4 Reasons to Keep Learning for Professional Development and Career Advancement

professional development

In life, we can never stay on the same level. Standing still is not an option. As the world moves forward, if we stop learning, we not only stop growing, we’re actually moving backward. The faster the pace of the world, the more we need to keep learning.

Grant writers are no exception, in fact, staying abreast of developments in grant research, proposal writing, how to win government contracts, and help clients with grant management once grants are obtained, can be a full-time job.

Education can be formal or informal. It can include taking courses, going to workshops, seminars, and conferences, getting an advanced degree, or reading and studying on your own. Watching lectures and how-to videos by experts on YouTube, listening to podcasts and audiobooks to learn new skills in your areas of interest and gain new proficiencies, are all no- or low-cost ways to stay abreast of any new trends, advancements or best practices happening in the field.

Confucius said, “Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.”

According to Abraham Maslow, the American positive psychologist best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, “We’re always growing or stepping back into safety.” In order to keep growing, developing and advancing, continuing education is crucial for anyone who wants to succeed in their career.

“The acquisition of knowledge is a pathway to prosperity.  Spend time each day investing in yourself by learning something new. Education pays more dividends than the stock market.” says Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch, Grant Writer Team and YouHelp.

As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” So, for nonprofits wanting to change the world and business owners wanting to make a difference, it’s not about formal training. Being an autodidact, learning on your own is a great way to grow as well as getting degrees.

Professional Development and Career Advancement

Here are 4 reasons for grant writers and other professionals to continue to read, take classes, go to workshops and conferences in your profession, according to blogger Darius Foroux, in his post “Education.”

1. Making Better Decisions for Professional Development

You make better decisions when you educate yourself, look at the facts, and research everything. Never underestimate that the quality of your decisions will shape the outcome of your life and career.

2. More Opportunities

Keep an open mind and keep learning for professional development and career advancement. “Education opens your mind and more importantly, it increases your opportunities. People who are closed-minded and stick to what they know will never change. And change is the forward driving force of life,” explains Foroux.

“By educating yourself, you might think about things you’ve never thought of before. And you will be exposed to ideas you’ve never heard about. Combine those things together, and you have enough ideas and opportunities for a lifetime,” he adds.

Foroux suggests keeping a notebook and writing down new ideas as they come to you. “You’ll keep growing if you keep learning every day.” Plus, he says, new ideas will come to you easily, without force.

3. The more you learn, the more you’ll earn! 

Be the type of job applicant and employee that adds to a company, bringing ideas and ways to develop and contribute. Keep developing your skills so you can find the weaknesses in a company or nonprofit and help them improve.

“There are also two types of entrepreneurs,” explains Foroux:  “One says: ‘Pick me! Buy my product! Please! I will do business with anyone.’ The other says: ‘I only create exceptional products/services for a specific group of people. If it’s not for you; no sweat.’

“Entrepreneur 1 creates commodities. The other entrepreneur creates products/services that are unmissable.”

To become like the second entrepreneurs, you need to, “Become so good that people depend on your goods or services. How? You guessed it again: Learn, practice, be great,” he writes.

4. Education Is The Only Life-Long Investment

According to Benjamin Franklin, “If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”

The only possession you will never lose is knowledge, if you keep investing in it.  If you learn how to build a business, even if you lose it all, you will be able to start again and make the money back. In addition, “If you have a skill that people depend on, you will never be out of a job,” or lack for clients or customers if you’re self-employed.

Stay abreast of developments in your field. Read all the books and take all the courses you can that are relevant to your goals and aspirations. Spend much of your free time on learning and gaining new skills for professional development and career advancement.

Foroux says he spends most of his “Learning new things, going to new places, and meeting interesting people… It’s not easy. In fact, learning, studying, getting degrees, mastering skills, are all one of the hardest things in life.”

Invest in your HBR's 10 Must Reads self-education every single day. Prioritize learning over everything else in life.

See Darius Foroux’s blogs and reading list on his website.  One of the books he lists, On Managing Yourself, starts with a statement that sums up his philosophy, “The path to your professional success starts with a critical look in the mirror.” “This collection does not disappoint,” says Foroux. “Every piece will make you think more about your mission, vision, strengths, weaknesses, and how you can advance your career.”

“I actually prioritize education over food, relationships, health, clothes, and the other things of life. You know why? If I don’t, the other things are not as good. And it’s very simple. My goal is to read/learn/practice just 30 minutes a day. That’s not a lot to ask for, right? Because if you don’t have 30 minutes to spend on your education; what kind of life do you have?” concludes Foroux.

Education is crucial and we need to learn something new every day. Many people will start, but those who persist are the people who will truly advance in their lives and careers.

Find grants for education and professional development on GrantWatch. If you need help applying for a grant, the experienced grant writers on Grant Writer Team can help you.

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for Grant Writer Team and all Grant Watch websites.


8 Success Habits of Top Grant Writers


Do you have a brilliant idea for a new business or nonprofit but you're not sure how to express it to funders? A grant writer can help you with planning and implementation. Grant writing is a skill that can be learned, in fact, many grant writers got their start by writing grants while working in a different capacity. 

In fact, GrantWriterTeam founder and CEO, Libby Hikind, got her start in grant writing while working as a teacher for the New York City Department of Education. Other grant writers on the team have started out as teachers, principals, nonprofit staff members, social workers, and even as soldiers when asked to write a proposal as part of their job responsibilities. 

It is said that if you do something long enough it becomes a habit, and that our actions over time create our character, which in turn creates our destiny, as in the famous quote by Lao Tsu. 

Watch your thoughts: They become actions Habits can either help or hurt your success in life. Bad habits can fester and grow into a lifestyle that keeps you from accomplishing what you really want to in life. Good habits, on the other hand, help you take the actions needed to create a life filled with great results. 


Here are 8 habits shared by successful grant writers to increase your chances of getting the grants you seek. 

1. The Early Bird Catches the "Grant".

Successful grant writers begin well in advance of their submission deadlines. This could mean starting as much as nine months before the submission deadline to plan, identify the needs and research the focus of the proposal.  Since there are often many phases to a proposal prior to the final submission, it can be difficult to know ahead of time how long each phase will take. Therefore, cautious grant writers leave themselves enough time to get signatures from those who need to sign off on the proposal and send in the final draft before the deadline. 

2. Make Sure You Have Your "Ducks in a Row".

Grant writing is a highly specialized skill that requires attention to detail, precision, and the ability to be organized. A list in the attached article, Grant Writing – How To Apply for Grants and Write Effective Grant Proposals will help you with more ideas to help you get and stay organized. 

3. Passionate, Compassionate, and Have the Desire to Make A Difference

Successful grant writers are passionate about the work they do and are committed to helping their clients get the funding they need to the best of their ability. Whether working on a proposal for a nonprofit or for-profit, most grant writers care about the projects they take on. 

4. Cooperation and Collaboration

Grant writing requires cooperation and collaboration. It's often a team effort between the grant writer, some field experts and the client.  If you're fortunate enough to be working with a team, make sure all jobs are clearly defined and everyone knows their part in the process. If there are any deadlines they have to meet, the person in charge should be in touch with everyone in advance to make sure they have what they need to complete their tasks on time. 

If you're writing the grant alone, there are still elements for cooperation with people from the organization, or if you're an outside consultant coming in to write the grant, it's important that the director, staff, and board members involved are willing and able to provide the information you need in a timely fashion. 

5. Preliminary Research and Preparation

Research and review the literature regarding the existing problem that the grant is expected to solve. Lay out the specifics on the current situation and what is working and what is not working regarding the issue. Once this is done, the need for the proposal and the request for funding becomes clear. 

6. Offer Original, Creative, Innovative Solutions 

In most cases, donors are looking for innovative approaches whether it's to solve an existing problem or contribute to the advancement in the field. Innovative models that improve the field emerge from preliminary data, pilot studies, and extensive research. 

7. Clarity and Simplicity 

A grant proposal is like a business plan that's well thought out, clear and written in a way that's easy for the reviewers to understand. When the grant writer fully comprehends the program the agency wants to implement then, and only then will the grant reviewer get a clear and easy to read application to review, resulting in a much better chance for funding. 

8. Speak Their Language

Speaking the donor's language, using the terminology and buzz words the funders use in their mission, vision, and grant offering materials is the way to write. Get comfortable with the culture of the topic and be able to navigate and speak their language seamlessly.  This will win the confidence of the reviewers by ensuring that the proposal addresses the issues they care about and meets the criteria for projects they are looking to fund. 

Successful grant writers write for their audience. They know who will be reviewing the proposal and gear their writing toward the reviewers. In addition, it's important to know the criteria used to score proposals. 

In Conclusion

If this doesn't describe you – yet, don't fret, you can follow these behaviors and become more of an architect than a gardener, at least in your grant writing.  And, if you're still not sure about your proposal writing skills or don't have time to research or write a grant proposal yourself, hire an expert. Hiring a professional grant writer can increase the likelihood of receiving a grant exponentially.

Experienced grant writers from all backgrounds who have the talent to craft a compelling grant proposal are encouraged to sign-up on GrantWriterTeam.com, a service of GrantWatch.com. Joining GrantWriterTeam is easy. Create a profile, fill out the application and begin to bid on grant writing jobs

The great motivational leadership expert expressed it well in his bestselling classic, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”      – Stephen R. Covey 

About the Author: The author is a staff writer for GrantWriterTeam.