Investing in your professional development is an important part of your career. If you don’t continuously learn new skills and enhance those you already have, you’ll become less marketable and can be easily overtaken by others in the same field. Moreover, if you’re an employee, you might not get that raise and/or promotion you’ve been aiming for, if you don’t make the decision to invest in yourself. Also, if you’re an entrepreneur, your business might not be as successful as it might be if you made this important step.
Simply put, investing in your professional development is well worth the time and money. More than ever, there are many avenues where you can find ways to develop yourself professionally. Here are just a few that can help you grow in your chosen career.
Get a Mentor
What is the difference between learning how to play the violin by watching online tutorials, and learning with a teacher? The latter gives you real-time, one-on-one feedback regarding your posture, bowing technique, and grip, plus many other insights. You simply can’t get this when you rely on instructional videos or articles. Of course, there’s nothing wrong about learning this way, and using various ways to learn and to gain skills all contribute to your professional abilities. However, it’s more powerful to get this knowledge from a mentor and to benefit from their experience as they have already been in your shoes and would therefore know the struggles you’re facing.They are the best people to know how to encourage you and help achieve your goals. Having a mentor also means having someone to provide feedback and objective, honest advice.
A lot of successful people are known to be prolific readers. Bill Gates, for example, is known to read one book a week. You don’t have to aspire to do the same, but it will certainly help if you can broaden your library. Don’t limit yourself to things that you love reading about. Moreover, don’t think that you should only stick to “serious” topics. Get yourself a good balance of fiction and non-fiction genres. Who knows what kind of ideas you’ll discover that will be helpful in improving yourself and your business? As a bonus, reading more can also help you improve your writing skills.
Enroll in a Training Program
No matter how good you already are, there’s always room for improvement. Maybe you aren’t as good with time management (a critical skill, especially if you’re a freelancer). Maybe you need to develop better selling and negotiating skills. Whatever aspect of your professional life you might think you need to improve on, you can find a professional development program for that. Remember that even CEOs regularly attend workshops and conferences to learn from experts in various fields! If these experienced executives make time for further learning and polishing their skills, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t as well. The trick is to be honest when you self-evaluate so you can invest on training programs that will address your weaknesses. Another good tip is to focus more on horizontal growth so you can provide more value to those working around you.
Build a Network
When you build a network, you not only gain new friends and develop new relationships. You also gain mentors (see the first point) and colleagues who can share knowledge and impart pieces of wisdom. Plus, building a network pushes you out of your comfort zone. This can help you develop confidence, find a support group, and discover more opportunities for growth. It’s also a great idea if you can build a network that’s related to work and something that caters to your interests.
Get a Hobby
You’re lucky if your job is also your passion. If you’re not as fortunate, it’s a good thing to find a hobby to help cultivate your interests. If you want, you can find a hobby that’s related to your work. For example, you might find creative writing a worthwhile endeavor if you’re always writing marketing proposals and content. Of course, there’s also value in finding a hobby that’s completely unrelated to your career. Whether that’s dancing, painting, playing video games, sewing, knitting, gardening, mountain climbing, or any other activity, do it! Remember the old adage: all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
Share What You Know
Do you want to master something? Teach it! Imparting your knowledge to others, who are not as well-versed in the subject as you are, makes you think and see the material from new eyes. You might even remember some details that you may have forgotten over the months or years you’ve been practicing in the industry. Of course, you can also use the opportunity to learn from your “students.” What’s great is that there are now various networks to share what you know. There’s the traditional classroom-type or conference-type gatherings, there’s blog writing or vlog creation, and even social media. LinkedIn is a particularly great place to share information and knowledge, as the platform is intended for professionals looking to start or advance their careers.
In today’s fast-paced world, you’ll be quickly left behind if you don’t make efforts to develop yourself. The market is dynamic and ever-changing and you should be too!