how to build your career

How to Focus on Professional Growth in 2015

Was your 2014 as fulfilling as it was exciting? It certainly was a standout year for many companies and the professionals that drive behind them, especially for those in the online space and high technology industries.

Now, however, we’re well into the New Year and 2015 beckons. This is the year for your professional growth spurt! This is the year you hone your skills, broaden your hermeneutic horizons, and improve your value. At least that’s what your New Year’s resolution said — the problem is you don’t know how.

Interestingly, the “how” of the matter is both simple and complex. It’s as simple as following three steps: find, filter, and focus. But each of these steps can be remarkably deep:

Find and Identify Your Annual Goals

Growth is one of the most important factors for a professional — it’s so important, in fact, that within a brand, a gap between what executives expect in terms of career development and what the employer can provide can lead to retention issues. It’s so important that employees constantly yearn direction from their companies and mentors.

This is the first step: find and identify the overall goals you want to accomplish this 2015. It might be a little tricky to drill down to specifics, so break it down into chunks:

  • Identify three to five long-term goals you want to achieve. You can subtract or add to this list later once you have an understanding of how long it will take to achieve each.
  • Be realistic about the goals and time frames. There are only so many working days in a year, and time off of work is just as important.
  • Subdivide your goals into steps, with each successive step being a mini-goal of its own leading to the greater goal.
  • Then, assign realistic time frames to your subdivided goals.

Focus on the Steps You Need to Take to Accomplish Those Goals

To be able to truly focus, you also need to be specific. Like the projected growth plan of a company, you likewise need to be laser-focused on realistic, concrete goals. Luckily, unlike finding the abstract meaning of life, professional growth is a lot more measurable, for instance:

  • You want to get a 40% raise by the end of the year
  • You want to be the top performer of your team for at least half the year (remember, stay realistic)
  • You want to learn a new language and become conversant in it before year end

Luckily, there are tools you can use to minimize the time you spend on other tasks that are not your primary focus. For instance, if you still have marketing goals to achieve — which is always the case — but you also need time for other professional development goals. Using lead generation automation tools can keep your marketing going without requiring too much time from you.

Filter Out what’s Unnecessary to Your Goals

In the same vein as minimizing time on other tasks (as in the case above, by using automation solutions), you also need to clearly delineate the tasks that absolutely require your attention from those that you can simply drop.

Saying “no” is just as important a facet of focusing on your goals.

This, however, is harder than it sounds. It’s like when you’re trying to work but the internet throws an endless stream of distractions at you, preventing you from performing your tasks in a timely manner and satisfactory quality.

Only it’s much bigger than that. All the little things you do that take time away from your focus and annual goals can and will accumulate — so know when to say “no.”  Of course, don’t get carried away and ignore everything else for your goals.

Remember: find, focus, and filter — these are the simple yet complex steps you need to take to light the path to your professional growth this year.

Amy Ranta is a business consultant focusing on leadership and personal growth. She blogs on a range of topics from marketing, technology, and leadership. When not working or blogging Amy likes to travel and spend time with her Chihuahua.