NONE of us knows what the future has in store for us. What we do know is that whatever the future holds, change is inevitable. What we are doing today will potentially be different in the future. Much of what you have thought about so far has made you ask if you need to make changes in your life.

Change is a fact of life. For you to be adequately equipped for change, including in the workplace, it is essential that you develop the necessary skills to deal with such change. The question, of course, is how to prepare for changes in your work environment or how to predict an unknown future in your work and career? What do you think of the following? “Of all the people you will know in your lifetime, you are the only one you can never leave or lose. To the questions of life, you are the only answer. To the problems of life, you are the only solution.” (Unknown)

If you work for a company that has “developed a culture of learning”, then you are blessed in many respects. This company is probably taking care of your development needs and will have developed a learning path or a continuous development programme to take you through your career with them. That is something to be admired in such companies and they should be complimented for their effort in the ongoing development of their employees. To remain in demand in the workplace and in your career as a whole, it is essential that you continue your personal and professional development. You need to continually develop your skills and abilities.

The skills referred to here are skills that all employees, not just managers and supervisors, should demonstrate on a continual basis such as leadership skills, communication skills, interpersonal skills, innovative thinking and so on. These are skills and abilities sought by all employers and that are always in demand. Many advise learners that their company does not offer such programmes.

Many people sit back waiting for others to train them. It is time for such people to “wake up and smell the roses”. If this is how you think, then you must also wake up. We no longer live in a world of entitlement and handouts. There is no room in our world for people who want to take all the time. We all have a responsibility of doing things for ourselves and for our own self development. We have a responsibility to ourselves to continually learn and improve our abilities and our lot in life. We after all are the masters of our own destiny. Your success comes from saying I can, and then doing it.

Your future is in your hands and not in the hands of your employers. It is time to take ownership of your personal development. To do so means you will need to consider a personal development plan. It will require that you invest some money, not just time, in your personal development. Identify the areas that you want to improve on and choose one or two. Concentrate on them over the next six to 12 months. Develop a long-term self-development plan. The plan may include further education and training to develop the skills you need to advance in your career.

Consider your current position and the company you work for. What is it that your company does and what are the essential skills required in the company? After you have identified these skills, undertake some training to ensure that you become multi-skilled. Why jeopardise your future by concentrating only on the skills necessary to do your current job? Multi-skilling is the way of the future. If you are not, it will require some action by you. Don’t sit back waiting for someone to do it for you, it is your responsibility.

Finally, broaden your horizons by learning as much about the world of business as you can. Once again, only you can do this. When was the last time you read the business section in the press? What changes have taken place recently in the economy, within your specific profession or within your specific sector? No one can predict the future, but you can stay ahead of your competitors by staying informed and taking charge of your personal development.

Des Squire is a managing member at AMSI and Associates. Email des@amsiandassociates.co.za.

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