Category Archives: Development Plan

The earlier you start on this, the better for your career

Procrastination exacts a heavy price. And there is one area of life in which delay is particularly costly.

Stephen Covey writes of “quadrant two” activities in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Quadrant two is the area devoted to those important things in life that we never really seem to get around to doing. They are important, but they are not urgent.

Planning and goal setting are good examples of quadrant two activities. What could be more important than defining a vision of success and knowing where you’re going in life? But most of us do not take the time to plan our career and write down goals.

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Simple Tips, Tricks, and Techniques to Achieve Success

I have diligently searched for the secret of success and fulfillment. Ideally, as  I’m sure many would agree, this should be a quick, fast-tracked way to skip all the hard work and drudgery.

Finally, I have solved the mystery. Are you ready? Here it is:

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Read Broadly to Open Your Mind to New Ideas and Become a Leader

I am putting together a “reading list” for the year. Having a blog about career development, coupled with a desire to advance in my profession, gives me motivation to read voraciously. I can learn from a broad array of authors and genres. I can write reviews. I can apply the insights I gain. I can follow up with additional blog posts about my successes and lessons learned.

My reading list includes books about the 80/20 principle, which states that 80% of our results come from 20% of our efforts. A corollary principle is that 80% of our efforts are rather wasteful since they only produce 20% of our results.

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Exercise Your Knowledge to Develop Strong Habits

We have opportunities to access information like never before. No matter what topic, just type in a few search terms in Google and you have a wealth of resources. However, I have noticed that it’s challenging to turn this knowledge into practical success.

After all, anyone can get the information because it’s so readily available. Very few are able to turn their knowledge into something truly significant.

I can read a book or website about exercise. That’s great. But it’s not until I do some “heavy lifting” that I can achieve the objectives of exercise. Learning about exercise is not the same as doing it.

Similarly, I can read great books on leadership. Or I can find resources on sales and negotiation. But unless I find creative ways to put my knowledge into practice systematically, I see only minor changes and successes.

This is because of the principle of inertia. My habits of thought and behavior kick in, and unless I take control of changing my habits, my development only will happen sporadically and randomly. Sometimes the development will be for the better — after all, I will learn and grow through new situations and experiences. Sometimes the development could be for the worse if I allow my skills and knowledge to get “rusty.”

The way to achieve success is to balance attaining knowledge with practical application. Do this systematically and incrementally. Build small pieces at a time.

Here is an example: I once went to a four-day training course that was designed to teach a specific skill set. I thought I knew something about the subject matter, but I found out that much of my time initially had to be spent unlearning bad habits that I had developed.

I found that I gained a reasonable grasp of the “basics” relatively quickly, but this only came through intense repetition. Before I was an “expert” at these “basics,” I had to move on to more advanced concepts and techniques. In the process I kept ingraining and reinforcing the “basics” that I learned.

At the end of four days I was amazed at my level of proficiency due to the knowledge-based training (lectures and demonstrations), as well as much practical hands-on, real life experience.

We shortchange ourselves when we do not find ways to put our learning into practice. One effective strategy for securing knowledge retention is to lecture to a wall. That’s right, make sure you understand the concept so thoroughly that you can articulate it coherently, even if no one else is listening. Another effective strategy is to write. While you’re at it, you might as well share what you are learning and writing online with a blog.

Beyond explaining what you know, you have to practice it. This requires creativity. But start small, and build more advanced concepts upon your grasp of the basics. Be systematic about this, and do a little bit each day. If you set yourself on the right trajectory and stick with it you will be amazed at the long-term results.

Four Tips for Career Blogging Success

Financial professionals can set themselves apart from the pack by having their own blogs or websites. Just as a successful business marketing strategy typically involves websites and social media, a successful personal branding and professional development strategy requires a website.

I have written several posts about the importance of writing. In addition to writing down agreements, goals, mission and vision statements, policies and procedures, roles, responsibilities, and expectations; systematically and routinely writing down personal reflections and lessons is invaluable.

In the future I will write about job interviewing tips, including using the STAR method for answering behavior based interview questions. For now, it is helpful to reflect on the type of characteristics that potential employers seek in candidates. Then use your professional blog as a platform to detail your understanding and attainment of the knowledge, skills, and abilities required for the job you desire.

Here are four types of posts to write on your professional career blog, as recommended by personal branding and career development expert Pete Kistler:

  • Growth – Kistler says, “Write a story about a class, a project or a job where your thinking shifted. Where you learned something that changed the way you think, behave, manage teammates or solve problems. Always portray the experience in a positive light. Then, concretely describe how you will apply what you learned to your next company.”
  • Expertise – Kistler recommends, “Relate the lessons you’ve learned to specific projects or experiences you’ve had, so employers will see that the expertise listed on your resume is grounded in reality. Then, describe how you will apply this knowledge to your next company.”
  • Knowledge of current events – Kistler recommends reading experts’ blogs within your industry. Summarize the knowledge you gain and how you can benefit your next company with it.
  • Ability to deliver – Kistler says, “The point is to give proof of your past performance. Provide the background story about each project and only upload your absolute best work.” Share Youtube videos, Powerpoint presentations, and other tangible evidence of your accomplishments.

Blogging will help you document what you are learning and experiencing. As you write you will ask questions, think through issues, and be sure you understand them as you write them down for others to read. You will then be better equipped to converse about the topics at work, in job interviews, during networking events, and so forth. In fact, blogging will provide a platform for networking, reaching people, and enhancing the expertise of others within your industry.

If you commit to blogging long-term, you will systematically force yourself to always learn and discipline yourself to constantly write. Much like having school assignments that you must complete whether you like it or not, having a blog gives you an opportunity to put pressure on yourself to grow and develop.

Use the four topics as a springboard to reflect on past experiences and lessons. Start summarizing your lessons learned and how you will apply them to your future job. It is not hard to set up your own blog to share this information and set yourself apart in your professional career.