I used to read a column in the NY Times that contained essays from its readers. In June 1996, Mary S. Ludwig wrote about adopting a philosophy of learning something new every year. It didn't have to be something about her job or career; it could be anything. The first thing she chose to learn was how to create and use spreadsheets with Visicalc, the predecessor of modern spreadsheet sofware. Another year she focused on public speaking. Occasionally she skipped a year, but generally she stuck with it four years out of five.
Anyway, I loved that philosphy and adopted it on the spot. Over the years I've learned quilting, knitting, various software programs, HTML, and blogging. One of the biggest topics I focused on several years ago was how to be a good coach. That work led to my current career.
If you are in a job search, one question you may encounter when doing informational or regular interviews is: What was the last new thing that you learned to do?
The motivation for such a question is to determine how much time and effort you invest in your own personal and professional development. Do you wait for your company to pay for training? If they don't, do you set aside any part of your own income to take classes, buy books or join a professional association?
In the olden days of big corporate budgets, employers would routinely allocate serious funds towards training and development of employees. In today's world, if such a budget is initially allocated, it's the first item to go when revenues don't meet projections during the course of the fiscal year.
In small businesses, training budgets are usually focused on functional skills like marketing or manufacturing.
So, what is your personal and professional development plan?
If you like this philosophy but have no idea where to start, allow me to suggest you learn how to do mindmapping. It's easy, it's fun, and it will take you places you never dreamed of. You'll find other reasons to learn it and how to get started in these resources:
Mind Mapping Demonstrations:
Examples: For many, many examples, type "mind maps" without the quotes into Google and search in Images.