Career Growth On The Job

How to Prioritize Personal and Professional Development in a Pandemic

In 2020, no one had the right to judge anyone else for lounging around the house in sweatpants all day while working from home. Some days, merely moving from the bed to the couch counted as meeting your personal and professional development goals. 

But now, it is a new year, hope is on the horizon, and it is at last time to exit that blanket burrito. 

Remember, you don’t have to push yourself to pursue all possible career growth goals immediately. Eagerness and positive perspective are healthy, but it’s OK to take things slow. 

Demanding a higher salary or considering a whole career shift may be tempting after many months of feeling stuck. But the timing has to be right. 

Before you get swept away, try these personal and professional development goals:

Meet your networking goals

Everyone knows professional networking is pivotal to the trajectory of your career. Even if you’re satisfied in your current position and don’t need connections for job leads, expanding your network will never hurt your personal and professional development. 

In fact, a 2017 LinkedIn global survey indicated that nearly 80% of professionals believe networking to be vital to their career success, and 70% of people hired in 2016 got their job with a company where they had a connection. 

While we are still in a pandemic, that does not mean business networking must die. Plenty of online resources are available to meet new people virtually. 

LinkedIn, of course, remains a top networking destination. But there are also new apps gaining in popularity to build those professional connections. Shapr, for example, is like a dating app for professional networking, and the dating app Bumble even has a business mode for the same purpose. 

Use these communication tools to stay in touch with your new connections. 

Adopt a new time management system

With all the apps we have at our disposal these days, poor time management should be a vice of the past. Yet here we are, with what seems to be the majority of people in the world struggling with time management. 

One step to help make time for everything is to track where time gets away from you. (Yes, that means forcing yourself to pay attention to how long you’ve been swiping through Tiktok or digging yourself deeper into a YouTube rabbit hole.) 

Many phones and apps can track how much time you spend on your phone at no cost to you. Also, free apps like Forest can help you stay focused by planting a virtual tree when you avoid touching your phone for X minutes. 

Other time management options include:

  • Virtual or physical to-do lists
  • Writing out goals for the week
  • Designing a color-coded schedule of where you want your time to go

But remember, trying all these methods at once would likely be overwhelming and lead to giving up. Test out one at a time and take it slow. 

Take advantage of educational resources

TalentLMS found that 42% of employees have pursued training on their own since the coronavirus outbreak. If you aren’t among that number, it’s not too late to join them now! 

Plenty of resources are still available. LinkedIn is currently offering its online courses for free until January 28th. Newsletter, podcasts, and webinars from your favorite outlets are still producing free and relevant content. And while you can’t attend in-person conferences this year, there are more virtual alternatives than you’d think. 

Learning doesn’t always sound like the most fun way to spend your free time, I know. But it provides countless benefits for your personal and professional development. For instance, the TalentLMS research revealed that 80% of employees say upskilling/reskilling training boosts their confidence, and 81% of employees say it increases their productivity at work. 

Seeking out continuous training on your own doesn’t have to consume your whole life. Start out by exploring one resource a week. 

Don’t know where to start? These sales books are sure to boost your medical sales career. 

Walk X miles a week

Sunlight, fresh air, and physical movement are good for you. But far too many of us struggle to get from Point A (understanding that something would be healthy) to Point B (doing that thing). 

When it comes to physical activity, you don’t have to do anything crazy. Fifty burpees a day plus running is the definition of terror to a lot of people. But walking? Everyone with a dog does that already. 

Be intentional with how much you walk, and aim to hit a specific mile count each week. Maybe it’s 7 miles a week, and you walk a mile a day…or perhaps something a little more beginner level. 

Keeping yourself accountable for physical activity will benefit your personal and professional development more than you can imagine. 

Share about your day with someone

Especially if you’re still working from home, it is critical to connect with a friend or family member at the end of the day. Whether you take it as an opportunity to vent, seek advice, or distract yourself from work stressors after a long day in sales, you need that quality time for both your personal and professional development. 

According to Cigna’s 2020 Loneliness Index, loneliness causes employees to be more likely to miss workdays, complete lower quality work, and suffer from lower productivity. 

Even if it feels like a chore after an exhausting day, push yourself. Aim to share your day with someone (and hear about theirs) for at least 15 minutes every day.