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You are sitting on your workstation, wondering if your skills are getting dated. You try to update your resume and are hit by the hard truth: “You haven’t learnt anything new in a long while and neither have you challenged yourself enough to be mentioned in the resume.” If that is the case, then you need to look for new personal opportunities to help you develop yourself.
It is essential to look for professional opportunities to help you excel in your career. Almost all jobs eventually get stagnant and turn into a routine. Failing to realize when your personal development is on a standstill can result in you in eventually becoming a commodity at you workplace. I have seen very qualified people destroy their future because they stopped looking at developing themselves and did not take the opportunities to help them improve their skillset. Spending too many years at the same job and the same position can make you happy and content in your “comfort zone”. However, it is these years of being in the comfort zone that can make it impossible for you to revive your career.
Personal development is what you call a lifelong process. With personal development, you are able to assess your qualities and skills, consider how they are helping you in your life and allows you to set goals to maximize your potential. Even though the early life development really shapes you up as adults, it should never stop there. Irrespective of your age, you can develop and polish up skills to lead a better professional and personal life. Identifying personal opportunities is nothing more than identifying areas of personal development.
Places to Look for Personal Opportunities
So what kind of opportunities should you look for? There can be many things that can help you improve your chances of excelling in career, but you can find yourself in a great position if you can apply these 7 places to identify opportunities for yourself:
- Look at your networking opportunities. Identify all the places where you can meet relevant people who can help you advance in your career. It might be that you or any of your friends already know of some good networks. Networking is an art and doing it well can help you greatly. Here is why your networking efforts might be performing badly.
- Educate yourself by taking professional classes. While it is great if your employers pay you to get a new certification or credential, it should not be stopping you from getting one. I know people who have never had a formal education related to their careers but who did pass professional certifications in relevant fields to help them get a better understanding of the theory behind what they do. It is never too late to learn something new or to get sound education to help you professionally.
- Another opportunity for personal development is in volunteering. The best thing about doing volunteer work is that it helps you get a taste of something different, helping you decide if taking it professionally as a career will be something that you would like or not. Volunteering is also great for unemployed individuals, as it helps you connect with relevant people in the field and offers you the chance to prove your skills. You might just be getting ready for a full time job in the same field at the end of your volunteering program.
- Becoming a consultant is an opportunity open to almost everyone out there. Therefore, if you have spent too many years working full time for someone, you might like to look at your opportunities of offering professional consultancy to businesses. You might want to look at your former bosses and/or colleagues to see if they need professional support with some projects. This can really be your opportunity to start a consultancy business.
- A surefire way of identifying new opportunities for yourself can be on job posting website. These websites can help you understand the kind of job titles that are more in demand. Be creative in your searches and set the filters to broad. While you should apply for jobs that you are qualified for, I will also recommend you trying your luck with job postings on things that you think you can enjoy. If you get the interview call, you might just be able to impress the interviewer.
- Have you are a-game on social media platforms, especially LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Keep your profiles updated on all 3 of these platforms and regularly check for new opportunities. Depending on your career, you can decide on whether to keep your profile more professional or more creative. If you are active on social media, I am sure you will come across many opportunities and will be approached by others with proposals.
- Finally, keep a tap on the market trends. Markets these days are rapidly evolving. To be successful in this age, you need to stay relevant. Look for trends that might be suited for you. Read blogs and reports on credible websites like Forbes, The Muse and Harvard Business Review to see if it is time for you to learn something new or change your job.
The Importance of Identifying Personal Opportunities.
To understand the need for identifying personal opportunities and the importance of personal development, you just need to look at Abraham Maslow’s process of self-actualization. Maslow (1970) suggested that each individual has an in-built need for personal development. This occurs through a process of self-actualization. How much a person develops depends on how certain needs are met and how these needs are structured in a hierarchy. As soon as one level of needs are satiated, you move to the next level of needs. Hence, to put things in context, you will only look for personal opportunities that will satisfy your current level of needs. Let us look at the 7 levels of this hierarchy:
- The lowest level is of physiological needs for food, drink, sleep and sex, which can also be regarded as the basics for survival.
- Above that are the needs for personal safety and security, in both, economic and physical sense.
- Third comes the need for belonging and being loved.
- Next up comes the need for self-worth and self-esteem. This level is perhaps the closest to linked with identifying personal opportunities.
- On fifth level is the need to understand. This is a rather abstract level with ideas such as curiosity and the search for the purpose of one’s existence.
- At sixth comes the aesthetic needs, such as symmetry, order and beauty.
- Finally, on the top is the need for self-actualization. It refers to self-fulfillment and the desire to reach one is full potential to be considered a unique human being.
Managing Personal Opportunities
Following are some of the key steps that you can take to manage your personal development opportunities effectively:
- Identifying your Personal Vision. You need to find out why you want to look for opportunities. It might be that you are just doing this as a fun exercise, or it might be that you are taking this more seriously. If there is a strong purpose, it will help you in keeping yourself motivated to improve and develop yourself.
- Plan Your Personal Development. The moment you are clear of the place you want to be in, you should start planning on how to get there. It helps to draw a personal development plan to stay focused and know exactly what kind of opportunities you need to look at to achieve your goals.
- Get Started with the Improvements. I cannot stress enough on the need for actual actions, no matter how small they may be. Many times people simply do not go beyond planning the improvement phase, which is just useless without you actually doing something about it. Take actions and start becoming your better version by using the places of identifying personal opportunities stated above.
- Keep a Record of Your Progress. It will help you to keep a record of how much you develop. Writing down a list of key developments that have happened in the past week/month will help you check areas where you slack and what you can do to be more effective.
- Review and Revise Personal Opportunity Plans. It is definitely not a “one size fits all” kind of exercise. We all are different in our own ways and we all have different jobs and career aspirations. Therefore, you need to reflect on your experiences and your activities to guarantee that you learn from them. It will allow you to revise things that might not be working for you. For example a friend of mine, who is a doctor, finds social networking to be less effective for personal growth but finds that networking events have really helped him in finding new opportunities in his community.
I am sure this blog will help you in your quest for identifying personal opportunities. Do you have exercises and/or methods of your own that help you in personal development? Let me know in the comments section below. Also, make sure you check our blogs on Identifying your Personal Strengths ,LINK> and Why Meditation Can Be the Key to Personal Development.