5 resolutions for professional growth

Top 5 Resolutions For Professional Growth in 2021

There’s nothing like a new year to give us the opportunity to take a fresh look at our career and set some resolutions for professional growth. The pandemic has brought many challenges, but, it has also created new opportunities in the forms of skill gaps and new technologies. We recently wrote about the top skills employers will be looking for in 2021, but how do you get there – and what about what you are looking to achieve this year? From hard skills to finding some joy in your professional life, here are the top 5 resolutions for professional growth in 2021.

Top 5 Resolutions for Professional Growth This Year

1. Learn A New Tech Skill

You probably knew we were going to say this! In the past, gaining professional development opportunities and certifications meant taking time away from work or leaving your job entirely. Thanks to advances in technology and the critical role of online learning during the pandemic, there have never been more opportunities to learn hard skills, gain certifications and create your own path to your professional goals.

The tech sector especially is filled with opportunities, like cybersecurity, cloud computing, and the exploding vertical of Internet of Things (IoT). Even if it’s just been awhile since you’ve spent time in your go-to spreadsheet program or graphic design platform, refreshing a hard skill is a great way to increase your value to a potential employer and invest in your own professional growth.

2. Find An Opportunity To Collaborate

We can get a bit siloed and stuck in our roles, particularly when we’re working remotely, which is a reality for more professionals than ever in response to the pandemic. It’s more critical than ever to find reasons to connect with other people and to expand our network, increasing our exposure to new ideas, new perspectives and new opportunities. While collaborating with other people, you’ll invariably pick up new skills and interests that will benefit you in your own work, or perhaps inspire you to shift to a role or field you had not considered before.

Even if it’s difficult to find a natural opportunity for collaboration, consider participating in an initiative at your organization or led by a professional resource in your industry. If one doesn’t exist, consider starting one! From volunteering and mentoring to sitting on a committee or task force, these opportunities expand our perspectives and open new doors in our professional lives as well as giving us opportunities to try out a leadership role and gain visibility in our organization.

3. Always Be Learning

We strongly believe that eLearning nurtures lifelong learning, which increases professional success and personal happiness, too. The great news is, it’s easy to fit learning into your life if you look for opportunities. Short on time? Microlearning allows you to learn in digestible, 2-5 minute chunks. On the road? Mobile learning harnesses our always-at-the-ready devices to participate in learning opportunities that are designed to be used anywhere. Feeling isolated? Gamification and social learning provide fun, lighthearted experiences that allow us to connect with others and find some whimsy and joy in learning.

However you choose to learn, remember that learning is a key to professional success, not extra-credit. If you aren’t keeping up, you’re being left behind, and you have every right to give yourself the gift of continued education!

4. Monitor & Track Progress

They say “what gets measured gets improved,” and it’s true – data is our friend when we want to achieve a goal. Set some actionable, quantifiable goals and track your progress. Many online learning courses do this for you, by letting you know how much you’ve completed and tracking the estimated time you have remaining. In professional evaluation, the right tools help employees to feel empowered, not judged or micromanaged. But, even if your goal doesn’t have a built-in tracking system, there are so many ways to track and monitor progress. A few examples are:

  • Downloading an app like Streaks that tracks how many days in a row you have completed a task like reading for 10 minutes or going for a walk.
  • Marking an X on a calendar every day you complete your goal, encouraging you not to break the streak.
  • Sharing a spreadsheet with a friend, which can increase our feelings of accountability.
  • Go public: tell your boss, coworkers, family or friends what you’re doing and check in with them on your progress.

Find you aren’t staying on track? Make a change. Consider why you’re finding it hard to achieve your goal and adjust it – it might be as simple as making your goal more action-oriented (“read for 15 minutes every day” versus “read more books”) or you might be more motivated if a friend signed up for the same eLearning course you’re taking.

5. Don’t Forget To Make Room For Fun

Our perspective on our careers can become very serious and our efforts to be professional can make us lean a little robotic. It’s so important that we find joy in our work – maybe not every day (it is called “work” after all!), but autonomy, independence and a sense of meaning can go a long way to removing our sense of it being all about clock-punching. As you think about how you can find more joy in your work here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Take on a passion project
  • Take a course in something totally unrelated to your field
  • Sign up for a course with a coworker or friend
  • Start a professional book club
  • Have coffee (or zoom-coffee) once a month with a different person whose job interests you
  • Find an expert and follow their work, participating in online discussions around the topic they educate on

This Is Your Year!

Every year is an opportunity to gain more satisfaction in our working lives. We spend 90,000 hours, an entire third of our lives, at work; we owe it to ourselves to make it satisfying, exciting and rewarding. While other resolutions can fall to the wayside, one thing is certain: investing in yourself is never something you’ll regret. Picture yourself one year from today: where do you want to be? Now’s the time to set goals and get there.