Earning Money the Old-Fashioned Way: Career Development for Long-Term Financial Growth

FT Contributor  | 

Jumping on the latest technology trend or hyped up product as a way to get rich quick can be tempting. However, if you’re solely focused on the next big thing that’ll make you rich, you’re bound to end up floundering. Consider all the investors who threw their money at the shiniest ideas they saw coming out of Silicon Valley.

There are countless Silicon Valley horror stories to show hype-based investing is not a good way to make money, such as Groupon, who confidently went public, then didn’t turn a profit for three years. If you want to invest in your future and achieve long-term financial growth, it’s important to change your way of thinking and ditch the “get rich quick” strategy.

Think in Terms of Growth — Not Money

If you keep a narrow focus on money, you’re losing sight of the bigger picture. Growth should be your top priority, since it’s what will eventually get you to your financial goals.

The Secret to Long-Term Financial Growth

While money is attributed directly to success, it’s actually only a byproduct of success. If you’re focused solely on making money, you’ll fall into the trap of rushing from gimmick to gimmick to make a quick buck.

While you may experience some short-term gains with this strategy, it’s not likely to lead to any sustainable financial stability or growth. The only way to see long-term results is to earn your money the old-fashioned way: through professional growth.

Developing a Growth-Oriented Mindset

In order to grow, you must acknowledge both your strengths and weaknesses. There’s no way to improve as a professional unless you’re willing to step out of your comfort zone and make an effort to learn new skills. It can be challenging, but adding new skills to your professional tool box is the only way to grow.

In expanding your tool box and learning new skills, you’ll also need to be open and willing to accept criticism and make changes to improve. Criticism isn’t easy to receive, but if it’s coming from a knowledgeable source, it can truly help you master new skills and become more comfortable in the growth process.

The Importance of Career Development

If you’re on board with earning money the old-fashioned way, your career must take a constructive path that’s conducive to professional growth. Financial growth goes hand-in-hand with professional growth, so focusing on career development can lead you to higher earnings.

Setting Professional Goals

The first and most important step in career development is to create a vision for your career. Your vision should include your goals but these goals shouldn’t simply be the salary you want to make or the car you want to drive. You must set SMART goals, which means they should be:

  • Specific.
  • Measureable.
  • Attainable.
  • Relevant.
  • Timely.

You should include both short-term and long-term goals. For example, your short-term goal could be, “I want to take a college computer class to learn Adobe Photoshop.” An example of a long-term goal you set might be, “I want to get a promotion to Sales Manager in the next three years.” Be sure your goals also complement your personal goals, such as buying a new house.

Creating a Career Development Plan

A career development plan can also help you on your professional growth trajectory. This plan lays out your objectives, goals, and actionable steps you need to take to get there. To create a career development plan, you must:

  1. Set your objectives.
  2. Assess your current position.
  3. Review your options.
  4. Create your action plan.

With a solid career development plan in place and the motivation to follow it, you’ll be well on your way to professional growth.

Measuring Your Achievements

Once you’ve created your career development goals, you’ll need to check in on your progress toward both your short- and long-term goals. You’re on the right track if you’re hitting the milestones toward these goals on the timeline you anticipated. However, if you aren’t reaching your goals in the time you thought you would, you’ll need to make some adjustments.

Don’t discredit yourself if you feel you’ve gotten off-track with your goals. Be proud of the progress you’ve made and reassess the goals you’ve set for yourself. If you need to change your goals or your path, it’s okay to be flexible. While your career development plan provides you with a path and structure for your career, circumstances change over time, so your plan can too.

Resources to Help You Achieve Professional Growth

If you’re motivated to earn money the old-fashioned way, there are many resources to help you achieve professional growth. The resources listed below can assist you in creating your career development plan, setting your goals, and following the path you’ve created.

National Career Development Association — Internet Sites for Career Planning

The National Career Development Association (NCDA) offers a list of helpful links to assist you in assessing your professional achievements. The site also includes resources to search for work or pursue higher education, all of which can help you advance your career.

Youth.gov — Career Exploration & Skill Development

If you’re in the early stages of your career and are interested in planning out your path to professional development, Youth.gov is a helpful resource. The site can help you match what you’re learning in school to how you can structure your career path and can also assist in your search for internships or apprenticeships.

American Library Association — Career Development Resources

If you’re a professional looking to make a career change, the American Library Association (ALA) offers helpful career development resources. Job search information, such as how to sharpen your interview skills or edit your cover letter, can help you find success on your new career path.

While you may find short-term earnings in the latest and greatest investments, the old-fashioned and sustainable way to find financial success is through professional development. When you create a career development plan and SMART short- and long-term goals, you’ll set yourself up for a profitable future and fulfilling career.


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