SEA Affiliate Week: Prioritizing and Planning Your Personal Professional Development by Sheena Horton

Hi evaluators! This is Sheena Horton, Past President for the Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA). I’m going to kick off SEA’s annual AEA365 Professional Development Week by providing you with a few tips for developing an effective professional development plan that aligns with your vision, passion, and career goals.

Hot Tips:

  1. Brainstorm a list of your short- and long-term goals, and pick your top two from each list to focus on for the year. Think about what you want and where you want to be a year from now, and focus on goals that will provide you with fulfillment or simplify your daily life or your work. Your professional goals should differ from your workplace’s professional development plan. These goals should reflect more of your own desires, passions, and ambitions than your workplace-specific goals, which tend to be attuned more to your role within the organization. Goals can be as dramatic as making a career change or as modest as improving your leadership or technical skills.
  2. Make sure your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-Based. This will help you develop the foundation of your professional development plan. Your plan can be as simple or complex as you need it to be. I maintain a running list of goals organized into categories (like technical, leadership, financial, and so on) in an Excel spreadsheet with highlighted cells indicating my focus goals for the year. I determine how much time each goal will likely take to achieve, and I set a desired month as my completion date. I also include a list of actions I’ll need to take and I determine a simple, regular schedule for knocking them out, whether it’s signing up for a training or making a phone call. No step is too small as long as you’re moving forward!
  3. Engage in new experiences, take risks, and add fun to your professional development plan. I encourage you to make sure these three components are included in your plan. There’s a reason why people are advised to venture outside their comfort zones. Trying something new or taking risks introduces us to new people and experiences, and it helps us develop our skills. You can gain and grow from both success and failure. Also, be sure to add fun to your plan. It will ease stress and keep you motivated to stick to your goals.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Southeast Evaluation Association (SEA) Affiliate Week with our colleagues in the SEA Affiliate. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from SEA Affiliate members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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