Want to improve your skills? Be proactive and follow these simple steps to create your own professional development plan.

William Shakespeare once wrote, “This above all: to thine own self be true.” We all have workdays that feel flat, uninspiring, stressful or maybe even boring. I use this famous line to remind myself that I am ultimately responsible for my own happiness, and that applies to work, too.

We can wait (or hope) for management to mentor and guide us toward what we need to know to be successful. Or, we can accept ownership, taking a ruthless look at our strengths, the areas that need improvement and the skills and knowledge required to do our jobs well.

You are your own best advocate. By analyzing your skills, pinpointing areas you’d like to improve and mapping those to organizational goals, you are taking a proactive stance in driving your career. It always feels good to be in the process of learning and improving.

Take these simple steps to create your own professional development plan:

1. List all the requirements of your current job role. Include multiple categories, such as:

  • Strategic requirements
  • Executional requirements
  • Metrics-related requirements
  • Process-related requirements
  • Organizational skills
  • Technology requirements
  • Management/leadership requirements
  • Soft-skill requirements (e.g. public speaking)

2. Give yourself a zero-to-five ranking for every skill required to do your job (zero is no expertise, five is mastery).

3. Identify areas where you gave yourself a score of zero to three.

4. Prioritize those areas in order of importance for improvement. Ask yourself, “Will improving in this area make me more effective in my work? Will it offer me more job satisfaction? Will it improve my impact on the business?”

5. Identify one to three internal or external resources you can access for training in those areas and map the amount of time, cost and impact on your day-to-day work.

6. Meet with your manager or HR contact to find out what is required to gain approval for your self-assessed training program.

Voila! Your professional development roadmap is now complete! Let the skills, knowledge and performance improvement begin!