The other day I was stunned when a colleague acknowledged that she refuses to do anything outside of work hours related to her career. When I asked her why, she stated she is not going to “waste” her time outside of work. I would argue that taking time for professional development and growth should be an investment in yourself and as such, should not be confined to your work hours, but instead should be a routine you develop.
- Carve out time each day.
An hour might seem like a lot, but how much television do you watch on any given day? How much time do you spend checking your social media? Can you wake 15 or 30 minutes earlier each morning? Even if you cannot spend an hour every day studying in your chosen field, make some time. Become the expert on your team, then in your office, and become that authority figure others seek out.
- Read books, professional journals and articles.
One great way to expand your knowledge is to read. Select professional books, journals, and even articles. You do not have to spend money to do so. There are tons of articles online, you can use your local library (often they can even request books and order periodicals for you) and don’t forget about the free Military One Source MWR library.
- Join a professional organization.
There are professional organizations in almost every field. If there is not a chapter near you, check out LinkedIn groups in your field. This is a great way to network and get to know the current experts. Not sure where to find an organization in your career field? You can find a list here.
- Take a class.
Your local community center, college, or university may have courses. Professional organizations often have seminars and webinars, sometimes for free. Improve your skills and learn more about your chosen career field.
- Find a mentor.
One of the best ways to develop in your chosen profession is to find a mentor. Find a mentor who is in the type of position you would like to be in some day. Ask for their guidance and advice. Be willing to go out of your comfort zone and take their advice to stretch and grow.
Continuing to grow and learn does not just happen on the job, be willing to spend some time on your personal growth and development. This investment in yourself is an indication of how you value your own professional career.