Career Success in 2022

John Wooden said, "When opportunity comes, it's too late to prepare." In order to capitalize on the opportunities that present themselves in a rapidly changing career field, we must be prepared. When the promotional opportunity opens up, it is too late to start taking the classes, or obtaining the certifications, or volunteering for additional responsibilities. We must constantly be preparing ourselves today with the necessary skills and abilities to meet these future opportunities.

How prepared are you for the next opportunity, those opportunities that 2022 is sure to bring?  What is the last conference or presentation that you have been part of? When is the last time you have polished up your resume? Who are you following on social media platforms? Are you recognized as a leader in your field? What do you plan to achieve in the next twelve months?  Your honest reflection and responses to these questions should provide an idea of where you are and where you need to be in your professional development. 

If you knew that there was one magic key guaranteed to make you successful, would you want to take advantage of it? Motivational speaker and self-development teacher, Brian Tracy says, "Here is a rule that will guarantee your success - and possibly make you rich: Invest 3% of your income back into yourself."

Outside of company provided training, every person should be investing in their own professional development. The costs associated with books, classes, conferences, and certifications should be considered an investment, not an expense. The return on investment will be realized in a renewed level of motivation, fresh and new ideas, and an expanded network of professional relationships.

With the rise of online training, webinars, and zoom meetings it seems that there are more avenues of professional development that one could ever pursue. With so many options available it is easy to get trapped by "analysis paralysis" and end up doing nothing. However, by clearly defining your career goals, a pathway of professional development can be formed. Use the following steps to create your professional development action plan. 

1.  Assess where you currently are, and where you want to be.

What are your immediate and long term career goals? What are the things that you want to accomplish? What impact do you want to leave on your community, your organization, or within your industry?

2.  Determine what training is needed to achieve that goal.

Sometimes this guidance is already provided (i.e., job descriptions, requirements for promotions, internal training), other times guidance must be sought out or self-directed. It is a best practice to schedule a semi-annual meeting with your next level supervisor to discuss your near-term and long-term career goals and professional ambitions. These discussions should be viewed as an opportunity to receive insight into areas that you may need to improve upon, and guidance on the next steps needed to accomplish your career goals. Once you are clear on thi,s then you know what certifications and classes you may need, or what knowledge,skills, and abilities need to be obtained.

3. Read at least one book per year.

Statistics show that one out of four Americans will not read a single book in a year.  The most successful people are avid readers. Reading has been shown to increase focus, develop a more broad perspective, increase writing and speaking skills, and keep you mentally fresh, educated, and informed.  Select at least one book related to your career and professional goals, divide it up into easy to read sections, read one section per day to completion (i.e., ten pages a day for one month will allow you to finish reading a full 300 page book).

4.  Attend three conferences or professional development events.

These can be single day training classes, local or national conferences, or technical code/committee meetings.  If cost is a factor, search out local opportunities.  Alternatively, if you apply to be a presenter at many of these conferences, then the registration fee may be waived.

A plan for professional development and training is essential to success in any field. Do not wait for, or expect, someone else to pay for and invest in your professional development. Take responsibility for your own success, set goals, create a plan to achieve those goals, then follow your career road map.