Self-Directed Learning and Professional Proficiency

Professional proficiency requires ongoing, lifelong learning. There’s no getting around this. And there are no excuses.  In addition to traditional formal programs, technology has made learning much more accessible and convenient.   

Keeping current is critical to your success.  Arguably, it is the most critical component. Other than death and taxes, change is certain. To be comfortable with your current state of knowledge risks complacency and this is fatal to your success.

Learning should be purposeful and self-directed. Here are a few recommendations and tips based on my experience:

  • Continuing, lifelong learning is a given.  Accept it. Learn to love to learn.
  • You are responsible for developing your own plan.  It should be purposeful, structured, and challenging. Seek the advice/guidance of experienced practitioners who demonstrate a commitment to life-long learning
  • Work for an employer that is sincerely committed to its employees’ development.  That means substantive support including educational assistance and recognition.
  • Your employer’s educational assistance plan should be flexible, not rigid and not narrow.  For example, if you are an insurance claims professional, programs should not be reflexively disallowed if not directly related to claim handling.  This is short-sighted.
  • Your professional development, short- and long-term, should align with your employer’s goals.  If they don’t, find another employer.  A corollary: you should take the primary role in developing your goals and action plan to achieve them in collaboration with your boss…not the other way around.
  • Join professional associations that provide learning and networking opportunities.

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