Now is the time of the year that folks tend to get involved in performance reviews and setting goals for the upcoming year. It’s something that most folks dread doing. Rather than viewing this as a chore, look at this as a true opportunity. This is your chance to put your personal imprint on your job—and to identify those interests that can help you be better. It’s the opportune time to incorporate more of what you want to do as part of your role. One of my employees, Joan Altemose, does this every year. I’ve told her she should write a case study about this—so allow me to pass the baton to her to explain….

When setting goals for the next year, I begin by identifying what I’m interested in. It’s that simple. I don’t think about my role at this point—but instead focus on what I want to learn more about. As Jerry reminds us, “All development is really self-development.” Whatever effort I put into my job is really helping me grow and develop as a person. So it makes sense to me to identify those things that I’m really interested in and want to spend time learning more about.

The next step is to determine how my interests relate to the business. (Fortunately, my job is a good fit for my interests, talents, and passions so this is easy for me.) Approaching my development plan with this mindset on the business forces me to look outside my role and look at the bigger picture. In the past, analyzing things from a broader perspective has led me to identify areas to develop that I hadn’t thought of before. There’s another bonus to thinking in terms of how you can help the business—it makes you more valuable to your boss and the organization.

The third step is doing some research to seek out some practical ways I can develop in those areas that I’ve identified. With help from the internet, I look for:

  • Online courses
  • Courses offered at the local college (and high schools)
  • Webinars
  • Professional organizations offering specialized courses
  • Books written about the subject
  • Magazines and publications dedicated to the topic

I select those that I feel are applicable and would work well with my schedule. Then when I meet with Jerry, I can tell him those areas I’m interested in developing, how this will help the business, and identify the tools and resources I plan to use. And that’s it. It’s a proactive approach that is built on a simple 3-step process:

  1. Identify your interests
  2. Relate your interests to your job and the business
  3. Research ways to get that additional knowledge that you seek

Now I’m all set for the year. I’ve identified those areas that will benefit me and the organization. And now I have a plan to refer to periodically during the year to track my progress and to make sure I’m on still on target. I start off the year excited about what I’ll learn and how I can make a difference. It’s a great feeling to have.