How did I end up where I am today? We’ve all asked ourselves that question thousands of times pondering the roads we’ve followed, the decisions we’ve made, and the many ventures of circumstance that led us to where we currently find ourselves. We think back on situations and choices we’ve made and wonder what might have been if things had gone differently.
The truth is, we make thousands of decisions every day from the moment we wake up until the time we go to bed. The sum total of those choices—what we know, where we are, what happened around us, how we responded, and what we’ve learned—combined with the person we were yesterday, is what creates the individual we see in the mirror.
Sounds pretty deep, right? Well, for those that think next we’ll start chanting, there is a point. We can’t change the past, but we all have the ability to affect our future. While not every decision has to set the world on fire, we can change routines, alter habits, and make improvements. If we choose, we can stop doing many of the things we know are bad for us and focus more on self‑improvement. In just about every area of our lives there are things we can work on if we want to.
It’s the time of year for New Year’s Resolutions, where good intentions too often lead to lost opportunities. But for many of us, the reason behind our self-inflicted failures is that we try to take on too much at once. Rather than investing in expensive exercise equipment, it may be better to take a few minutes each day to go for a walk. Sometimes we need a big change or a clean break. But keep in mind there are other times when taking small steps makes more sense. Invest in yourself by learning what’s best for you.
Growth Happens in Steps
The same thought process can be applied to our professional development as well. Professional opportunity isn’t typically placed in front of us on a silver platter. A promotion is something we earn over time. A college degree takes time, money, and effort. Building partnerships takes trust, flexibility, and resolve. Building a reputation takes commitment and determination. It’s a journey we earn a little at a time, building on those small steps to create something valued and worthwhile.
There are times when patience and creativity are our most important assets. Don’t feel you have the time or resources to earn a college degree? Take an online course here and there, and invest in yourself a little at a time. Look at the industry certifications, which are eligible for academic credits. There are even scholarship opportunities that can provide that education for free. If the goal is self‑improvement, there are different prospects. The opportunities are there if you’re flexible and open-minded.
Looking at all the conferences available each year—maybe you’re not afforded the opportunity to attend. Even so, you can still access many of the sessions by simply visiting the association web page to learn more. Sessions typically review the most prominent issues facing the industry today. Most associations provide access to the session summaries and other resources. Some offer full video presentations from the key speakers. LP Magazine attends most of these conferences and offers a closer look at the events. The information is there if you want to learn.
Want to get more involved? Want your voice to be heard? Want to make a difference? We can’t complain if we’re not willing to participate. Take part in the industry surveys when provided the opportunity rather than deciding that taking a few minutes is a “waste of my valuable time.” Make comments and ask questions on social media posts regarding industry news. Volunteer to make a presentation, take part in a group project, or help with a company initiative. Ask your supervisor questions. Ask your peers questions. Learn more about the business beyond your current reach. These steps help you grow—and earn attention.
Often it’s the small steps that lead us through our most important journeys. Take a closer look at the little things you can do to stand up and stand out. Recognize the difference between reasons and excuses and put yourself in a position where you don’t need to think back on the situations and the choices you’ve made and wonder what might have been if you did things differently.