5 professional development strategies

Where are you at in your career now, and where would you like to be? Your career trajectory is up to you, and it hinges on the professional development goals you set for yourself.

What is professional development?

Professional development is affected by a few key factors, but ultimately, professional development comes down to your own determination to improve your skills and psychology as they relate to your job. If you’re truly committed to improving your professional life, it’s time to make a change. Take charge of your professional development plan by following the five steps below.

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1. Set professional development goals

You’ve heard the age-old question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” While this question might be overplayed, it is still a question that you must consider when making a professional development plan. Where do you see yourself in one year, five years, 10 years, and how old do you plan to be when it’s time to retire? Having a clear idea of where you are and where you want to go in your career is essential. If we don’t ask ourselves the right questions, how can we ever find the right answers? And without the right answers, we can never honestly assess our assets, challenges and roadblocks, all of which are critical pieces of information in moving our careers forward.

Once you have your long-term plan in mind, think of what it will take to get there. How can you set achievable, incremental goals that will lead to success down the road? Establish some short- and some long-term goals that ultimately help you reach your true professional purpose.

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2. Create a professional development plan

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Now that you’ve identified what it is you want from your career, it’s time to create a professional development plan to reach the goals you’ve set. Establish what tools you need to accomplish your goals and what metrics you’ll use to track your progress. What if you don’t know what tools you’ll need or how you’ll measure your progress? Try to break your professional development goals down into their simplest components. For example, if you want to learn to speak Spanish, break that goal down into a step-by-step plan: Begin with researching local Spanish classes, enroll in a  course most feasible for your schedule and complete the class.

As you begin to make progress, remember to track your successes and hold yourself accountable. In our class example, you can measure success and hold yourself accountable by completing your homework, doing well on a test and finding ways to integrate your new language skills into everyday life. You can recalibrate your plan if certain aspects aren’t working for you along the way.

3. Find a mentor

Looking to make major strides in your career? Sometimes the best way to grow is to find a mentor. Turn to someone who can give you objective advice, and whose career you admire. Don’t know anyone who would be a great mentor in real life? You can still research others whose success you can replicate. As Tony often says, “Success leaves clues.” To make an effective, meaningful professional development plan, study the career path of those who have already achieved massive success and mimic their actions.

How does shadowing a mentor boost one’s professional development? It’s a matter of physics; engaging a mentor creates a soft counterforce to balance the sometimes rock-hard path of professional growth. The Institute of Physics reports that, in addition to cultivating new skills and an understanding of one’s career trajectory, engaging a mentor also provides a sense of stability, constructive feedback and an unbiased perspective on the mentee’s goals, strengths and challenges. Mentorship is therefore a safe space for exploring one’s weaknesses and practicing new skills without fear of reproach.

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4. Look for professional development opportunities through your employer

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Oftentimes, employers offer added enrichment benefits like reimbursing employees for different classes or professional development training programs. Maybe you want to go back to school to receive your MBA, or perhaps you want to go through an immersive leadership training so more opportunities will be available for you in the future. Whether it’s finding ways to volunteer with your employer and expanding your horizons and résumé that way, or taking nighttime courses to learn a new language, make sure you’re not missing out on any beneficial courses.

5. Attend professional development events

There are many valuable professional development events out there – the trick is finding the one that’s right for your needs. Choosing an immersive program that helps you not only shape your career trajectory, but presents you with real-life situations is the best way to sharpen your skill set. Many times, employers will reimburse you for these beneficial programs as well.

When identifying your professional development goals, the key is to understand what it is you really want. What do you consider the pinnacle of professional success? What are your financial goals, and how does your career path align with them? Understanding your business identity is an incredible way to start on your journey to greater success.

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Professional development is crucial for business mastery

If you are a business owner or a manager charged with running a business, securing ongoing professional development is actually a pivotal part of running the business successfully. After all, operating a business is about far more than simply crunching numbers or learning to strategize around profits and losses. Rather, given the stress of running a company, coupled with inevitable economic fluctuations and the certainty of unforeseen setbacks, it is absolutely crucial that those responsible for making business decisions are equipped with holistic career and business mastery skills.

In order to cultivate well-rounded business mastery skills, one must first implement a well-designed professional development plan. It is this need for a business-relevant skill set and never-ending improvement that draws people to Business Mastery. This one-of-a-kind five-day experience guides participants in creating a customized professional development plan, leading to exponential growth and learning, clarity on future goals and maximal business outcomes. As you consider these areas of growth for your business, consider how they apply to your own individual professional development as well. In doing so, you will emerge with the skills and insights necessary to take your career and business to the next level.

Looking for a greater sense of self understanding?

Take the DISC assessment. This powerful tool helps you better understand your personal strengths, which you can then sharpen to help you reach your business goals.