September 19


Fall Into Growth: Your Season for Professional Advancement

By Sara Canaday

September 19, 2023

business leaders, career, career success, leadership, leadership skills, professional development, professional success

I don’t know about you, but the month of September always prompts a big mental shift for me. I go from thinking about waking up at 5:30 a.m. to get in my workout before the heat hits and afternoons at the swimming pool (both of which rarely happen) to gearing up for uninterrupted work when my kids return to college, enjoying the hype of football season and, of course, recalling the vivid memories of heading back to school with the anticipation of learning something new.

Fall is a season that, for many of us, symbolizes a fresh start and a renewed focus on professional development. It’s the perfect time to invest in learning and growth experiences that can expand our knowledge and reignite our passion and purpose.

If you want to maximize the impact of your development, be sure to establish a strategy before you dive in. I’d like to share some tips to help you create a development strategy for this season of growth.

1.     Clarify Your Goals

When was the last time you sat down and deliberately thought about your career goals and aspirations? Take a moment to reflect on where you are right now and where you really want to go. What specific skills and experience do you need to fuel the journey?

Getting clarity on your vision and goals will allow you to target your professional development in a way that focuses your learning and powerfully influences your career.

2.     Communicate Your Aspirations

Once you have refined your career goals, it’s essential to share them with those who can help you achieve them. Be transparent about your vision for what you want to learn and where you want to go, particularly with managers or leadership team members. Besides providing guidance, resources, and opportunities that align with your goals, these people may be able to open doors to possibilities you never even knew existed.

3.     Take Action

While your manager may play a pivotal role in your growth, always remember that it’s ultimately your responsibility to take the lead in your own development process. Prioritize learning and dedicate the time to acquire new skills and knowledge. Here are a few steps you might consider:

  • Seek out learning opportunities: Explore various options for growth—whether online courses, campus classes, or company-sponsored programs—to discover new avenues and augment your knowledge and skills.
  • Join a professional organization: These groups offer a wealth of resources, from workshops to networking events, that can significantly boost your career.
  • Take on a special assignment: Volunteering for projects outside your usual scope of work can provide valuable experience and showcase your versatility.
  • Look for high-potential, rotational, or shadowing opportunities: If your company offers these, take advantage of them. They’re designed to groom future leaders by providing diverse experiences.
  • Make a lateral move: Sometimes growth isn’t about moving up but moving around. By understanding different parts of the business, you become a more well-rounded professional.
  • Acquire a professional designation: Enhance your credibility and gain fresh perspectives on your role and expertise by obtaining certifications.

As you embrace the spirit of autumn, I hope it inspires you to adopt some new growth strategies that can transform your professional journey. Make the commitment to learn something new, shed old habits, or tackle a daunting challenge. Don’t let this season of opportunity pass you by.

How are you actively expanding your skills and experience this fall? I’d love to hear about it. 

Until next time,

Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

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