This Year, Plan Your Professional Development From The Heart (Yes, Really)

January is a great time to consider your own growth both professionally and personally. Use this time to plan from the heart. True development is about aligning your professional goals and skills with your deep, personal sense of purpose. Resist the temptation to go through the motions with your plan.

This January, take some time to ask yourself these questions:

  • Where is my heart? Do you feel like your work is a strong expression of yourself both personally and as an instrument for change? Most jobs don’t do this perfectly, and some are a means to an end (e.g., a foot in the door in the field) and are themselves not the most fulfilling. Whatever the case may be for you, are you clear and at peace with why you’re where you are?

(Important note: Some of us are right where we’re supposed to be -- except that the work of navigating our institutions can be disheartening and exhausting, especially for those of us who hail from marginalized communities. If your institution isn’t taking good care of you as a human being -- an issue we’re working on separately from this post -- ask yourself under what conditions you’re willing to stay there.)

  • Where do I want to be? Don’t settle for the illusion of a linear career path. I almost went to law school a few years ago for that reason -- thankfully my attorney friends talked me out of it. When you state your goal for advancement, ask yourself why that’s your goal. Do you want to be a program officer because you want to access resources for your communities, or do you want to do it because you feel like it’s the next logical step?
  • What do I have to do to get closer to there? Some people love making personal five-year plans: Personally, I hate them. Before I became ED of EPIP, I made myself six-month plans. I asked myself: What do I want to learn? Who do I want to talk to? What do I want to try? And then I focused on that for the next six months. Use whatever approach works for you -- the goal is to break down your goals into actionable steps.

As you’re considering these questions, record your answers. Write them in your journal; pray on them if you pray; tell a trusted friend or colleague. Make your intentions known to yourself and to at least one other person. Good people will find ways to help you and enjoy it to boot.

The resources in our most recent newsletter should help you both consider these questions and access resources as you’re finding the answers. When your head and your heart are on the same page, this work will become far, far easier.

How do you set goals for your years? Share your thoughts and resources you like with us on Twitter at @EPIPNational


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  • commented 2018-05-20 04:08:36 -0400
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  • commented 2018-01-25 13:18:03 -0500
    Where are the newsletters?