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How to take charge of your own learning (at work and in life)

The place of work is changing faster than ever and it will only increase in speed as time progresses. Many companies have a hard time keeping up with changing technologies and thus they go bankrupt and shut down altogether. This is due to various factors, of course, but a big part of it is due […]

The place of work is changing faster than ever and it will only increase in speed as time progresses. Many companies have a hard time keeping up with changing technologies and thus they go bankrupt and shut down altogether. This is due to various factors, of course, but a big part of it is due to lack of digital adaptation, lack of ability of creating strong teams to move things forward when markets get challenging, and changes in economies, etc. On the other hand, there are also individuals who are simply becoming irrelevant in their jobs because they did not manage to upgrade their skills, keep up with the growth of their roles, among other factors.

As we get older, we tend to be set in our ways and refuse to accept that there are many things we don’t know and with technological advances we don’t often keep up with what is needed to continue in our roles/industry. This leads to becoming irrelevant. The first step is to accept the following: you don’t know what you don’t know, keep an open mind, be curious, listen, get a mentor who is digi-savvy, keep upgrading your skills set, regardless of where you are in your career.

When it comes to your career growth, you need to take responsibility for your own development, even if your company is not investing in you. Leaving your personal and professional development to an external party is a sure way to be left behind in the world of work/life. Your career and life are 100% your responsibility. Your current situation is a result of the choices you made. To ensure you are making mindful choices and remaining a strong player in the world of work, consider the following two tips.

2 things you can do to avoid becoming irrelevant

1.    Stay curious. Stay up to date on market trends, especially in your area of work. That does not necessarily mean only focusing on your industry but perhaps your area of work that is likely to fit into many industries, if you think about it.

You can do the following:

  • learn a new skill or two
  • be aware of what will be needed in the future job market, what new technologies are coming out that you need to be knowledgeable about
  • read up on the news, updates from the market, reports on different industries, attend conferences/events
  • enroll in a program to get further education (executive courses, certifications, skill building courses) – money is no longer an obstacle to learn with platforms like Coursera and Udemy that are available and cover many areas of knowledge.
  • Read, read, read – your brain is a muscle, you need to exercise it. Read on topics that are different, expand your view and perspective
  • Maintain a healthy life style – in order to make sure we are curious about the outside world, we need to maintain curiosity in our own minds and bodies. Are you being your best self physically and mentally? Have you discovered what else you can do when it comes to maintaining a healthy, vibrant, and energized body? Stay with a regular exercise program, eat healthy, explore your body, protect your energy, take time to meditate, take vacation, do things you enjoy, write a journal.

One mistake I often see people make is have laser focus on their particular role in a particular industry. Which is a good thing but it needs slight expansion as this is no longer an option. You need to be aware of other industries, how you can potentially be a good fit in the possibilities that things might change in current your work. I will give you a real life example — I had a client who reached a VP of Operations level working for a large Oil & Gas company handling large teams, huge budgets and covering a significant region. He was making a very comfortable salary. One day, his company went through a series of layoffs which included him. When we started to discuss options of entering a new industry, he told me (rephrased) – Elena, I have been in a tunnel vision, all I know is this industry, and I didn’t put in the time to network externally, because I had a very high paying role and life was good, I didn’t think I had anything to worry about. And, to be honest, I was so busy in my role I didn’t even have time.

There are many stories very similar to this one.

Two things to take away from this example – 1You always need to make time to maintain/expand existing networks and to create new ones. Being too busy in your current job is no longer an excuse. You simply must make time for building and nurturing relationships. It can be in group gatherings, it can be a phone call, an email, a holiday greeting. 2. Don’t get too comfortable. You have to keep learning, keep an eye out for opportunities, stay active in your industry and externally as well. This can be done by attending various events, participating in discussions, panel presentation, talks, etc. Keep your personal brand out there!

2.    Connect. As life gets busy and we get caught up in our work, with our phones/iPads, we forget how to connect with others. We neglect relationships around us; we tend to only focus on business outcomes and often forget how to connect as humans. Why is this essential in your work, you might wonder? Because even with technological advances taking over all aspects of our lives, soft skills such as emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence, and empathy are still one of the most valuable traits one can have, especially in senior roles – where your main job is to people manage, motivate, inspire, and lead. You need to grow and practice these skills. This is something technology cannot replace…at least not any time soon. The only way to do it is to spend time with others, connect in a quality way, and listen.

Here are some ways to maintain a human touch and also improve the quality of relationships in your life:

  • Start at home – make time for quality family time, put your phone away during dinners. Visit your family members, make time to know what is happening in their lives. Give them attention. They need you the most. This is your base, this is your home, this is your support network.
  • Check in with friends. Put effort into getting to know how things are going for them. Listen. Listen to things that are unsaid. Listen to just listen. With no expectations. The most valuable thing you can give someone is simply your time.
  • Do the same with your co-workers. Be present. Be curious. Put away your phone! Talk. Share. Connect. Help each other grow. Lead by example.

Simple, I know. Just wanted to remind you.

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