What if you were told you are earning today exactly the amount you have chosen to earn, no more and no less; that you are where you are financially because you have chosen to be right there. Would you agree with that?
Most would adamantly disagree.
But the fact remains that there are specific actions you’ve taken thus far to get to your current income level at your current job. From that perspective you have decided or chosen the amount of income as a result of your actions and inactions.
Yes, inactions because no matter what income level you find yourself, if asked if you want to make more money, nine times out of ten, the answer will be yes. Since most people will answer in the affirmative, then there have to be actions that you have failed to take that have caused your current income to stay at a level below what you truly want to earn. So for federal employees, especially those nearing retirement, the question becomes, what must I do to increase my earning ability now?
The best way to do this is by increasing your Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSAs). The cold often hard truth is that if you are not becoming more and more valuable to your organization by continuously and aggressively upgrading your skills, you are automatically falling behind and widening your financial gap. In life, if you’re not constantly moving forward, then you’re obviously going in the opposite direction.
A lot has been written lately about the widening skills gap and rightfully so. Your personal KSAs are an investment. But like any investment, it can either appreciate or depreciate. In order to bridge the skills gap and increase your earning potential, you have to take matters into your own hands.
Let’s face it, once you’ve developed and mastered a skill for your current job, you should always be preparing for your next job. Why? Because experts say that knowledge doubles every two to three years in almost every occupation. This means that your knowledge must double at the same rate in order for you to just stay in the game. Individuals who are not aggressively and continually upgrading their KSAs are sadly getting left behind, especially in this digital age.
If you want to increase your earning potential and thereby choose a higher income, commit to lifelong learning. I interviewed one of our top executives and he told me he reads at least one hour every day in his niche area. He is able to know what the competition is doing because he commits to knowing exacting what they know. Another good idea is to use your commute time as learning time. Instead of listening to music on the drive to work, invest in audio programs that will allow you to add to your skill set while on the go. And lastly, take every course and seminar you can find in your niche area. If your employer won’t pay it, pay for it yourself.
Last year, I attended a writing seminar that I paid handsomely for, but it was worth it. I have put many of the ideas I learned into practice and my personal KSAs have skyrocketed. What I know for sure as a result of my 20 years as a federal employee, is that you have to be proactive when it comes to your career and if you want to close the skills gap and earn more, you can’t always wait for your federal employer, you oftentimes have to bite the bullet and invest in the next big thing – YOU.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are mine and mine alone.