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For kids, back-to-school means back to the books and a fresh start. For adults, it’s a good time to take a page from their book and follow suit towards a more productive and promising professional year.

Here are five things to do this fall with a goal of reaching your fullest potential.

  1. Learn to learn from mistakes. Not often is a professional “self-help” book deemed a page turner, but this one is. Read Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success by Matthew Syed. The author draws on many real-life experiences, including medical-related accidents versus plane accidents (hence the black box reference), to teach readers how to learn from their mistakes in order to grow. You’ll walk away with great insights and best practices around developing and sticking to processes and more.
  2. Be more likable. We all want people to like us and in business, having people on your side can be a huge career advantage. Check out The Like Switch by Jack Schafer, a former FBI agent who provides proven strategies on how to instantly read people and influence how they perceive you, so you can easily turn on the like switch. Read this book and watch your number of LinkedIn connections (and your support network) grow.
  3. Say yes. Has your manager offered you professional development training or a stretch assignment? Say yes! You will always walk away from an educational experience or new assignment with at least one new idea or best practice to try. You will also meet new people, gain more confidence and show your supervisor that you are engaged and interested. If you truly feel you are too busy, talk with him and her to prioritize your other projects to make room for something new. By the way, this also looks good on your resume!
  4. Research and register. You don’t have to leave it up to your manager to point you in the direction of educational opportunities. Conferences in your field and/or industry can be a great source of ideas, new skills and new connections. In the fall, you are entering the fourth quarter and budgets are tight. So, be proactive and search out conferences you can attend next year and put them on your calendar now. Reach out to your boss with the opportunity, date, cost and the expected benefits of attending. The more information you provide in relevance to your job, the more likely your boss is to approve your request. Once approved, register as soon as possible so that other future commitments don’t get in the way.
  5. Actually go back to school.Maybe you want to start your graduate degree or finish your undergraduate degree. Or maybe you want to learn more about your field or a specific area of your field without the two – four year commitment. Get in touch with your human resources department and find out if they offer tuition reimbursement. Then, scout your local universities for certificate programs or graduate / undergraduate programs. It may sound overwhelming now but in a few years, you have that certificate or degree and you will be even more marketable to both your current and future employers. If this is something you want, go for it!

Shannon Poser is the Vice President of Operations and Brand Development of ERA Franchise Systems.

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