Professional development is a never-ending process. It encompasses an individual’s personal growth and advancement within an organization, and enables progression along an overall career path. The key is to recognize opportunities when they become available, and capitalize on them when possible.
Three Ways to Utilize the Holiday Season to Advance Your Career Development
Career development can sound daunting during a busy time of year. However, the hectic holiday season often affords many occasions for individuals to grow. Three great ways to enable your professional growth during the holidays include the following.
1. Helping Others
For many, the holiday season is an exhausting time, due in no small part to personal commitments and proximity to the year’s end. As companies strive to wrap up projects and meet both quarterly and yearly goals, they push employees to work as hard as possible. While this pressure may be useful for organizational objectives, it can lead to burnout and a lack of work-life balance. This can be especially stressful during a time of year when individuals want to make use of their well-earned vacation time.
A great way to grow professionally is to help others during a time of need. If you notice a co-worker or manager struggling with their workload, it might benefit you to offer a helping hand. Assuming you have the bandwidth and ability to assist, you may get the chance to learn a new skill, expand your experience and work with new people. Helping those around you is also an excellent way to exhibit your initiative and highlight your team working skills.
Opportunities to help others and grow professionally are not limited to 9-5 jobs. A fantastic way to grow professionally is to volunteer. Volunteering often provides the chance for professionals to learn new skills and gain the experience they otherwise would not be able to garner in their paid role. An added bonus is often the ability to network with like-minded individuals and busy professionals that are difficult to reach during their day-job. These contacts can potentially expand your professional network, enable business and professional development and support efforts to seek out new opportunities in the future.
Networking is often an integral part of professional development. After all, professional networks enable the sharing of knowledge. Furthermore, the old saying “it’s not what you know, but who you know” became an idiom for a reason. While professionals should not rely on their network for advancement, having an excellent network can enable success.
The holiday season provides several opportunities to network. From company parties, to get-togethers with family and friends, there are chances to expand upon and maintain a professional network. As these events are often communal in nature, attendees are typically more social with one another. Plus, the festive environments can help break the ice.
Another great way to maintain your network is to send cards or gifts. Alternatively, reaching out to contacts via social sites is an easy and cost-effective way to send greetings. These methods enable you to stay in touch, without the appearance of reaching out of the blue.
Many professionals view January, and the tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions, as the appropriate time to establish professional development goals. Unfortunately, many individuals give up on their resolutions early in the year. This is often due to poor planning and unrealistic objectives.
One of the best ways to ensure that you plan well for the upcoming year is to reflect on the past. While the holiday season is busy, it often affords a few extra days-off. Utilize some of this time to think back over the previous year or two. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What did you accomplish and did you meet all of your goals?
- If you were unable to do everything that you wanted, what hindered your efforts?
- What did you enjoy (and what would you prefer to do less of moving forward)?
- What would you like to accomplish in the upcoming year or two?
- What challenges will you face and what will enable your success?
The answers to these questions will enable you to move into the New Year with sincere, well-thought-out goals in mind.