Career development is always on the radar, but it can be easy to push aside when work gets busy. You don't need to wait for someone to invite you to develop new skills, certifications, or strengths. After all, it’s your career. You know more than anyone about your goals, values and what you want to accomplish in your work. Ready for a future of meaningful work? Here are five tried-and-true ways to get started.

1 Set goals and stick to them 

You know more than anyone about what you want to accomplish in your work, so creating personal goals is critical. Whether your career development goals include networking, learning a new language (Portuguese or Python), or working on a degree, regularly set aside time to focus on achieving those goals.

2 Don’t just tolerate organizational change—support it 

Where there is change, there’s an opportunity to learn and grow. Volunteer for the cross-functional task force. Raise your hand for that new project. Suggest a new project. Volunteering increases the chances of working with new people and experience work that you’ve never done before. And even if you don’t get selected to work on a specific project, your leaders will likely appreciate your initiative. 

3 Be deliberate about building business relationships 

Building relationships across your organization or in your community is one of the most important ways to grow your career. Set up regular check-ins with your colleagues. Ask people outside your team if they’d have time for an informational meeting so you can learn more about their work. Don’t worry about being a pest; most people will be flattered that you’re interested in what they do. 

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4 Be a mentor   

Mentoring others can also help you clarify your development goals. When you teach someone about what you do, you’ll get a new perspective on your work—what you enjoy, what you don’t, where there are challenges, and where there are opportunities. You can be a formal mentor to a student or to a team member at the start of their career. Or, if there are any new hires on your team, offer to be their onboarding buddy — help them meet new people and get comfortable in their role.  

5 Keep your eyes on the future

Between everything changing in the world and your day-to-day responsibilities at work and home, it can be easy to put off your development activities. Learning new things is a great way to stay energized and engaged. It will make you an increasingly valuable resource at work and make you feel fulfilled—simultaneously.  

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