With the transition into remote working in 2020, all of our careers felt a jolt. It’s taken us some time but we are all finding ourselves slowly adjusting to this new work structure. Some of us may have also readjusted our career timelines. And for many of us, professional development can be seen as the need of the hour.

Think of professional development as a fitness plan, but for your career. The path you choose or its intensity are two completely subjective factors.

Here are some important questions you can ask yourselves before you start addressing what professional development should look like in 2021:

  • How much time can you devote to your professional development?
  • In what amount of time would you wish to see results?
  • Are you seeking improvement within your current job or are you looking to broaden your career horizons?

Before moving ahead, we would like to mention that professional development is an ongoing process. It’s something that people choose to work on actively and over time — as they set new goals every day.

The following methods should only be taken as general advice. It’s also important to mention, this, by no means, is an exhaustive list. And no one needs to keep doing these things every single day for professional development.

As mentioned earlier, professional development is a part of an individual’s journey towards self-improvement. And everybody’s journey is different.

Having said that, let’s look at some of the best ways to improve yourself professionally, in 2021!

Keep making new connections!

This had to be our first piece of advice for 2021. Some people swear by statements like, “Nothing helps more than knowing the right people at the right time.” And we’re one of them.

Networking is a tried and tested way to progress along your career path. It could be networking in the form of finding a mentor, who helps you when you need it the most. Or in the form of finding new opportunities, gaining insight into the kind of training you desire.

This also means that we need to recognize that every person you come across adds value to your life – professionally and personally! We come across people who inspire our work ethic every day. And we come across people that reignite motivation every day. The key is to be confident and bold. And keeping your radar wide open for people from all walks of life.

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Get yourself a mentor.

Active learning is one of the best ways to reach your goals, especially in 2021. Finding yourself a mentor is seeking knowledge from somebody who has walked the career path you want to be on.

And as a mentee, you don’t just get to learn from your mentor’s past experiences. You also avoid the mistakes that they have made, and build motivation and momentum to reach your goals.

Related: A Fresh Take On Finding Your Passion And Making A Career Change

Keep working on your time management skills

Any sort of personal or professional growth is about managing time. But time management does not only mean doing more with the time you already have on your hands. It’s about knowing there is a limit on how much you can accomplish in a day.

It doesn’t matter how motivated and productive you might be. You only have 24 hours in a day, and along with work, you need to eat, sleep and relax too!

So good time management means making the most of the first minute of your day, as well as the last.

Improving your schedule, however, wouldn’t just add to your professional growth. It would mean resetting things in your life as a whole. Routines and schedules are important for human beings to function. And time is a deadly and limited resource.

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Acing the soft-skills department.

Before we started writing this, we were convinced we’d only need to talk about soft-skills like communication. But we were quite wrong, as you may have already noticed.

However, soft-skills are still a very integral part of professional growth. Soft skills can include any skill you could take to a job outside of your current industry, and anything that makes you a better part of a team. Some of the most basic soft skills include:

  • Communication of all forms — written & spoken.
  • Transferable skills such as — leadership & research
  • Being able to recount and apply what you have learned from your past mistakes.
  • Interpersonal skills — the way you talk with your coworkers, and work on the weaknesses you may have.

These are some of the easiest things individuals can work on to progress towards being a better professional.

?Related: 6 Soft Skills That Employers Are Looking For

Read more!

We don’t just mean adding more books to your Amazon wish list. Neither do we mean add magazine subscriptions that you never ever open. A lot of the advice we have given today requires active effort.

Books are a great way to learn from other people’s experiences. There is no doubt about that. They have also become greatly accessible with the advent of e-books and PDFs and websites like Libgen (try out their extensive library — it’s crazy!)

But some exciting ways to access professional development through books include:

  • Introducing yourself to genres you’ve never tried before.
  • Reading books, papers and magazine interviews by pioneers in your industry, or people who are doing what you wish to do.
  • Thrift for books and sign up for forums that discuss books!

We could have also added self-help books to this list. Or those books that teach you how to avoid procrastination (Roomi’s suggestion: Eat That Frog! — A book by Brian Tracy that helps you get more done in less time).

?Related: Inspirational Career Books to Read During Your 20s!

Set some goals and try your best to stick to them

Professional growth is driven by the goals that we set. The best way to work with goals is to set different durations to the goals you wish to work towards. Identify not only where you want to go, but also how you wish to get there.

You can set short-term, medium-term, long-term goals – ranging from quick wins that might take a little effort to achieve, to ambitious goals that you dedicate years to.

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