In today's fast moving work environment there can be no standing still with your skills and knowledge.
But if you really want to get ahead then you need to be willing to go beyond what most people will do, which is normally just enough to stay where they are. Even those in the professions (lawyers and accountants) often do the bare minimum to meet regulatory requirements, they rarely go above and beyond what most of their peers will do to develop skills and knowledge.
Don't get me wrong, many (if not most) people have little driving ambition and are happy staying put.
But if that's not you, if you have some ambition to move yourself and your career forward then you have to start thinking about how to be better in your skills and knowledge.
And this starts with having an idea of what you'd like to be doing in one, three or five years time. Where do you want to be living? What work would you like to be doing? How much do you want to be earning? How much fitter and healthier would you like to be? And so on...
In other words "you have to have some idea of what you want".
But knowing what you want can be the most the difficult bit. So it's worth spending some time over.
You see, once you know what you want you can then begin to work out a plan to get you there. But deciding what you want and wanting it enough to start learning and developing can take some time.
Now I heard a saying a few years ago that has stuck with me:
"If you want things to get better YOU have to get better!"
In other words 'you can't expect things to improve if you do nothing to make them improve'. And, in all cases, that starts with some kind of learning.
Think of it this way: you wouldn't take your car to a mechanic who hadn't spent quite a lot of time learning about cars and how to maintain and repair them. So if you want to be a successful car mechanic you need to be learning about cars etc. Not only that but you have to continually learn about cars and how to fix and maintain them because auto technology changes very quickly.
But let's come back to the main point: To earn more you have to learn more.
And here's what I mean by that: In today's austere times it's no good just waiting for a pay raise or promotion. Here in the UK many civil servants haven't had a pay rise in a couple of years and most folks in the private sector have had raises that barely cover inflation (if at all).
So, with that in mind, what options do you have? To start with you could look for another job, along with everyone else who feels as though they're worth more. The job market is fierce right now. You could also apply for promotion, along with everyone else who feels that they deserve it.
Or you could try something new: You could start learning for additional knowledge, skills and qualifications to give you a better chance of getting a job or promotion.
Alternatively you could start a business in your spare time, perhaps something that might grow over time to replace your full-time income. There is no shortage of opportunity there.
But, however you look at it, if you want to improve your finances you'll have to take on board some new learning to improve your chances of making it happen.
So whatever you choose to do please don't sit on your hands and wait for things to happen, go out and shake things up.
Got some thoughts or experience on this? It'd be great if you would share them in the comments below: