Here’s a not so secret secret from 15+ years of life in the workforce; professional development is not just a fancy buzzword, it’s a critical component as you move on and up in your career. It’s also an approach that opens you up to moving through your career with more ease and more success. If you’re not earmarking a bit of budget each year for learning and growth opportunities, you’re simply missing out. If you’re wondering why others seem to expand their influence, get hired by that cool new company, consistently put out insights on the latest trends and tactics, it’s this; they create room in their schedule not to serve clients but to serve their own curiosity.
Over the years I’ve easily spent upwards of $40k on professional development. While not every investment yielded the exact outcome I was hoping for, each taught me a bit more about running a business, about interpersonal relationships and perhaps most importantly and invaluably, about myself and the type of business I want to run.
Now, I’m certainly not saying you need to throw down tens of thousands right now, but I do think it’s in your best interest to examine how you are ensuring you stay top of your game – motivated, supported and thriving in your profession.
Read on for ways you can begin to make this a priority for you as well.
Identify your knowledge gaps
Are you hiding from your money? Terrified of turning people down? Completely faking the part of the presentation where you talk about evaluation and metrics? Is SEO a vague concept? Do you know how to create a project plan, read a profit and loss statement, update your website, edit a photo and add some text? Figure out where you are hiding in your work because of a lack of information – and then find a coach, program, book, whatever – to close that gap once and for all.
Get to know your future self
We are all often working toward some future in which things are better. We are more confident, more flush with cash, able to nail that headstand, etc. While identifying specific knowledge gaps in great, it’s also important to check in with this future self and ask yourself the following 3 questions
- What does she know that I don’t?
- What does she believe that I don’t?
- How does she feel that I don’t?
From there you’ve just created a path. You can work in adding in the knowledge, shifting the beliefs with tools like thought work, EFT, or a morning writing practice, and identifying how you can create the feelings you imagine in the future in the present. For example, if your future self is full of joy and peace, identify where in life you feel the most joy and peace currently, and make sure you are creating time every single day to do one of the activities that makes you feel that way.
Get in the room
I credit Tory Dube (check out her podcast An Excellent Example of Being Human) for introducing me to this idea, which is basically that if you want to be around the experts, the movers and shakers in your industry, if you yourself aspire to be among them, then you have to get in the room with them. This is why going to conferences is important, this is why showing up for that panel discussion is worth it, why joining that expert’s group program matters. Whether you are volunteering your time or paying the fee to attend, you need to get in the room with the actual humans you believe have “made it.” How else can you spark the conversation and make the connection.
I can’t tell you how many aspiring publicists have booked a career coaching session with me, joined PRISM or signed up for a Rework session and immediately I’ve been able to directly introduce them to the owner at their dream agency, or happen to know of an assistant job opening up.
In addition to being oh so good for your brain, employing a curious approach to life is what keeps you invested and involved in the world around you. Don’t ignore the pings to explore new ideas, skills and experiences. You never know if that water rafting trip is where you’ll meet your new co-founder, if that ballroom dance class is where you’ll find your next client, if that jewelry-making class in the inspiration for your next side hustle. Give your interests time to flourish.
Build your platform
If you build it, they might not come right away, but at least you’ll have a place to proactively send people who want to learn more about you. Get your personal brand in order, build your website, contribute thought leadership, write your darn book already! You do no one any favors, least of all yourself, for waiting for a magic moment to finally put yourself out there, to present your expertise and begin stepping into the spotlight.
We live in a time where support in all forms and at all levels of investment is more accessible than ever before. It is impossible to know everything, and completely normal to reach certain plateaus. However, consider these challenges as opportunities to get the support you need to rise up into the next version of you. It will be worth it.