5 Ways to Foster Career and Personal Growth -

5 Ways to Foster Career and Personal Growth

By Terry Daffin

Change is growth. This is a simple statement that most people can probably agree on. Yet many of us resist because change is hard or we’re afraid or it’s uncomfortable.

I am entering my 35th year in the IT industry and I’ve experienced a tremendous amount of change not only in the technology industry, but in my professional career overall. Some change was planned and controlled (taking a new job or moving across the country), but many of the changes were not planned (learning a new programming language or the company I worked for going out of business) and I was forced to react and adapt to the change.

The one element that moved me through all of this change was my love of learning. With each change, there was something new to learn. There were things I wanted to learn and things I had to learn to survive. But continuous learning was the key to success each time. With each change, I experienced growth—new job, new responsibilities, new ideas, new people, new perspectives. Ultimately, each change was a stepping stone to a new challenge and success was made possible through continuous learning.

Continuous learning is not difficult, but it takes planning and discipline. Here are five things you can do today to plan for growth in your personal life and professional career.

  1. Read every day. This sounds simple, but with so many life distractions, reading is sometimes difficult to do daily. Make time to read something you are passionate about and something related to your career goals; pick a source with detailed information about a subject you are interested in learning about. I use a both Flipboard and Medium because they allow me to choose my areas of interest. Make your own schedule to read when it works best for you personally.
  2. Write and Share. After I read something, I like to jot down some notes about it. This helps me remember what I’ve read. You could write a review or a blog post about something you’ve read. Share it with someone and talk about it. Teach some one what you’ve just learned. You also might think about speaking as a presenter on the subject at your work or a conference.
  3. Practice What You Learn. If you really want to learn something new, practice it many times over to become proficient at new skill. For example, I enjoy photography and cooking. Easy to practice, right? Examine the result, get feedback, make adjustments, and do it again. Practice may be more difficult in the workplace, but if you let supervisors and co-workers know that you have something new you’d like to try, you may find that they will accommodate you and may even participate and give you feedback needed to make adjustments. Remember, don’t give up! Learn from practicing and experimenting and make adjustments necessary to produce a better product.
  4. Join a Group or an Association. This a fantastic way to grow when learning something new. I belong to several photography groups online that plan “get togethers” to practice techniques. It’s a great way to learn and get feedback without fear of failure because many of the participants are there for the same reason. There are hundreds of professional organizations that would welcome you as a participating member. If you are an entrepreneur for example, you might join The Startup Grind which is an organization that puts on events centered around new startups and innovation. There are hundreds of local chapters and certainly one near you. Groups and Associations are a terrific way to network with others who share your passion.
  5. Enroll in a Training Course. Training, whether online or in a classroom setting, is an essential part of growth. You can find any number of free courses on just about anything you want to learn, but usually the best training courses will cost you something. Training courses provide you with experts who can share details related to a topic with which they have personal experience because they have typically been practicing their craft for many years. These courses often come with a certification or an achievement credential and are valuable for your growth as a professional. Even if you have a higher-level degree from a college or university, training courses can give you valuable insights into your field of choice, making you more valuable to your organization. The growth potential is immeasurable as you will be looked upon and often called upon as the expert. This step can catapult you toward your ultimate professional goals.

Change is a part of life and you will grow while going through whatever change you experience. To maximize growth, it is essential to develop a plan and the discipline to learn continuously. You will be happy you made the investment.

About the Author: Terry Daffin is an Executive Consultant within KAI Partners. He has worked in the IT industry for more than 30 years and has over 25 years of project management experience. As a public sector consultant in the health care industry, Mr. Daffin assisted in the development and implementation of Project Management Offices that include project management, service management, lean agile and traditional product development lifecycles, and governance processes. He has been an innovation advocate and evangelist for 15 years and has implemented innovative processes for projects that he has been engaged on since 2001. Mr. Daffin currently works as the Project Manager of the KAIP Academy, KAI Partners’ training division and is working to expand KAI Partners’ coworking organization into an innovation incubator/accelerator focused on connecting innovative start-ups and the public sector.

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