How to understand yourself to help your professional development

People often complain about their professional development. You can hear some words like No one helped me, They let me down, etc. But the one thing these people don’t understand is that the person who they have to trust for help looks at you in the mirror. You are the only person that can define how you will develop. Others around you can help you, but they are not able to define your career development path. And the most important thing you must recognize and accept is that to manage your career effectively, you need to know yourself well. When you are self-aware, you can ask for the opportunities, support, and rewards you need. You will deliver your best effort for your organization when you know your core interests, values, and strengths.  With this understanding you  can determine:

  • Which job activities are more meaningful  to you;  
  • What motivates you most; 
  • What is your preferred work  environment;
  • What are your strengths and what skills you need to develop;

But to be in charge of your career development, you need to be informed. It’s important to periodically assess your career priorities. You may easily mistake a job you do well for one that satisfies you. If you’re not engaged, you may ultimately burn out.

DISCOVER YOUR CORE INTERESTS

When you make career decisions, look to satisfy your core interests first.

Research conducted back in 2017  from  American psychology association shows that people whose jobs match their strongest interests have the greatest likelihood of satisfaction. You can usually learn needed skills; it’s harder to build a sense of connection to work that doesn’t fulfill you. A job that addresses your deep-seated interests will keep you energized and resilient.  Your core interests draw your attention, curiosity, or concern.

Researchers have identified eight common core interests. You are likely motivated by more than one. *

  • Technology application – Like to figure out how technology can be used to make life better. You are curious about how things work.
    Quantitative analysis – See data and numbers as the best—and sometimes only—way to figure out business solutions.
  • Conceptual thinking – Enjoy developing theories and thinking and debating abstract ideas.
  • Creative production – Love to turn original ideas into something tangible. You flourish in seeing and acting on possibilities.
  • Counseling and mentoring – Find it enjoyable than teaching and helping others.
  • Managing people and relationships – Thrive on dealing with people and enabling them to produce results.
  • Enterprise control – Prefer to be the decision maker. You like to be the final authority in the situation.
  • Influence through language and ideas – You love to express ideas and to persuade others.

IDENTIFY YOUR CORE VALUES

Your career will be most satisfying when it is consistent with your work values. Work values reflect the opportunities and rewards that motivate you most on the job.

  • Financial reward  – Salary, bonuses, benefits, stock options, and other opportunities for wealth creation
  • Intellectual stimulation  – Opportunities to try new things, expose yourself to a variety of ideas, and explore problems
  • Collegiality – Chances to work with people you like and admire
  • Social mission  – Ability to help communities, spread ideas, and participate in positive change
  • Prestige – Opportunities for recognition and influence
  • Lifestyle – Chances for flexibility, independence, and work/life balance

There are no wrong values, and people are motivated to some degree by many different ones. As you reflect on your work values you must identify which values are most important for you and identify career opportunities that support them. If your actual job doesn’t provide any rewards that match your values then you must discuss this with your manager.  You can also propose an adjustment if you see that there is an opportunity that to change.  For example, if you are motivated by financial rewards then you can discuss with your manager to include in your work life performance-based monetary incentives.

DEEPEN SELF-AWARENESS

Interests, values, and skills create a powerful guide to the kinds of jobs that will satisfy you and allow you to excel. You may find it easy to recognize some of your interests, values, and skills, but there may be aspects that you are less aware of. To develop a more complete picture of your interests, values, and skills, gather input from several sources:

  • Self-reflection

    Imagine you’re at the end of your career, considering your legacy. Finish these sentences: “I am most proud of….” and “I wish I had done…”

   Write down what you like best about yourself and where you struggle.

  • Colleagues, friends, and family 

To gather information from these groups, ask them several questions:

  • What seems to make me most excited?
  • What work should I stay away from, and why?
  • What is my reputation (personal, professional)?
  • What about myself I have trouble seeing (blind spots)?
  • Formal assessments

    Review past performance assessments and 360-degree feedback surveys to see how your manager and colleagues view you.

   Take a personality test to gain insight into your innate preferences.

At some time in the process of understanding yourself, you can stand in front of a very serious challenge. You may need to redefine your job or even go even far ahead by exploring new job opportunities in your or different companies. To recognize when you are ready for these steps you must watch yourself. Some of the signs that will give you  a clue that you are on the door of a change are:

  • You feel restless and boredom;
  • You are unable to  imagine the future, by being in your current role;
  • You overreact to small problems;
  • You envy of what others do for work
  • You need for a more intellectual challenge, financial compensation, flexibility, or autonomy;

CULTIVATE YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

Once you know your interests, skills, and values, you can develop your personal brand. A personal brand is how you stand out from the crowd. When you identify and project a distinctive set of skills and strengths, you’re cultivating your personal brand.

When it comes to career growth, a strong personal brand is crucial. Organizational leaders usually look beyond positions listed on resumes when deciding who to appoint on a senior position. They want to understand what distinctive contributions you can make.

To cultivate your personal brand you  will need to go  through four steps:

  • Discover how you are currently perceived;
  • Decide how you would like to be perceived;
  • Develop distinctive skills and experiences that support your brand;
  • Communicate your brand value;

EVALUATE CULTURE FIT

Your career will be more fulfilling if your organization is in sync with your workplace preferences. Review these four types of workplaces. Do you have a strong preference for one cultural style over the others?

  • The company as a community.

In this type of company, there is an all-for-one, one-for-all spirit in which trust, teamwork, and peer-to-peer loyalty are bedrock values. Customers, partners, and investors matter, but the needs of employees come first. The basic premise is that happy employees provide excellent service and produce great products.

  • A constellation of stars.

A collection of hard-driving, fiercely competitive individuals form the core of these organizations. In organizations built for stars, success relies on individual achievement.

  • Not just a company, a cause.

In these companies, the mission comes first. Employees are motivated more by their collective impact on a social cause, or by identifying with the people they serve, than by individual achievement.

  • Small is beautiful.

Some people, whether they are motivated by personal ambition or a social cause, just prefer working in small organizations. Small organizations are easier to navigate, with few obstacles between ideas and action.

When doing this assessment,  take it in your mind that as your career unfolds, your workplace preferences may change.

Organizational cultures can differ on other dimensions as well. They can, for instance, be more or less formal; more or less creative; more or less diverse. And divisions in the same organization can have quite different cultures. Understanding organizational cultural differences, and how your personal preferences may be changing, will help you make good career choices.

IN CONCLUSION:

To ensure that you get the most meaningful career in your life you need to rely on yourself. Other people, companies, friends, and communities can come to help you in a particular moment, but how will your career path go, depends on you. But before you start planning for your dream job take a sit and see where you are. By reflecting on your inner self you will be able to plan for a successful career path by your preferences and wills. To achieve that you may honestly assess the elements of yourself and the surrounding environment, to help you make the best growth plan ever. And don’t forget to frequently update that plan because as well as you also companies and environment change constantly.  

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