Every year, we have goals, or new year resolutions.

Goals are helpful and I encourage them too, but your professional development is what I want to major on.

What are your plans to improve your skills this year?

I have spent the last 5+ working years managing various kinds of recruitment for different sizes of companies across major sectors. I currently lead the recruitment team of a people development company in Nigeria and by privilege of the work I do, I have interacted with leaders in the corporate world. 

The first insight I want to leave you with is this:

There are Jobs in this country! There will always be Jobs in this country!

But here is what you need to know; There are jobs and there will always be Jobs for people who have relevant skills in any economy.

The fact that you are educated with a degree doesn’t qualify you to have a Job. This is a mistake many young people seem to make. What qualifies you is that you have the relevant skills that fits what is required in the marketplace at a particular point in time.

Talking about what is required; there was a time where what society needed was just huntingfishing and farming skills. These were the major occupations of our great grandparents. They were either hunters, farmers or fishermen. Society needed just that, and that was what they provided.

But as society evolved, other SKILLS were now required and some other skills were no longer required.

This is what separates leaders: Whether you are 25 years or 45 years old, Skills bring success. You must realise that what will make you relevant is having the skills that are relevant in your field or society. That is how we live in this world.

So, this year, one of the questions you should be asking yourself is: How can I ensure I am more valuable and have more relevant skills at the end of the year?

That is what professional development is. It is an important aspect of your personal growth and must be planned every year.

In my experience, Professional development can take three main forms:

learningrelationships, and creating

Depending on the phase of your life and career and your other goals for the year, you may want to prioritise one more than the others.

I’ll explain each of them in depth in subsequent articles but let’s start with learning.

Creating your learning goals starts with identifying the gaps in your current knowledge or experience. Is there an area in your field you’re not sufficiently familiar with? For example, If you recently moved into a new job or you just started your career, you may want to first do basic research so you can be conversant with the general literature and skills of the field.

I remember the first time I officially handled a leadership position in 2010, I realised how little I knew about leading and started spending a bit of my time every week reading about leadership and people development just to shape my thinking in the field.  Till date, I set an annual learning goal targeted towards shaping my leadership skills in my career as a consultant.

Imagine you just got into a career in Finance, what literature should you be spending time reading every day or every week this year, to shape your thinking and be conversant in the general lingua of your field?

Or there may be particular skills you want to pick up or interesting trends you see in your field that you’d like to learn more about. From there, you can chart out the best method to learn – whether it’s taking a course (either in-person or online), independent reading, or listening to podcasts.

If this makes sense to you, your assignment therefore is to create learning goals for yourself this year. Don’t learn by mistake. Design your learning. 

Start by highlighting the skills required to lead in your field and then identifying the gaps in your current knowledge or experience so you can design your own learning.

To make this easier for you, I have created a free skills assessment worksheet, you can click here to download and print it for your use.

In my next article, I’ll share the next insight on relationships.

What are you focused on learning this year? What skills would make you valuable and relevant in your field this year?

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