A professional development plan is your map of where you are headed in your career. Everyone should have a professional development plan to improve personally and grow professionally.

Professional growth is up to you. It’s not the responsibility of your employer, though many employers are willing to invest in your professional development if there is a benefit to the company.

So, how to create a professional development plan? Follow these 6 smart tips and you’ll be on your way to achieving your career dreams.


Set Smart Goals


One popular method of setting professional development goals is the use of the S.M.A.R.T system. This means your goals are: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. As a result, you’re more likely to achieve a goal.

As an example, you may be a Marketing Manager wanting to improve your social media marketing knowledge. This is how you would set your SMART goal.

Specific: Complete the Certificate of Social Media Marketing
Measurable: Certificate of Attainment on completion of the online course.
Achievable: Enrol and complete all coursework
Relevant: Social media marketing skills will enhance my ability to market my business online.
Timely: Must complete all coursework within a 6-month timeframe.


Set Your Priorities


There are probably many priorities in your life that vie for attention, from parenting to social and sporting commitments but don’t forget to prioritise your own personal and professional development.

You need to set aside time in your week to achieve your SMART goals. After all, those who fail to plan, plan to fail. The time you set for professional and personal development should be sacred and nothing, aside from an emergency, should come first.


Make Technology Work For You


The popularity of online courses is, in part, due to the busyness of our lives. When you enrol in an online professional development course you can structure your life around the coursework, and not the other way around.

Many education providers have invested in state-of-the-art eLearning platforms that allow you to study from the comfort of your home when it’s convenient.


Hold Yourself Accountable


To hold yourself accountable to your professional development goals, you’ll need to adopt an accountability mindset. This means you must stay true to yourself, even when obstacles get in the way of you achieving a goal. In essence, you must be prepared to find the motivation to do difficult things.


Keep a Goals Journal


One of the best ways to hold yourself accountable is to keep a goals journal that records all your SMART professional and personal development goals. Try to keep the journal with you throughout your day and refer to it when you’re feeling demotivated or need a boost.


Reward Your Effort


What better way to boost your motivation that a reward! Choose a reward that helps support your professional development goal. If like in the earlier example, you work in marketing and want to improve your social media skills, a new iPhone might be a suitable reward for finishing your course. That way, you can track social media on your phone.


Are You Ready to Commit to Your Professional Development?


It’s not easy to stay the course with a professional development plan, but it’s worth the effort when you achieve your goals. In a study, reported by Forbes, only 3% of Harvard graduates wrote down their goals. This 3% was found to earn, on average, 10 times as much as the other 97 percent of the class combined.

So, what are you waiting for? Write down your professional development goals and start working towards your dream career or business today.

Haley Williams

Content Writer at Australian Online Courses
Haley Williams is a Content Writer for Australian Online Courses.
Haley Williams

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