Taking Control of Your Own Professional Development Starts with a Plan

Professional Development, Oko_SwanOmurphy, iStock December 2014
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We spend an awful lot of time frozen and waiting when it comes to our own development plans. Maybe we are feeling stuck in our current position at our organization, or we are frustrated that we haven’t been promoted as quickly as we were expecting. Oftentimes a boss or supervisor has promised us action that has led to disappointing results or no results at all. Whoever, however or whatever has transpired, your career development and its subsequent plan is yours for the taking. What it boils down to is that it is your responsibility, no one else’s; you have the power to progress yourself.

The person who has your greatest personal interests in you is you. If you take a vested interest in your own development and make strides toward the goals you have set for yourself, you will be more likely to achieve them on your own.

1) Take an Inventory of Your Interests

What parts of your current job do you really enjoy? What are some parts that you don’t enjoy? What you don’t enjoy will often be a tell of a direction you don’t want to pursue. A promotion in an area or into job duties that you don’t like may stunt your potential in the long run.

Focus on the aspects of your job that you are most passionate about as they are important aspects in the person you are. In focusing on these skills and really seeking self-improvement, you will not only make yourself a better candidate for promotion but you will feel more fulfilled within your current role.

2) Ask Yourself Hard Questions

Who do you want to be? What do you want from your job? Most important, what do you want and what is keeping you from getting it? The answer might surprise you. Sometimes some self-reflection can go a long way toward helping us realize the changes we need to make and the strides we need to take toward reaching our goals.

3) Research Your Career Path

You may know what your end goal is but do you know the steps along the way. Find out what positions or job roles lay between you and the one you are aiming for. Find out what experience, education and skills your future self needs to progress through those steps and achieve your end goals. It is never a bad idea to create a list of personal and professional steps you will need to take in order to get you to where you want to be.

4) Build a Plan With a Realistic and Meaningful Goal

Think about how you want to get there and be realistic with the time frames you may need to reach your goal, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months. It is good to set give yourself time expectations and deadlines but keep in mind what your long term goal is and be prepared to change and flex your timeline as life and your career are not always linear things.

5) Recruit Mentors and Partners to Help you Achieve your Goals

It never hurts to build yourself a support system. It can be made up of colleagues and mentors who can help you or support you toward your end goal. It is kind of like networking, if you build relationships with people along the path, their support it will make the path easier

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  1. Such a great point that it really is each person’s responsibility. Yet I can’t help but feel there is some role for the organisation here. Why do so many just pay lip service to this? I do agree that waiting for your employer to buy into this more is a recipe for a stalled career. What better way to show your next boss how motivated you are then to present to them your development plan and achievements to date.


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