Making time for professional development can be a challenge, especially when we already balance work, volunteering, family time, and other activities. Learn to leverage what extra time you do have for professional development. It may just be the difference between where you are now and where your 5-year plan says you’ll be.
Establish your goals
To make the most of professional development opportunities, it’s important to understand WHY you want to grow. Determine if you’re motivated by a career change, increased wages, or to boost your confidence. Clarifying your priorities will help provide a clear vision for your next steps.
Though professional development doesn’t necessarily need to be part of your daily routine, it does need to be on your calendar. You never know when you’ll be ready to look for a new job or start your own business. Put a few hours on your calendar every month, or look for networking events in advance so that you ensure you prioritize your future for when the right opportunity comes.
But nevertheless, establish a designated date, time, and place to make certain you follow through.
Read regularly before bed
Despite reducing stress, improving cognitive performance, and increasing creativity, reading is an excellent opportunity for professional development. Books are an excellent medium to learn timeless professional principles and reading before bed will allow you to implement the most important takeaways before you enter your next workday.
Write regularly in the morning
A popular, but accurate, rule for this decade has been to create before you consume. Because we are bombarded with thousands of messages and notifications daily, creating before the noise enters allows you to generate new ideas and implement them.
Establishing this discipline first thing in the morning will allow you to enter a creative state before you consume any other information. It reinforces the information you glean throughout the week and can become a quick habit to capitalize on a new strength before the weight of your day is on you.
Make podcasts apart of your routine
Even when life is busy, podcasts are a great way to access industry experts during your commute, time spent getting ready, or even during your exercise routine. Take some time every few weeks to research and subscribe to your favorite podcasts.
That way, as new episodes are released, you receive a notification directly instead of searching for episodes every time. The GaryVee Audio Experience, Marketing School, Tropical MBA, and Sales Gravy are some great ones to help you start.
Find a way to grow in your role at work
Sick of your job, but need a way to pay the bills? Take some ownership and see if it’s possible to grow in your role with different skill sets. Whether it’s creating processes for marketing efforts or event planning, there are ways to further your career while in your current position. Be vigilant for ways to expand and gain more responsibility.
Take an online course
Though we’d all love to go back to graduate school, realistically, student tuition continues to rise, and the value of a college education is sharply declining. Before you embark on an MBA program, look for established skills you can develop and find an online course or certificate program. Google, Udemy, Skillshare, and Coursera are excellent resources to consider.
Find a community
Instead of attending networking event after event, choose an organization or recurring event to invest time in. Change your presuppositions about networking, and see it as a long term vehicle to foster mutually beneficial relationships instead of taking shortcuts to have a longer contact list.
Cast your net deep instead of wide by developing valuable connections you can trust. The Chamber of Commerce in your city, a BNI group, or a community like America’s Future Foundation is a great starting point.
Ultimately, take time to refine your goals, choose one opportunity to further your professional education, and find a mentor or community to hold you accountable. Do these three things over time, and you’ll have a bright future ahead.