Career development is the ongoing process of learning new skills and improving your current ones in order to reach the next step in your career and achieve your long-term goals.…
Many of us find that to grow and progress in our life and work, we need to undertake personal and professional development. But what does personal or professional development actually mean? And what do you need to do to put a development plan in place? Read our guide below to find out!
What is personal and professional development?
While we’re covering both personal and professional development in this article, they aren’t the same thing. However, your personal and professional development plans should go hand in hand and align with each other.
Professional development encompasses everything to do with progressing your current role or career in the direction you want it to go. It may involve training to enhance your knowledge, such as learning to use new software, or development of essential skills for you to stay at the top of your game, professionally.
Personal development means focusing your energy on aspects of your life outside of the office. Whether you are looking to become a better communicator, or enhance your conflict resolution, whatever it is that you believe will benefit your personal life.
There can be some overlap between the two. For example, by learning how to communicate more effectively will benefit you in both your personal and professional lives.
Benefits of creating personal and professional development plans
By taking the time to figure out clear personal and professional development plans in the short-term, you will reap several rewards when looking ahead at your longer-term goals. For example you’ll:
- Have more clarity and direction in regard to your life and career goals
- Learn how to establish measurable goals
- Be more likely to stay motivated to complete your goals
- Improve your career prospects and
- By taking some time to focus on your personal development, you’ll have a better work/life balance
Managing your own professional development within an organisation
So, you may be asking yourself, ‘how can I improve my job performance within the company I work for?’ The first thing you need to do is decide what areas you want to work on and the steps you’ll need to put in place to get there. Once you have a clear idea, the next action is having an open conversation with your manager to discuss how they can support you.
For example, if you’re a PA and want to become more involved with event management type-duties, express your interest in this area with your manager. If there’s a company-wide event on the calendar, you could suggest that you take on the logistics of organising it, for example.
If the skills you want to develop require a more formal training, your manager may be able to organise this on your behalf, as helping you upskill is in their best interests as well.
Outside of specific technical skills or areas you’d like to develop, you can also make small changes to your habits at work to help. For example, some people learn to develop hyper productivity by working off an empty inbox or trying new time management methods, like the pomodoro technique.
Finally, developing your social media presence (especially LinkedIn), is another aspect that will help develop your career. You can develop your professional (and personal) brand by posting about your interests, adding your commentary to industry-related news and events, and even create blogs or videos to be seen as a thought leader in your space.
How to approach your personal development
When looking at your personal development, you should also start with identifying the areas that you want to work on. For some, this may be their mental health or wellbeing, for others, they may want to become more confident in social situations. There are several online courses and resources available online to help you improve all kinds of areas of your life, like meditation to calm your mind, or meeting new people through networking apps like Meetup.
Remember – even though they are entirely self-directed, your personal goals should also be measurable so you can stay focused and follow them!
Following up and checking in
Whether you’re focussing on personal or professional development, after you’ve set your goals and you’ve developed your plan of action, you’ll need to set reminders to check in and reassess.
Whether it’s a visual reminder like a post-it note or an alert in your calendar, use whatever method works best for you and stick to it! Don’t forget to plan a little reward for yourself once you complete a goal, as it will make the victory even sweeter.
If you’re looking for an online course to help your professional development, our partnership with New Skills Academy allows you to access their online content with up to a 65% discount!