How taking a ‘Personal Away Day’ can boost your career development

A Business Analyst ponders when she might find time to work on personal development
It’s easy to procrastinate and put off spending time on personal development

So, why do it?

Two people are looking at an empty calendar which is titled ‘A Quiet Day’
Dedicating time to spend on your personal away day is key

Setting Outcomes

Plan the day!

Two people are thinking; ‘navel gazing’ and thinking about the list of tasks and jobs to do to plan their day
Planning your away day will mean you make the most of the time
  • Session 1: Review the previous year. Identify what went well and what didn’t, from my own reflection, from reviewing my end of year 360 feedback, and my manager’s review.
  • Session 2: Review and do a self-assessment of my role’s competency matrix. Identify areas where I could improve or develop further.
  • Session 3: Go for a walk: this time is to let my thoughts wander. Sometimes my best ideas come to me whilst on a walk, so I enjoy and value this time. This also breaks the monotony of sitting at a desk all day.
  • Session 4: Big Picture Career Goals: where do I want to go? What kinds of things do I want to do? Brainstorm the ideas.
  • Session 5: How might I get there: collating all the information from the day, put together a set of personal OKRs that look at addressing areas to develop, as well as activities to help me towards my longer term goals.

Get away from it all: change the location

A croissant with a personality — and a face!
Don’t forget to eat! And have a treat.

So how did it go?

Persuading your manager!

Tools and techniques: ideas for career development activities

  • The GROW model can help you identify your goals and how to achieve them
  • Creating a career ‘mood board’ can be a way to visualise what a future career move might look like
  • Review job competencies, and even job descriptions for open positions — for your role and roles you’re interested in: what roles appeal to you and why? Would you apply? What’s stopping you? Identify what you value in a role, as well as what skills you might need to get there.
  • Adapt a ‘Wheel of Life’ template for career focussed values or competencies that you can measure yourself against
  • Reflect using a ‘Career Happiness’ timeline: the X axis is time (in months, or years, it’s up to you on the time period you want to review), and the Y axis shows your level of happiness. Thinking back over your career, or projects you’ve worked on, plot when you were happy, and when you weren’t, and when things were ok. Then, thinking of those times when you were happiest and saddest: what made you feel that way? What elements made you feel happy, and conversely, what made you feel sad? How can you incorporate these elements to make your working life happier (and therefore be more productive and motivated)?



A blog by the Financial Times Product & Technology department.

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