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Don't Give Up on Your Professional Development Goals

Man standing at edge of water looking at sunset

Achieving career development through determination

I am so glad to be writing about this topic this week. You see, more than 80% of resolutions are dropped by January 17th. Great intentions at the beginning of the month slide away in the face of day-to-day pressures.

If you are intent on doing something with your career this year (and I hope you are…we should all be developing professionally), then you need more than will power.

You need to establish what you want. And then, you need to set firmly in your mind why this is important to you. Make it a priority, based on the positive difference the achievement of your goal or the change you want will make on your life.

Then you need a strategy and a plan. The plan needs to be workable. Thorough. Achievable.

Then you need to work the plan. Faithfully. Diligently.

In a way, that’s it. Arnold Schwarzenegger once was asked what the key to success was. He said: “Make the plan. Work the plan.”

Reality Gets in the Way

Of course, it isn’t simple. You have pressures, at work, at home, and within yourself.

Don’t give in to your current environment

I wish it weren’t true, but the reality is that for many people, their job and workplace is draining. If your current job or workplace has the potential to be better, then pursue that internal career development. If, however, it is a really bad situation, then call a spade a spade and start to get yourself on the market.

Don’t give in to scepticism

As soon as you dare to make a goal you may be visited by a little voice called scepticism, or fear, or fatalism. By all means, acknowledge it. Then, move on. If your goal is realistic, and your plan workable, it is all in the execution, and your belief in yourself.

Don’t sell out

An amazing thing happens when we start to pursue a professional goal. A lesser opportunity challenges it. A minor reassignment at work. A job offer doing the same thing, at the same level, for 7% more in salary. You have to make a choice, based on how important and how realistic your goal is.

Make space

If you have set a major professional goal for yourself this year, but your life is already overflowing with commitments and activities, then something has to give. Unfortunately, most people are wired to procrastinate on the important, but not urgent activities. Make your professional development urgent and clear some space to make it happen.

What could go wrong

Ask yourself why your plan might not work out. Where are you weak when it comes to achieving your goal? I am a big fan of leveraging strengths, but in career development, you need to think about these weak areas, like lack of a professional network, your performance record, skill gaps, experience gaps and poor interviewing and job search skills. If there is something that has a high likelihood of torpedoing your plan, fix it.

Yes, external factors like difficult bosses, stressful work environments, jobs that don’t fit, and looming deadlines will challenge that commitment. However, I believe that it all comes down to practicing personal responsibility. If professional and career development is important to you, then you have a responsibility to yourself to move it forward.

I hope that helps provide some perspective to what is an all too common problem at the end of January. Good luck!

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