Is it time for you to learn new skills?

Photo credit: bahri altay, Shutterstock
Photo credit: bahri altay, Shutterstock

One of the ways many of us try to stay on top of changes in our work is by taking classes; it never hurts to brush up on old skills or learn new ones. But before you rush out and sign up for training, how do you know what kind of training you need or what you should be focusing on?

In his book A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger explores how asking better questions can help us discover more powerful solutions to our problems. One area where we need to be comfortable with continuous inquiry is our careers, but this can be one of the hardest places to step back and think strategically about next steps. After all, if you need a job right now or have been searching for a while, you’re more likely to focus on the day-to-day of finding a job than on the bigger picture of how your work might be changing and where you fit in.

Yet if you find yourself hitting a wall or feel like you need to change your focus, asking good questions can can give you much needed direction. Here are a few questions he suggests if you’re thinking of learning new skills.

  • How is my field/industry changing?
  • What trends are having the most impact on my field and how is that likely to play out over the next few years?
  • Which of my existing skills are most useful and adaptable in this new environment —and what new ones do I need to add?
  • Should I diversify more—or focus on specializing in one area?
  • Should I be thinking more in terms of finding a job—or creating one?

Keep in mind that this isn’t something you do once. These are the kinds of questions we should revisit often as our work shifts. He adds:

Changing tracks in a career is a form of innovation, on a personal level—and requires the same kind of rigorous inquiry that a business should undertake in pursuing a new direction or strategy. What’s required is not just a onetime adaptation; more likely, we’ll all have to be adept at continually changing tracks as we move forward.

What do you think of these questions? Have others to add? Share them in the comments.

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Former Editor and Creator of Idealist Careers, a publication of Follow me on Twitter @ajlovesya.
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  1. Great advice, whereever you are in your career you need to be assessing where your employer Is headed, where the industry you’re in is going and the value of your skills.
    Besides the annual performance appraisal with your employer, do your own to make sure you’re staying employable.

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