Like Matthew McConaughey in a car commercial, we'd all like our journey down the road of professional development to be smooth. We hope that our professional selves will just evolve seamlessly over time, taking into account lessons learned and triumphs won.
In reality, we've often got some major roadblocks between us and that ultimate goal. However, like an expert driver on a challenging course, we can learn to deal with and get past what's in our way.
Here are three quick things to think about. Take next week to analyze whether or not you're grappling with these obstacles:
1. Inability to manage time: When your goal is just to get through the day, you're not managing your time — your time is managing you. Time management is essential to professional development. Not only do you need to devote time to learning and growing as a professional (more on that later), time problems can quickly compound. Before you know it, you're showing up habitually late or missing commitments as things fall through the cracks.
Learning to manage your time is not as simple as saying "I need to pay more attention to how I use my time" — although that's a good place to start. Our friend Jones Loflin is an expert in the subject of time management, and has tips to try immediately, as well as practices to adopt. We love his recent article on the connection between emotional intelligence and time management. Read it to assess where you're at in terms of emotional procrastination and more. (If you do, you'll be checking number three off your list!)
2. Engaging in only "bottom line thinking": OC President Kerri Garbis is fond of the phrase "old ways don't open new doors". When you only engage in bottom line thinking ("Who cares how it happened, the job got done/sale got closed/task got finished"), you're robbing yourself of the opportunity to discover how to improve a process or experience.
Bottom line thinking keeps you in an achievement rut. You may be accomplishing things, but are you doing so in the way that you want to? You may find that you struggle to open new doors or break through to new levels when you focus entirely on product, not process. Start by asking yourself, "When I approach a task, what's more important to me: getting it done, or getting it done well?" and "If I could improve one thing about the way that I work, what would it be?"
Actors always talk about process, because we're taught early on that if your focus is on delivering an opening night performance on the first day of rehearsal, you miss out on the discoveries along the way that could make a serviceable production transcendent. Escalate your professional development by steering clear of the achievement rut and bottom line thinking.
3. Avoiding new knowledge: Career innovations happen at such a rapid pace now, that it can be hard to keep up. What are you doing to keep your skills fresh and on the cutting edge? It's important to continually make new knowledge about what you do. Are there blogs you read (like this one and Jones's, above!) that keep you questing for improvement? Do you schedule training for your team to help them (and you) grow? Is there a new platform or social outlet you might want to embrace? However you choose to do it, keep learning. Professional development is an ongoing process, worthy of your time, investment, and commitment.
Want to make some new knowledge? Join our Presentation Skills for Managers book club!