This will lead to about 8% of Americans actually achieving their resolution, according to Forbes (2013).
It sometimes takes a bit more motivation than wishful thinking to learn a new skill and continue education at some point. Think about what you really want for yourself and your career, and then make it a priority to get there.
Create strong goals, follow through on each one of them, and treat it as a lifelong process.
Be SMART about your professional development plan
Most of you are probably familiar with the term S.M.A.R.T. goals, which stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. I first learned about this acronym when I completed my personal training certification in college – You need to be realistic and specific about your goals, whether they are related to fitness, career, or even family life.
We also use this concept at NR Media Group to help set goals internally and with our clients. How would you know that you are getting closer to accomplishing something if you can’t measure it?
Write and visualize your goals
Once you have a specific plan identified, write down some goals and take some time to visualize them. What will you be doing, and what will success feel like? Imagining yourself in the situation will raise your motivation, and visualizing yourself successfully completing a goal can go a long way towards actually finishing that goal.
- Taking 1 online class per quarter
- Networking with local professionals
- Attending MeetUps for a specific skill
- Read books on the particular topic
- Follow blogs/ newsletters to get daily reminders
In addition to these free online courses on professional development listed by the Muse, the web offers classes on most subjects now. If you are not familiar with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), you can refer to our MOOC post from last fall to learn more about how to use them at your company.
Continue to remind yourself
Create visual reminders and follow certain feeds to daily remind yourself of your goals. Below are a few examples of visual cues you can easily add to your routine – but don't stop them from coming up with your own creative ideas!
- A vision poster with motivational quotes, images, and end results
- Desktop background of your goal or vision
- Phone screensaver
- Sticky notes on desk/ fridge/ laptop/ lunchbox
- Symbolic reminder such as a bracelet or chain
- Communicate your professional development plan to share your progress
Your professional development plan is a lifelong process
While I feel dedicated about my goals, and professional development is very important to me, I also embrace change and try to remain flexible. Plans don’t always work out right away, but that doesn’t mean they can’t work out in the long-term. You plan should be dynamic and and will change with time, as you change in your career and priorities.
Do you have additional tips to stick to your plans?
**Editor's Note: This blog post was updated on 07/21/15 since its original publishing date in May 2015.**