This weekend has been very busy! Not the usual type of busy weekend of socialising, hobbies and family catch-up, but three full-on days of investment in me. Now if you’re imagining that I disappeared off to a spa, then, (sadly) that’s not correct. No, I’ve actually spent the last three days investing in my future. I’ve sat through three days of intensive training in an area of personal development that I believe will support my future aspirations.
Investing in our own self development is probably unusual for a lot of people. There are doubtless hundreds of reasons why we might not invest in our own self development on a regular basis, but I don’t intend to delve into that here. Instead I want to look at why it IS important that we undertake regular self development.
For those of us who are employed, our employers probably provide at least a minimal level of continuous professional development (CPD) so that we can maintain or enhance our skills base. This makes good business sense for our employers, as a highly or suitably skilled workforce will enable the company to stay ahead of the competition. It also makes good business sense for us on a personal level, as enhanced skills will clearly make us more valuable to our current and future employers.
But should this be the end of our CPD, or is there more we can and should do? Well, that really depends on your aspirations and interests, I guess. However, if you’re following this blog, then I’m guessing that you’re looking for a bit more out of life than you’re currently experiencing. And who has responsibility for ensuring that the goals you aspire to come to fruition? (Do I need to answer that?!)
As I’ve said in previous blogs, in order to achieve our goals we need to take action but sometimes this can be difficult, because we don’t know what the first step should be. It’s in cases like this that we should be looking into enhancing our knowledge and/or skills in support of our goal. This can be as simple as buying a book on the subject, reading it and then taking action.
Or maybe we just need to talk to someone more experienced or watch a DVD on the subject. Or, as I did, we can just go for the intensive formal training, and really get immersed in the subject! It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons of each method and ensure that each type of CPD is relevant and appropriate for our current state of knowledge, whilst also bearing in mind time commitment and costs.
Just to quickly touch on cost. How much should we spend on our own CPD each year? Well, as a rule of thumb, the view is that we should spend around 10% of our income on our own personal development every year. That might seem a lot, but if we’re serious about achieving our dreams, then it will be money well spent.
So anyway, here are a few of the main things I learned this weekend:
- Sometimes when we gain most of our CPD via books, the internet and colleagues it can be difficult to assess whether we’re moving in the right direction. Attending a course being run by experts helps us to validate that the path we’ve taken so far is moving us in the right direction. Alternatively it could help us to re-assess our direction of travel and make appropriate adjustments sooner rather than later.
- I got to meet the experts! This can be quite exciting. Listening to people who have already walked the path we want to walk is very motivating and that rubs off and gives us a boost to take back to our ‘ordinary’ lives, helping us re-focus and hopefully make changes sooner.
- As well as meeting the experts, I met other people who are also interested in the same things as me. Sometimes when we’re working on our goals, we can feel quite isolated. Being able to network with like-minded people gives us another dose of motivation and also lets us increase the number of people we can reach out to in the future.
- And ultimately, I increased my knowledge of the subject area significantly. This is the great thing about doing a ‘total immersion’ type course. Whilst three days intense CPD is tiring, it’s very time efficient, and for busy people, this can be very important.
But like all types of self-investment, the value isn’t in the learning, it’s in the doing. I could just walk away from the three days training I’ve received feeling that I’ve already made a difference in my life. But this wouldn’t be true; yes, I’ve made a huge difference in my level of knowledge in the subject matter, but without now putting that knowledge into action, it will be of no benefit whatsoever!
So here I am, on a Sunday evening, tired, but enthused to take the next steps on my aspirational journey. Over the coming weeks and months, my newly acquired knowledge will be turned into action, and the sooner, the better, because as the days pass, the energy and enthusiasm we draw from such events begins to diminish until we lose the confidence to get moving, and as the saying goes, we must ‘use it or lose it’.
So where are you fitting your CPD into your life? Are you supporting your goals with appropriate self development activities? Are you dedicating 10% of your income to enhance your own personal brand? Think carefully about these questions and consider making any adjustments needed as an investment in looking after your future self. You deserve it!
So what do you think? Has self-investment helped you achieve your goals? Leave a comment and let me know!
Photo: The New Institute