Most of us strive to grow and advance both on a professional and personal level. But many of us dont make the time or a conscious and continuous efforts towards our personal advancement.
Proactively investing in your own personal and professional development is one of the biggest gifts you can give yourself. Gaining a new perspective and developing your competencies, knowledge and skills in a given area is something you will never regret. In other words, there is a guaranteed return on investment. Unfortunately, I often come across people who are stuck or frustrated that their manager or employer has not provided them with learning opportunities. Of course, organizational learning and development programs play an important role in the creation of a strong employee value proposition. However, that should not mean that we simply just leave our own professional growth to chance and adopt a wait and see attitude.
From those who are self-employed or running their own businesses the narrative is frequently centered around the usual obstacles to self-advancement being lack of money or lack of time.
Personally, I am a strong believer in my growth and my advancement being my own responsibility. In fact, they are too important for me to outsource them to anyone else. In the absence of a supportive manager, unlimited financial resources and all the time in the world, there are still quite easy, practical and free things we can do to ensure we are consciously and continuously investing in our own development.
A useful starting point is to begin with some self-reflection and introspection. Ask yourself “what is one thing I need to learn or become better at to help me move to the next level, to grow or be more fulfilled in my life and/or career?”. Once you have some clarity on that, simply just start!
It may not be possible (nor really necessary) for you to attend a physical 5-day training in Dubai or London or Cape Town but that does not stop you from taking some proactive steps to move forward. Here are some suggestions:
- Webinars and E-Courses there is certainly no shortage today of webinars and online courses for you to participate in. You may be surprised but many of them are free or charge a nominal cost. So, identify the area you want to develop most and then start doing some research to find a webinar to participate in or an online course to enroll in. In most cases you will find that you can even watch the recorded webinar at a later stage in case you missed the live version.
- Podcasts are wonderful for learning something on the go. If you spend long hours commuting to and from your work every day then podcasts are a great way to spend that time productively, investing in yourself. Stop playing games on your phone or scrolling through social media during your commute and instead give yourself the gift of learning.
- YouTube offers a wealth of free resources from explainer videos, documentaries, personal stories and tips on almost every topic under the sun. Probably you already spend time watching videos on Youtube anyways for entertainment and distraction. So why not use the same medium to learn, grow and make some lasting changes?
- TED Talks were created specifically for us to be able to learn something new and learn it for free. With a vast variety of talks and talk series available from experts, influencers and people like you and me with good ideas and different perspectives learning becomes easy. Next time you have a 15-minute break in your schedule why not take the time to listen to a talk and get some new ideas?
- Online Communities are everywhere. Whatever you want to learn it is likely that you are not alone or that there is an online community talking and exchanging on exactly that topic already. LinkedIn, for example, has thousands of online groups where like-minded professionals come together to exchange, learn, discuss and share. Join one of the groups. It’s free, you have nothing to lose and you never know where it may lead you.
- Book and Audio-Books are instrumental in expanding our horizon and gaining new perspectives. If you like reading, then make sure you schedule some time every week to sit down quietly and gain new insights. If reading is not your thing, then audio-books may be a solution for you. You get the same content and can listen to it while doing other things such as driving, cleaning, cooking or commuting.
Our personal growth and professional development is not one of activity but rather a continuous and conscious choice we can make every day. Start creating a habit of investing in yourself. Every day provides a new opportunity to do exactly that. So if you didn’t make it today then make sure you take time tomorrow.
What are other ways you make sure to invest in yourself? Share your tips and suggestions?