The year 2020 has proven to be nothing short of surprising. If anything, it should remind us that change is everlasting and that we must be prepared for all that it brings. With 2021 around the corner, it has become even more important for professionals to ensure they are readying themselves for the near future. The great news is that we still have some time left this year to end on a good note.

In the training industry, as the value of our profession increases, we must remain at the forefront by maintaining our level of education and knowledge so that we can contribute to the new demands of our profession. The virtual workplace has even more significance than ever, and while we may return to working in live environments, many organizations have decided on hybrid systems as their new standard.

With this change in mind, it is important to avail ourselves of all the opportunities we have to remain professionally relevant. How else will we contribute to elevating our industry, promote its engagement and adding value, all while staying grounded? Here are a five key items to consider:

1. Awareness

Remind yourself of the professional development tools that are available to you. Tools such as certificates focused on learning, certifications that include a credential, college programs, internships, on-the-job opportunities, mentorship, conferences, webinars and other virtual options are all great ways training professionals can continue to grow. Do your research so that you can select the tool that will best help you in your career.

2. Ownership

There’s tremendous power in taking responsibility for your career. It is no one’s job but yours to decide on the future of your career. Decide for yourself that you will make a change. Once you make that decision, you will better understand the options that are available to you, and you will be more likely to succeed, impress your leadership team and create new opportunities for yourself. Simply put: It starts with you!

3. Best Practices

There are a few ways to simplify your professional development process. First, set the tone to make learning new skills a positive experience by setting up your environment so that it is conducive to learning.

Need to change some priorities? Do so — it is worth the investment. A few months of lack of distractions will pay off immensely down the road.

Find someone who is interested in mentoring you, if you believe a mentor can help you succeed. Work better with others? Find colleagues who, like you, have a growth mindset. Being surrounded by others who are looking to evolve is a great way to feel supported.

Is cost a concern? Ask your organization for support, apply for tuition assistance or start saving for your future now.

4. Next Steps

While you prepare yourself for future success by learning new skills, think about the next logical step toward reaching your goals. Take small steps so that you do not overwhelm yourself. Then, think about how you will leverage your new skill in the long term. Keeping your goals in mind is key so that you are not learning aimlessly (if there is such a thing!).

5. The Big Picture

It is important to recognize that professional development is beneficial to both yourself and the industry you belong to. Outside of your own growth and its impact on your professional confidence, remember that by investing in yourself, you are investing in your industry and contributing to the relevance of your work on a larger scale. You are also impacting the culture of your organization, as you may inspire others to contribute to its learning culture as you make a measurable impact.

Taking on professional development strategically demonstrates our commitment to our work and impacts the reputation of the training profession. It help us prepare for development initiatives as well as new and exciting projects in the corporate and adult learning marketplace. It also evokes a renewed interest among our colleagues in how they can bridge the gap from where they are now to where they want to be, which will expand their minds and help the people they serve.

So now that you are equipped with these friendly reminders, how will you choose to remain relevant in 2021?