What Is Professional Development? And Why You Should Bother Setting Goals for Yourself

Professional development is essentially any activity that helps you improve your skills and knowledge as a professional. It could include things like attending workshops or conferences, reading books or articles on your industry, or even simply talking to colleagues about their experiences.

The benefits of professional development can be huge. By constantly expanding your skill set, you’ll be better equipped to do your job well and meet the demands of the modern workplace. You’ll also be more marketable if you ever decide to switch careers. Plus, having clear goals for your own professional development can help you improve your performance, be more satisfied with your work, and feel like you’re making progress in your career.

The Market Is Always Changing

As a professional, you likely hear that it’s important to be “nimble” and able to adapt to the changing job market. What this really amounts to is an expectation that you should always be developing your skills so that you can do things like learn new technologies or brush up on industry standards.

This has become especially true with the rise of the gig economy and the introduction of technologies like virtual assistants and remote employees. Now, more than ever, professionals need to be up on their game in order to compete for jobs or stay relevant.

While this has always been true, the COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated this gap where the market is “demanding” new things but the organizations cannot “supply” or meet their needs.

Think about the changes that happened recently in the last few years because of the pandemic:

  • Rise of curbside pickups, at-home deliveries, etc.
  • The need for an online presence to survive (your favorite local pizza store who previously ignored Yelp and Google My Business now has to ensure their profiles are updated)
  • Learning how to be more productive and shun away distractions (kids constantly shouting during meetings or dogs barking every time someone walks in front of your house) while working from home

You Will Get Left Behind

With the market constantly changing, if you do not adapt, you will get left behind.

In the workplace, you’d often see this where management wants to see new or fresh ideas. They often rely on new hires or younger people to get these inputs from.

The reason for this is simple. Those who are new or young are often hungrier than their counterparts. They absorb new knowledge faster and are open to trying new things. They aren’t as afraid to fail as their older/veteran teammates.

That’s why they are constantly learning new skills and combining ideas.

Contrast this with the “experts” in the company who have been doing the same thing for over 10 years. In that time, the market has changed a lot.

Even looking back at just 1-2 years, if you have not questioned nor changed the way you work, you have already been left behind.

And if you delay too long, the gap between what the market (and consequently your organization) needs will be too huge.

The effect of this gap is you will become irrelevant. As a professional, this means you will either be let go. Surely, you do not want this to happen.

Take Charge of Your Own Professional Development

With all this in mind, it’s important that you realize that your professional development isn’t just something that will help you at your current job – it’s something that will help you in whatever profession you choose to go into.

It will also help you adapt and evolve as the job market changes, which is a skill everyone needs these days.

Lastly, don’t rely on other people to manage your own career. This means that if your current organization or manager isn’t interested in your professional development, you should self-start that process.

If you are not investing in yourself, nobody else will invest either.

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