Professional development. Does it mean you develop yourself to do your current job better or, to be able to advance your career, or maybe it is both?
I do not know when it started, this bifurcating of self-development into personal or professional, but I do believe that any self-development will benefit you personally and professionally. I choose to define professional development as anything you invest in, and work at, to improve yourself as a human being. When you develop yourself, in any aspect, your life will improve, personally and professionally.
So, here are my 7 Key Self-Improvement Choices you can make to improve yourself personally and professionally.
- Choose to create a vision of who you want to be and where you want to go. Invest the time to think about and decide who you want to be in the future and what you will be doing. When you choose to have a clear vision of yourself in the future you have a much better chance of becoming that future you. The catch is to choose that vision each day. Spend a few minutes each morning, before the day’s activities get started, to visualize the future you, where you want to be, and what you will be doing.
- Choose a job, career, or profession that allows you to enjoy, most of the time, what you do in that position. When you spend most of your workday doing tasks and behaviors that you enjoy, your energy level and general outlook on life improve. You will then be working to live instead of living to work, and more importantly, you will enjoy your work.
- Choose to own your shortcomings and weaknesses. Sometimes all this requires is to give up your need to be right. For some reason we tend to view it as a weakness if we are wrong about something. Therefore, we will fight to keep from acknowledging the fact that we could be wrong. Being wrong about something is not a shortcoming or a weakness… it is just being misinformed. Figure out what weaknesses and shortcomings you experience. You can always ask family, coworkers, and friends to contribute to the list! Prioritize the list and determine which one to work on first. Re-prioritize and repeat.
- Choose to create and complete a plan to improve upon those shortcomings or weaknesses. Just because you created a prioritized list does not mean the job is finished. When you create an objective, thoughtful plan to improve a weakness and then act on it, you will find yourself in a constant state of personal and professional growth. Most of us will find that our list of weaknesses and shortcomings becomes an ever-changing and ever-present list of self-development opportunities.
- Choose to celebrate your strengths. Decide what your strengths have been and allow yourself the luxury of patting yourself on the back. Reward yourself in your own way for your accomplishments. This should not be a public display to convince others of how great you are and to highlight your awesome strengths. Rather, it should be an internal recognition of what you do well.
- Choose to risk! Always playing it safe does not allow you to fail. How you handle failure will showcase a weakness or shortcoming as will how you handler success. Playing it safe will never allow you experience either. Evaluate the upside and the downside. If you determine you can’t handle the downside, ask yourself, “Why?” When you choose to risk, spend as much time deciding how you will handle failure as you do to determine the upside. Be sure the chance of success exceeds the chance of failure.
- Choose to take responsibility for the choices you make in your life. If any of the above choices don’t work out… choose to take responsibility. Find out why and make a different choice. When you realize that it is your choices that have put you exactly where you are in life and that it is your choices that will determine your future, choose wisely how to advance or change the direction of your career. I will call that Professional Development because you will be investing time, money, and resources to actively go from where you are to where you want to be.
One final thought, when you grow as human being professional growth is assured.