School-DoodlesSchool’s out for the summer – or soon will be - for those who are in "school."

For those of us officially out of school, however, is school ever out?

If we're in the midst of a career, shouldn't we be learning all the time?

The answers to these questions are "no" and "yes," by the way.

How many of us though, unless our employer is doing it, approach career training formally - with a planned curriculum involving both traditional and non-traditional learning and grades reflecting our progress?

I'll be the first to admit I don't.

I have a long list of interests where I want to learn more. I read and experiment with those, maybe taking some classes or going to learning events. Mostly though, I read random articles or blog posts on these topics and stop. But devising a comprehensive learning plan? I gave that up when I walked out after completing Dr. Jauch's business policy (affiliate link) final to wrap up grad school.

4-Step Career Training Plan to Learn More this Year

So how about this relatively simple 4-step plan to work on during the traditional summer vacation from school to make sure you are moving your career training ahead?

1. Pick Your Curriculum

Identify two topics where you want to improve your knowledge, skills, and proficiency. They may be directly work related or of a more personal interest. Either way, actually write down that you're tackling them next fall (or right away, if you're going for extra credit).

2. Select Your Learning Resources

Next, plan where and how you're going to improve your expertise in these two areas in the near future. And "near future" doesn’t mean "whenever," but during the next school semester. Start right now identifying several sources and activities in each area that will grow and test your mastery and progress.

3. Decide Your Class and Study Schedule

3. Once you know what you're studying and have a general sense of your available learning resources, create your schedule for next semester. Look ahead on your calendar and actually start blocking out one or two learning times or activities you'll regularly do next semester. Do it now before your calendar fills up with all the other things that pop up and eliminate time you'd like to devote to learning. While your schedule may fluctuate and vary the closer you get, plan for a start and an end - and don't "cut classes" lightly.

4. Get Ready to Grade Yourself

Finally, as you go through the semester, grade yourself. You get to do it yourself because we're all big girls and boys. But don't use a pass / fail scale. Here's a suggestion:

  • A - Clearly demonstrating new levels of proficiency and expertise that's translating into better results and/or other people recognizing new value you provide
  • B - Seeing stronger knowledge and comfort on the topic, but it hasn't translated into any noticeable differences yet in results / value
  • C - You have more knowledge, but there is still much to learn to apply your knowledge as you hoped

Notice there are no D's or F's. That's because if you've gotten this far in being more deliberate about learning, you're ahead of all the other people you work with, whether inside or outside your company, who aren’t trying this!

Are you ready for better career training?

Are you up for going back to school next semester in a more structured way to boost your career training? If so, what topics are you going to study? – Mike Brown

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