As you are thinking about setting personal goals for the year, it is a great time to consider your career and development goals as well. It is easy to get into our routine and focus on the here and now, forgetting that we need to “own” our career. Yet, to really “own” our career, we need to be intentional in planning our career by creating and executing a development plan.
Here are some tips for creating an effective development plan:
Consider your long-term career goals, as well as short-term learning and development activities that will help you achieve those career goals. Do you want to gain additional expertise or depth in your current role or area of responsibility? Would you rather broaden your experience by expanding your skills and knowledge in other areas? Or are you considering gaining skills that will allow you to advance in your level of leadership? What will allow you to move one step closer to your career goals – deepening your expertise, broadening your experience, or building leadership skills?
Include your manager in development and career conversations. Your manager should be invested in your development and helping you grow your career. By having regular conversations about your development and career goals, your manager can identify on-the-job and formal learning opportunities for you. Your manager will have greater insight into stretch assignments and potential career moves and can help you identify necessary steps toward achieving your goals.
Focus on integrating your development actions into your daily activities. Oftentimes development plans are full of formal learning opportunities, and yet the year goes by without much progress. While many people enjoy learning in a classroom or online, the best kind of learning for adults is by doing! So, consider how you can integrate your development actions into your daily routine. Rather than just focusing on acquiring new knowledge or skills, focus on DOING or practicing the skills or behaviors.
Gather feedback and evolve your plan along the way. Your development plan is not a one-and-done document. It is always evolving as you make progress, shift your interests or goals, and gain experiences. Make a point to revisit your development plan regularly and solicit feedback from your manager and others who may be able to support you in your journey. One way to gather feedback is through a psychological assessment, which can provide you greater insight into your values, interests, motivations, and interpersonal style. By increasing your self-awareness, you can be more intentional in your behaviors, including your development actions.
One very beneficial tool is the DRiV, a 20-minute assessment that measures an individual’s motives, values, and habits – their drivers. By understanding what drives you and what drains you, you can create increased self-awareness and intentional behavior change. It also provides insight into where you may want to focus your development actions or how you may want to shape your career goals – helping you learn what motivates you rather than what saps your energy or causes dissatisfaction.