Professional growth can lead to dream jobs, higher salaries and improved livelihood. For employees, these attributes are meaningful and essential at every aspect of their lives.
Building a plan for your professional growth consists of several steps, each one bringing you closer to your goals. Whether you’re looking to change careers or branch out on your own, create a website and build your brand thereafter, you’ll want to read further about the different growth strategies to get there.
Why is professional growth important
Professional growth refers to the development or refinement of skills and talents, as well as gained work experience, that can help you reach a desired outcome. From the standpoint of an employee, this may entail staying on top of trends in an industry, taking enrichment seminars and tapping into new networks which can ultimately result in a new career path, better paying job or reputation.
That said, professional growth is not limited to the workplace. It can also take place in off-the-job environments, such as continuing education courses at a university or extracurricular activities that push you out of your comfort zone, subsequently challenging you to think and act differently. For example, imagine you started training for a marathon twice a week and needed to learn how to pace yourself better, improve your speed and master the art of rest and recovery. Each week, you'd sharpen your skills while also becoming physically and mentally stronger. Even more, you'd learn how to control your stress and ease anxiety. These new-found skills are important traits that are beneficial at any stage, whether you're beginning a new job or starting a business of your own. Go beyond just relying on motivational quotes and create an actionable business plan.
Steps to creating a professional growth plan
01. Get the right tools
In order to build your professional growth plan, you need to first gather tools which can help you during the process. This will ensure that you stay on track and successfully overcome each step you need to get to your goal.
You could focus on different areas of growth, including those that fall into mental, physical and even intellectual development. Whichever one you set your mind to, here are some simple ways to start.
Improve your analytical skills: When it comes to the workplace, learning to analyze situations will help you effectively address problems and make rational decisions about them. Analytical skills include the ability to research, collect and assess information to ask the right questions and come up with ideas for solving them. You can sharpen your skills by reading more, building upon your logic and problem-solving capabilities with brain games, taking an exercise class and even joining a debate club. You could even watch a few "how-to" YouTube videos within your field.
Create an emotional balance: Life has its ups and downs. Practicing self-care is essential to dealing with them. If you eat healthier, sleep better and avoid excessive drinking and smoking, you’ll be prepared to manage your impulses and emotions, even in stressful settings. Begin by taking moments to reflect on the good and negative experiences throughout the day, and learn from them. Then, use that clarity as the basis for taking the next actionable step toward your plan.
Workout your body: Adults typically reach their physical peak in their late 20s and 30s, studies have found. The benefits of exercise include boosting mental abilities - sharper memory and concentration - and reduced cortisol levels, or the body’s stress hormone. Start prioritizing regular workouts or increasing physical activity. Even something as simple as a quick walk or a five-minute stretch from your desk can help you ease into more physical movement and give you a much-needed break to help you refocus. That said, with busy work schedules, many men and women say that they cannot find time to exercise. Today, more employers not only see the importance behind the physical health of their employees, they are also changing how to help them achieve a regular workout routine. With onsite gyms, companies like Facebook, Reebok and Wix are committed to keeping employees both healthy and happy.
02. Set your goals
Now it’s time to create specific goals for your journey toward professional growth. You may already have some ideas of what you want to work on or to achieve, but you need to ask yourself, Why?
You may want many things that sound natural and reasonable, like getting a raise or starting an online business as your side hustle. The higher purpose of making more money can be for a variety of reasons, including saving for the future, closing debt or upgrading your lifestyle. Once you know the motivation for getting there, or your why, it will be easier to connect having to take these actions to your dreams.
Additionally, setting SMART goals ensures that your objectives are also reachable ones. Using the SMART method, which stands for “specific,” “measurable,” “attainable,” “relevant” and “time-bound,” you’re able to break down big ambitions into smaller ones. Say your goal is to start an entrepreneurship. You can specify your aim to create a business website for your venture, set a deadline to launch it, measure its success by the amount of visitors to your site, and grow your business by building up your online branding assets.
03. Continue your education
In times of change, you’ve got to focus on your professional growth in order to improve and adapt to evolving landscapes. Continuing education is vital to that process, and it pays, too, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As an employee, you want to continuously gain knowledge that can help you in your job and own life. Take advantage of industry conferences, events and free online learning websites to develop another personal skill, like improved oral communication, learn how to use new technological tools and stay relevant with the latest research in your field. This will not only diversify and enhance your resume, but also increase your self-worth and boost confidence.
04. Seek out new opportunities
Many of us who are looking for professional growth are inspired by the prospect of landing our dream job. It’s time to do some searching as to where that may be.
First, you’ll want to update or write a resume that you’ll send out. With this in mind, you’ll also need to perfect the craft of writing a bio so that you make a positive impression and impact on your candidacy. This will also come in handy when you need to introduce yourself in an email to employers.
Second, you’ve got to assess the training you have received and see where else you can advance within a field you’re passionate about. You may want to seek out services that include career counseling, coaching, mentorship and apprenticeship, depending on how much of a switch you’re making. Once you’ve made the next round, all that’s left is to prepare for a remote video interview.
05. Start networking
One of the best ways to nurture your career and take charge of your professional growth is through building relationships with people, both inside and outside your organization.
These kinds of connections can help you uncover new interests or renew your passion in an area of expertise. As you network with people in your industry, you’ll gain insight into job leads, the right referrals and other valuable information to achieve your career goals. Remember to carry a business card with you to give out at in-person meetings.
You can also do online networking through social media channels like LinkedIn as well as creating a portfolio website or have a personal website to showcase your work.
06. Take on more responsibilities
In this stage of developing your professional growth strategy, you need to be ready to take the initiative and do what needs to be done in order to propel yourself forward.
Taking on more responsibility at work can be uncomfortable and feel hard at times, but by pushing yourself, you can really make real progress in your growth. You’ll want to reach out to a supervisor and discuss what additional tasks you can take on. Another way is to become an expert in a particular area, gaining credibility and trust in the workplace. As a result, others will seek you when new projects arise as an authority figure.