Whether you’ve just graduated and have landed your dream job, or have been in the same career for a number of years, one way to keep yourself motivated and moving forward is totruly take charge of your own professional development.

Ideally, you’d like your employer to be responsible for maintaining your knowledge, keeping you up to date and teaching you new skills. Unfortunately, this isn’t often the case. If you want to develop your career or explore new avenues when they present themselves, you need to expand your knowledge and skills.

The job market is, understandably, a very competitive one, sothe need to invest in yourself is all the more urgent. There are many different ways you can gain new knowledge, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to ditch your day job and head back to college. Luckily, there are some tips below to help you make the most of your own professional development. 

What Does it Mean?

Professional development refers to the acquisition of skills and knowledge for both personal growth and career advancement. Taking charge of your own personal development means your capabilities will keep pace with the current standards in the industry you’re working in and ensure you have the knowledge and skills necessary for delivering a professional service. 

You’ll be more in tune with the latest trends and advancements. What’s more, focusing on your professional development also helps you to stay interested and interesting. With increased knowledge and new skills, you’ll be able to take advantage of exciting opportunities. 

There are a variety of options you can explore once you’ve decided on your professional development goals.

Setting Your Professional Development Goals

The purpose of your goals is to ensure you’re moving forward in your career. Setting new goals and making a plan for how you’re going to achieve them means you’re creating a path to success. But how can you be sure you’re setting the right goals in the first place? 

• What do You Want to Accomplish?

To start the goal-setting process, you need to think about where you are now and where you’d like to see yourself in the future. Don’t just think about the companies you want to work for or the type of job you’d like to do. Consider how your skills and knowledge will be able to help other people or benefit the local or global economy. By answering these questions, you will be able to see the bigger picture and identify your work values.

• Create a Long-Term Goal

Once you’ve determined your values, you’ll be able to set a long-term goal for yourself. Long-term means more than a few years and provides you with ample opportunity to makeadjustments as you go. Try not to be too general because detail will help to narrow your focus. 

• Create a Series of Mini-Goals

To keep you motivated and working hard towards the long-term goal, you need to break it down into smaller goals. Be as precise and detailed as possible with a definite timeframe. These mini-goals have to be measurable, attainable and realistic. Break these down into steps, and you’ll be able to create an action plan for reaching your long-term goal.

Once you’ve determined your long and short-term goals, you can look into the variety of options available for your continued professional development. 

6 Options for Achieving Your Professional Development Goals

Learning can be a lifelong process – if you want it to be!Gaining new knowledge and skills don’t necessarily have to take place in a classroom. There are many different ways you can increase your knowledge, including:

• Take an Online Course

Thanks to the internet and technology it’s possible to gain access to almost every kind of educational material in the form of an online course. You can learn a new skill or gain a recognized qualification without having to give up your day job or travel to a University or college. 

Whether you want to learn from an expert how to design a website, or study for an online MBA from this University in Australia, the sky’s the limit. There are thousands of e-learning platforms and courses you can access from your own living room. It’s all down to you whether you choose something that is relevant to your professional development goals or something completely new. 

• Take Advantage of Free Online Resources

If you’ve got the willingness to learn, the internet is a fabulous resource. There’s an infinite amount of information available with just a few clicks. There are articles, eBooks,guides and how-to’s on almost every subject you can think of.

Download as much as you want and read it in your free time. Another benefit of using the internet is that you can look for help and advice from others. For example, there are many online forums you can join if you want to discuss a particular issue with experts in your field.

• Look for a Mentor

There are people you can approach if you want help with your learning. A mentor is a person with more expertize or experience in the area you’re looking to progress in. They can be a significant support when you’re feeling lost or stuck. Finding the right kind of mentor is easier than you think, andan excellent place to start is your own network. 

If you can’t find someone to mentor you, then look for online communities and forums. These may be able to offer guidance. Plus, there are a surprising number of people who are only too happy to share their knowledge with someone like you who is eager to learn new things. 

• Training Seminars and Workshops

The internet hasn’t taken over completely, and there are still hands-on events you can attend. Attending seminars and workshops will increase your knowledge, but it will also bring you into contact with other like-minded people, thereby expanding your network

Look to your local community and check whether there are any interesting events taking place. It makes a pleasant change to step away from your computer screen and socialize with other people. 

• Learn by Your Mistakes

Yes, we all make them, and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, as long as you learn from those mistakes. There are often very valuable lessons to learn from the wrong decisionsyou might have made. Failure is part and parcel of your professional and personal development so don’t beat yourself up! Instead, think about what your mistakes have taught you and see whether you can make any improvements. 

• Job Shadowing

If you’re not quite sure about your future goals but are curious about various roles, you could consider job shadowing. It can be a great way to learn more about the different positions in the company you’re currently working in. You might need to discuss this kind of opportunity with your manager or human resources officer as it could be a relatively new concept to them. 

It’s never too late to start investing in yourself. Take note of the tips above, and you’ll soon find yourself head and shoulders above those in your company that are less motivated than you. It won’t take long for your managers to notice the amount of work and effort you’re putting in, and you’ll be provided with opportunities for climbing the ladder. 

If these opportunities don’t come your way, there’s nothing to stop you taking your knowledge and skills elsewhere! Knowing that it’s all down to you to develop yourself is the first step to take. Once you realize this, your options are endless.

Guest writers and carefully selected for Career Enlightenment. Thanks for reading!

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