Make 2022 the Year You Focus on Professional Development
It’s a brand new year and you’re excited to make things happen. To say the past couple of years were unpredictable would be an understatement. But you’re really ready to take hold of your career and set the proper plans in place to focus on your professional development — even if this year ends up being just as unpredictable as the past.
You’re not worried about feeling unmotivated. In fact, if anything, you’ve never been this inspired to work toward the resolutions you set for yourself. What you are worried about, however, is being organized and systematic about how you approach professional development.
Which makes complete sense. It isn’t like there was a course in college on how to continually better yourself. And your workplace may not help you figure out how to plan for growth either. For most people, an annual performance review helps to point out weaknesses that need some assistance and set goals for the future, but figuring out the steps to take to get from A to B are in your hands, and your hands only.
Here, we’ve outlined how you can focus on professional development in the year ahead in a way that feels organized and approachable.
1. Outline your year.
Begin your focus on professional development by sitting down with a twelve-month calendar and plotting out any personal and professional dates of importance. Think of things such as conferences, training, sales goals or launches, vacations, holidays, or other times you plan on being away from the office.
Then, make note of any distractions or abnormal periods of time you experienced last year. As an example, maybe the end of November is always quiet as your customers are likely taking time off for Thanksgiving or doing their holiday shopping. Or, maybe you had a surge of business at the beginning of the summer. Indicate these times as they’ll be helpful to show you when you’ll likely be overwhelmed, and therefore not available to dedicate time to learning new things, and when you’ll have downtime in your career.
2. Call in professional development help.
Now that you know what you can expect from the next twelve months, we highly recommend asking for help. Set a meeting with your supervisor or mentor and show them the schedule you’ve outlined for 2022. Then, let them know the specific goals you’re working towards, for example, a promotion or a work certification. Now, ask them how they’d recommend you go about parceling out your time so that you can achieve those goals.
If you don’t have anyone with more experience you can tap into, consider calling on a peer for a mastermind session of sorts in which you both help each other plan out your professional development approach for the year ahead. Make sure to choose someone with the same level of motivation as you, so that you can both cheer each other on and pick each other up throughout the course of the year.
3. Plan for your professional development now.
By this point, you should know the exact things you’d like to accomplish by this time next year, as well as what experience or people you can lean on to help you achieve those goals. Do what you can at this very moment to plan ahead.
For some people, that may mean that you’re booking conference tickets now, even if the event doesn’t occur until the end of the year. It may mean you’re applying to speak at events, as you’ll need significant lead time to get accepted and prepare your presentations. Even small efforts are helpful here. Don’t dismiss something as tiny as booking a conference room at your workplace for your weekly mentoring meetings. Scheduling all 52 appointments at once ensures you’ll actually meet regularly, and removes the time you’ll spend scrambling to find a room later in the year.
4. Create professional development checkpoints in your calendar.
Hopefully, you’ll have a list of objectives and a schedule to attain them by this point. Now, set some time aside to create checkpoints in your calendar so that you can review your efforts throughout the year. For this step, you’ll need to know what type of reminders work best for you. Are you a person who can set up a mid-year review or quarterly reminders in your calendar to review your efforts and make any adjustments as necessary? If not, you may need a more hands-on approach, such as scheduling weekly email reminders for yourself in advance that indicate what you needed to work on that week so you know at all times if you’re working toward your professional development goals, or if you’re just existing with your fingers crossed that things will actually happen how you’d like them to.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of our everyday work experiences, but proper planning, calling in help when needed, and regularly checking in on your progress goes a long way to make sure all your professional development goals actually get achieved over the course of a year.