How to create a professional development plan.

A professional development plan is a resource that allows you to move toward achieving your goals. Setting goals throughout life is a cycle that always restart.
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Carlos' Opinion -
Creating a Professional Development Plan.

Either at the start of the career or after some years on the same job position, some people might start thinking what would be the steps that I should take for my future.

And it is normal that when finishing the university or when a professional has the feeling of a career change, the unknown of the future comes by.

Why are people getting anxious about the future?

I also had the same anxiety of what decision to take when I finished my career.

In that time, I had the questions of either searching for a job at Monterrey, or coming back home and work at the family business.

Of course as a 24 year old, we are supposed to be a bit more mature, but the thing is that we actually are not.

And we might never really mature more than usual.

But as we get older, and different professional ways start to come out, we deal we the uncertainity.

Do we really have to decide what to do for our rest of our lives when we finish university? 

Or if we back a bit more, does deciding what we will study will define ourselves?

Certainly, not.

That is why change exist.

But some might have the feeling that they have to decide now in order to follow a perfect career.

Unless you are fully aware of the future that you want at 18, then go ahead. 

But as I have seen and lived by myself, change is a constant in people’s life.

And for me it is perfectly fine to decide a drastical change when you feel you need to make a change.

Sometimes it may be scary to take an unknown path on a professional level, but sometimes it is also a way where you can further develop yourself in new skills.

For some people who search for how to create a professional development plan, my recommendation is easy.

Visualize what are the things that you want and move forward to it.

If you want to be a writer, just start writing anything. 

In my opinion, nobody has to tell you what are you meant to be. 

But if you start working, behaving and developing yourself as if you are in the position that you want, you will slowly build up yourself to be who you want to become.

If you find obstacles on your way, either keep trying or go around.

Your inner person already knows what type of professional career you want.

It might be at certain industry, or a specific job position, or as well an entrepreneur.

Remember that a plan is worthless if there is no action.

So, when I graduated I didn’t knew that I was going to end up having experience in one of the top 50 companies in Germany.

But my actions of desiring having again an international experience, working at the family business and saving up money, applying for 3 masters, beind accepted in 1 and then landing in a student job where the ones who made possible to achieve one of the greatest proffesional experiences I had.

Another advice: yes, you can give up one day, but don’t wake up the next day giving up on the dreams that you have. 

Life brings up changes, and we never know what the future brings.

How about now to aim into being an international entrepreneur.

That could be one of my new desires.

Work, faith and patience.

How to create a professional development plan.

Setting goals throughout life is a cycle that never stops; along the way we may achieve some goals, but fail at others.

Therefore, a professional development plan is a resource that allows you to move towards achieving your goals. You are responsible for improving your professional situation by designing a plan based on your capabilities and opportunities.

A career development plan is a document that allows you to better understand what you want to achieve in your career through a series of strategic steps.

It is a guide that defines how to achieve your goals and the starting point to begin to grow professionally.

Having a structured professional projection is the basis for developing your career successfully.

Although some changes may arise during the development process, it is key to maintain the vision and if you have a plan it is just a matter of redirecting strategies.

You need a professional development plan or career plan to improve your current situation, no matter where you are now.

Therefore, you should know its importance, what are the steps to create it and how to implement it successfully.

Why is the professional development plan important?

Having plans is the best way to direct our actions towards success.

This way we avoid following the wrong route and delaying the achievement of our goals.

If you want to keep growing, you cannot do without your professional development plan, because it is the best way to measure your efforts in the short, medium and long term.

Understanding the importance of a professional development plan will help you plan strategies according to your current needs.

Therefore, the benefits can be diverse:

The first reason why it is important to create a career development plan is that you can chart a path that will allow you to focus on your aspirations. In this way, it is easier to direct your efforts towards a clear and well-defined goal.

The plan helps you get specific information about what resources are available to you and what resources you can use to make your strategies more feasible. You may have the resources to develop professionally, but if you don't list them, you may miss some.

You can achieve the job you want, enhance your skills, get a certificate or climb faster in your job when you implement a professional development plan.

It is exciting to see how you are achieving your goals and keep track of all your progress, as well as monitor actions frequently and have the opportunity to improve strategies if they are not working. This will help you stay motivated throughout your professional development journey.

If you are currently employed, creating a professional development plan will enrich your working relationships with your superiors. In addition, your boss will be aware of the professional goals you have set for yourself and will consider you for positions of greater responsibility.

When you document your goals, they are more likely to be met. Experts say that professionals who write down their goals are more likely to achieve them than those who do not. Studies even indicate that thinking about your goals and then putting them on paper activates both hemispheres of the brain.

Following your career plan goals allows you to develop specific attitudes in activities that can improve performance and thus reap long-term benefits.

If you are looking for a job, the professional development plan will be the key, because you will have a focus on what you want to achieve, according to your profile. You will also be prepared to face selection processes with a positive attitude.

What can I do to develop professionally?

Having aspirations for success at work is something that many professionals think about.

However, few decide to plan how to achieve that success.

To develop professionally, the first thing you need to do is to change your attitude towards the future and follow some important steps:

Enhance soft skills:

Soft skills are well valued in the labor field, even employers weight this type of skills in the same percentage as technical knowledge. But beyond demonstrating to others that we are resilient, committed and consistent, the idea is to improve in each of these areas.

Improve professional competencies:

As you increase in wisdom, experience and technicality, it can bring you closer to your goals. You are expected to be able to exceed job competencies and become better at problem solving, time management and teamwork.

Network with influential professionals:

It is good to follow in the footsteps of other professionals who have been successful and influential in your area of work. This will allow you to acquire more knowledge and skills to continue growing.

Master the art of communicating:

Learning how to engage in effective communication with other professionals is critical if you want to advance in your career. Many times the wrong words do not make a good impression.

Expand your network of contacts:

To be always on trend and updated, you need to keep your network of contacts updated, meeting new people that will allow you to access better opportunities.

Make your profile known in all digital channels:

Nowadays it is essential to have a presence on the web, because it is a way for others to value your work. If you do not show what you do in digital media, you will go unnoticed.

Professional Development Goals.

It is certainly essential to set goals in order to create a professional development plan.

Goals allow you to have a vision of what you want to achieve in the short, medium or long term, as long as they are feasible.

One of the goals to begin to forge professional development after obtaining a diploma is to continue training to acquire more technical skills.

It is necessary that you do not stop in your learning, because you may risk missing out on opportunities.

Career goals can be prioritized so that your development is scalable.

It is also important that they meet SMART parameters, i.e., that they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. In this regard, you may consider the following:

Obtain the skills needed for the job you are seeking or improve them if you already have a job. For example, you may want to take a diploma course to specialize in some area.

Optimize your work time, this is key to improve your productivity and allows you to have more time to perform other activities for your professional development. You can make better use of resources to reduce time on a task.

Improve networking relationships, this is a goal you can set in your professional development plan, because it is a means to connect with other professionals in your area. To make it a SMART goal you can consider attending 2 networking events in a month and meet 10 new contacts for your professional network.

Develop a growth mindset: you will often have to adopt certain behaviors that will allow you to succeed in your challenges, that is growth mindset. Knowing how to tackle problems and finding the best solution is key, while keeping your positive attitude intact.

Learn to listen and accept feedback that will allow you to improve.

Study professional development books and record your learning.

These goals are just a few examples, but ideally they should be defined according to your needs and aspirations.

It will also be essential to adjust your goals as you advance in your career, the important thing is to evaluate your progress and move forward.

Remember that professional growth is permanent, not a short-term plan.

Step-by-step for creating a professional development plan.

A professional development plan includes objectives, strategies, tasks, resources and deadlines.

But before organizing all these elements, it is necessary to make a diagnosis of your current situation to have a better vision of the path you want to follow.

The steps must be well structured with a clear vision from the beginning so that you don’t lose time halfway.

1. Assess your current situation.

The best way to start your professional development plan is to self-assess yourself in areas such as knowledge, soft and technical skills, aspirations and interests, and your financial situation.

Determining where you stand on each of these factors is crucial to mapping out your goals.

You need to do a good analysis of all your skills and detail them very well.

At this point you can put your performance in a work team, level of communication, time management among others.

Also do not forget that this is a diagnosis, therefore, you must put your weaknesses and threats.

For example, if you have a hard time communicating with your boss, if you have weaknesses in time management or if you have not achieved a specialization that will help you in your performance.

2. Define your professional objectives.

As mentioned earlier, your objectives should comply with the SMART method, to increase the likelihood of achievement.

When setting your objectives or goals it is imperative to make a prioritized list, starting with the most challenging to the easiest to achieve. 

It is also helpful to categorize your goals into short, medium or long term.

It is a time-consuming task, but when you start writing you will realize that you have a lot of things to improve and you will feel more motivated. 

A clear goal can be: achieve a promotion in the company next year.

From there, you can start designing the strategies that will be the next step of the plan.

3. Formulate your strategies.

Strategies are key to your professional development plan.

Once you have your objectives defined, it is time to get going and adjust your actions to achieve them.

At this point, the strategies indicate how you are going to act from now on to meet each proposed objective.

Let’s look at some examples:

If your goal is focused on improving your skills as a software engineer, the strategy may be to participate as a volunteer in a new advanced software project in your company.

This will allow you to acquire the technical knowledge of new technologies.

4. Identify resources.

In the same example of the software engineer, the resource would be the learning opportunities within the company.

In this sense, a resource is any element within your reach that allows you to accomplish your goals.

Places like academies, professional improvement institutions are resources.

Likewise, virtual spaces today offer many opportunities for workshops, videoconferences, webinars, master classes and more learning opportunities.

Other resources to include in your professional development plan may be mentors or co-workers who have a more senior position.

Don’t forget networking activities because they are an essential resource for your growth.

5. Determine a timeline.

To follow through on your plan, you should set deadlines that will help you progress over time.

When you meet your goals within the deadline, you will become increasingly proactive and will be able to develop a growth mindset.

You need to plan your goals annually in order to actualize your aspirations and steer your growth in the right direction.

If you are looking for a job, you should set deadlines for all your activities.

For example, in two weeks you will make 10 contacts from different companies or improve your LinkedIn profile in one week.

You can also set a two-month deadline to read three books on personal and professional growth.

In this way you acquire knowledge and at the same time you can put it into practice in your work.

6. Final Recommendations.

After organizing your professional development plan, don’t forget to measure your progress frequently, this will allow you to better align your objectives and attack weaknesses at the right time.

A professional development plan will make you a better employee and if you don’t have a job, you will get what you are looking for by applying each strategy in an organized manner.

The best thing is that it will change your professional perspective, to access better opportunities throughout your career.

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