When pursuing your long-term career ambitions, remember to make your professional development goals SMART; which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based. Setting SMART goals provides an outline to help you better reach your goals (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2018). For more guidance about SMART goals, the CDC provides steps for writing out goals. As you continue to read, consider creating SMART goals for any of the sections below.
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Learn a new skill
Everyone has their own weaknesses and strengths. Regardless of the job role you may be in, there is always a new skill to be acquired or improved upon. When searching for a skill to improve or learn, consider the skills of your coworkers or leadership. Is there a skill that your manager may have that could benefit you in the workplace? Consider skills that could make work more efficient. Or you could learn something that would benefit your advancement (Indeed Editorial Team, 2021). Be open minded and proactive as you search for new skills to acquire.
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Whether you love it or hate it, networking is vital for career growth. Networking is about building and maintaining mutually beneficial working relationships. Your network offers you a pool of people from which you can exchange ideas, advice and support. A strong network, along with good networking skills, can help you elevate your profile, build a great reputation and can open up a whole world of opportunities to you (Llopis, 2012).
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Read more often
Often underestimated and overlooked, reading can have a significant impact on your career. The average CEO reads 60 books a year and 88% of financially successful people read at least 30 mins per day (King, 2018). The benefits of reading include greater vocabulary, improved writing skills, reduced stress, and enhanced analytical skills (King, 2018). Choosing books that relate to your career will be even more helpful and will keep you up to date with industry trends. It could possibly even put you ahead of your peers.
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Improve your work life balance
Research shows that creating a healthy work life balance is essential to leading a happy and productive lifestyle–it can have positive effects on your wellbeing and even your work (Gragnano et al., 2020). Build realistic boundaries between work and your personal life, whether that includes sticking to an 8-hour working day, not taking work home, or fighting the impulse to check work email on your day off. Work smarter, not harder.
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Sometimes people underestimate themselves. When you challenge yourself, and step out of your comfort zone you will find that you can do what you previously thought you couldn’t. The more you challenge yourself at work the more you will learn and grow. Don’t be afraid of failure–people often learn best through mistakes!
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Work on your weaknesses
Professional development is not all about working on your strengths. Identify your weaknesses and improve upon them so that they can benefit you and your career. Utilize the example of your peers or coworkers when strengthening your own weaknesses. Oftentimes you can observe and come up with ways to make your weaknesses easier to improve.
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Did you know that being organized can actually increase productivity and reduce stress? Research indicates that organization will also help you sleep better, promote a healthier diet, and improve relationships (Herbert, 2022) Create a clear workspace by decluttering both your physical AND digital desktops. Removing distractions can help you spend more time on important tasks and less time looking for things.
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Communicating effectively will help you in every aspect of your life from personal to professional. The Nonprofit Leadership Center (NLC) suggests that improving communication among employees and collaborators can transform a work environment. The NLC suggests strategies to develop better communication (Nastir, 2019). Webinars and online trainings and resources will help you improve communication such as presentation skills, interpersonal skills and leadership skills.
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] (2018, August). Evaluation Briefs 3b: Writing SMART objectives. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/evaluation/pdf/brief3b.pdf
Gragnano, A., Simbula, S., Miglioretti, M. (published 2020). Work-life balance: weighing the importance of work-family and work-health balance. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/17/3/907/pdfW
Herbert, J. (updated 2022). 5 surprising benefits of being organized. Healthy Living: Select Health. https://selecthealth.org/blog/2021/01/5-surprising-benefits-of-being-organized
Indeed Editorial Team. (2021). 5 Steps to learn new skills. https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/learn-new-skills
Llopis, Glenn. (2012). 7 Reasons networking can be a professional development boot camp. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2012/05/29/7-reasons-networking-can-be-a-professional-development-boot-camp/?sh=3cb8cadf6e90
King, C.M. (2018). Bill Gates reads 50 books a year-find out why. Mind and Body: Blinklist Magazine. https://www.blinkist.com/magazine/posts/most-ceos-read-60-books-per-year
Nastir, E. (2019). 4 simple strategies to improve team communication at work. Nonprofit Leadership Center. https://nlctb.org/tips/improve-team-communication/?gclid=CjwKCAjwp7eUBhBeEiwAZbHwkT2mB5xX80RHxHD08nO1VDxgwzx9BAPhrEYIOM–zPvo36qCe_yulhoCUtUQAvD_BwE