies to help you take positive steps toward professional development. Owning this aspect of your life won’t just allow you to improve your knowledge and skills. It can also make you feel more confident and empowered in your abilities.
As you build up expertise, you can easily gain recognition from your clients or boss. You can show that you’re someone who can give insightful and valuable contributions. But increasing your professional value is not something you can do overnight. It requires months or even years of consistent hard work and determination. To make the professional development journey much easier for you, here are practical strategies you can use:
1. Determine personal drives
It’s hard to commit to a goal if you don’t know your “why.” Every successful individual needs a drive that will motivate them to reach their goals. What’s yours? It could be a lifestyle status, owning real estate property, financial independence, improved professional responsibility, or being rich.
Identify your personal drives. This process of self-evaluation and motivation will give you a deeper purpose to effectively set great goals in your professional or personal life. Just like what Simon Sinek said in his book Start with Why, if you don’t have a why or that burning desire for your area of interest or career, you are likely to be burned out and give up along the way.
2. Set SMART goals
Now that you’ve gotten your motivations laid out, it’s time to set your professional development goals and focus on them. This will give you a benchmark for determining if you are really succeeding or not. Set your SMART goals.
Specific – An effective goal is specific. If you’re not sure what goals to focus on, narrow them down, and identify when, where, and how you can plan to reach them. Set realistic goals and think through using these prompts: What objective should be accomplished? What steps must be taken? Who’s responsible for it?
Measurable – Make sure that your goals are measurable. Quantify them so that you can easily track your progress. This will also help you know when you have already achieved your goals. Define the physical manifestations of your goals to make them easier and clearer to reach.
Achievable – Achievability means that your goals are within your reach. Do a reality check and determine what is acceptable to you. Weigh the time, effort, and cost required so that you won’t end up with frustration and disappointment.
Relevant – Professional goals aren’t set for fun, but real benefits. Assess why your goals matter to the career path that you have chosen. This should be said again: identify your “why.”
Time-bound – One vital element of measuring success is setting time-based goals. They must have timely parameters. Set a deadline, but ensure that the timeline is flexible and realistic for you.
3. Manage distractions and obstacles
Most people are focused on their goals but not on the potential obstacles. Spend some time to figure out each distraction from your learning schedules. Make use of different brainstorming strategies to know what obstacles are on your way and how you can overcome them. You can write down your thoughts or create a mind map and visualize everything. These little things can help you improve your commitment.
What are the barriers to your professional growth? Is it your poor time management? Or is it your lack of career plan from the start? Drill down a little more and find means to develop accountability and strategies for achieving your goals.
4. Build the right relationships
Work relationships are a critical element of success, whether you’re an employee or a business owner. Connect and build relationships with people who are as dedicated as you to reaching career goals. Doing so will allow you to have a support group that will guide your career in the right direction. Determine your current circle of influence. Are they guiding you properly? Who are they right now?
We all have those moments when we find it hard to give extra time and effort to professional development. But with these simple strategies, you will be more capable of building up your expertise and enhancing your career value. Start investing in your career the right way, and you’ll be that better individual both in and outside of your workplace.