It’s that time of year again and, boy, don’t they come round fast. The time when every paper and magazine, every website and social media trend will be urging you to look for the “New You”, seize your opportunities and “GO FOR IT”. Well, that’s all very well and good but what if you don’t know what “IT” is and wouldn’t want it even if you did!

We are all hard wired to take stock at the turn of the year and each year is different for each of us. We may look back on the year just gone and be pleased with what we have achieved or we may have a completely opposite reaction. Having quite a few years under my belt has taught me a thing or two, mostly the hard way. The thing that I would like to share, and probably the most important of all those varied lessons is that, even though I may ask for advice and guidance, I am the best person to decide on what is best for me. There is nothing wrong with the status quo if that is what I choose. Neither is there anything wrong with working hard to elevate the level that I currently occupy. So there you are, article over. We all have a right to be who we want to be, whether we want to stay where we are or move on up.

And yet ………   There is a baseline story which is used by all of us who work to encourage people to be involved in their own continuing professional development. It’s the old chestnut about all of us preferring to be treated by the doctor who regularly undertakes additional training and reads about new theories, rather than the one who, having qualified in the 1970s, has not bothered since then to keep himself up to speed with modern methods and theories. This applies to every employment sector and all professions. So even if you love the work you do and have no intention of changing the status quo, it really is incumbent on you to keep abreast of what is happening around you and to maintain your skills at the highest, most current level. You therefore maintain your professionalism and offer excellence and an outstanding service to those with whom you work.

On the other hand, you may just be feeling that it could be time for a change – major or minor – or you may want to find a way to include something in your daily life that is, at the moment, only a dream. Do you have any idea how would you go about making those changes? You know there is something to aim for but getting from here to there may be looking like a bit of a mystery. It is certainly possible that you could work it all out for yourself but somehow the path remains hidden and difficult and it all takes a lot of time and effort. So it could well be that the best course of action now would be for you to phone-a-friend. What is interesting is that those who know and love us best are often the very people we should avoid when looking for objective advice of this kind. Their vision of us is often static and could limit our thinking about opportunities and possibilities.

Over the last couple of years there has been a growing awareness that, for individuals as well as organisations, the idea of finding a suitable mentor is something that we should all be seriously considering. Mentors are well placed to assist you in achieving whatever is relevant for your own situation. Finding a mentor with whom you can work is not about finding someone who is going to tell you what you should do. Your mentor will be there to listen carefully, to support you, to discuss the possibilities and occasionally throw in a few ideas for you to consider. It is this combination of listening, support and the inclusion of someone else’s experience that can create revelations and plans. Mentee testimonials are full of those “Why on earth didn’t I think of that before” moments.

So there you have it, whether you wish to maintain the status quo, albeit a bright shiny version of it, or you are secretly dreaming of something out of the ordinary, there is a mentor out there who can help you to make it all come true. All you need to do now is find the right one and that’s not as difficult as you might think.

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Susie Kay is Founder of The Professionalism Group, an advice and consultancy organisation working with individuals, students, businesses and professional institutes, focusing on the benefits of professionalism. She is a speaker and writer and is happy to ... (Read More)

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