You are your own greatest asset. It makes sense then to focus on you by investing in yourself. People that are continually learning about how they can improve themselves are more likely to progress more quickly with their endeavours than those that do not. Investing in yourself can mean anything from signing up to a Master’s programme to taking some time out for meditation and contemplation every day. Whatever it is that you do, investing in you will help you go further in life. There are hundreds of ways in which you can invest in yourself, and here are some ideas to get you started.
Coaching and mentoring are great ways to invest in yourself. Business and life coaching isn’t necessarily cheap but if you find the right coach it is well worth the expense. With mentoring you could look for a professional network, or alternatively consider finding someone that you can offer something to in return. Either way the coach or mentor should be someone who is prepared to push you outside of your comfort zone, at least just a little bit. After all, if you stay in your comfort zone you won’t be progressing anywhere in a hurry.
For these particular methods of personal development to be effective you need to be completely open to the feedback that you get. Coaches and mentors won’t just tell you what you want to hear. Their role is to push you that little bit further, by encouraging you, but also helping you to see your critical development areas. Everyone has blind spots. Blind spots are areas that we are weak in, but that we do not realise we are weak in. Other people do see those weaknesses however. Accepting that these blind spots are real and taking action to fix them rather than getting defensive is essential. Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Steven Berglas (2013) takes this a step further and argues that you have to be ready to accept that change is necessary too. People often don’t much like change, but without change you won’t be able to move forward. As Berglas explains that means not just participating, but committing to the change. As he puts it:
“Coaching cannot change you one iota unless or until you’re really committed — until you have skin in the game”.
Having some “skin in the game” may sometimes mean paying out cold hard cash. However, investing in yourself doesn’t have to cost the earth in this day and age. You can look out for MOOCs. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course and these programmes are either low cost or in many cases even free. Many people might initially feel a bit sceptical about that but it may interest you to know that even the world’s top universities like Stanford offer MOOCs. Type MOOCs into your search engine browser and you’ll find an endless list of options. There are many good providers of MOOCs that cover every single topic imaginable from Applied Cryptology to Latin Migration, and everything in between. You can be sure that whatever you want to learn there is a MOOC out there that serves your purpose. And in this case all you have to do is sign up and attend the online classes.
One way that you must certainly invest in yourself is with your work life balance. Investing time in yourself to relax and do activities that are fun and entirely different from work will allow you to refresh. This will give you the energy that you need for your work when you do come back to it. It will also help you to be able to better nurture your personal relationships with friends and family and to reduce stressors in those areas. Not everyone is in agreement that work life balance is a goal, but the fact is, burned out people don’t perform as well. After all, as motivational speaker Brian Tracy once said:
“Just as your car runs more smoothly and requires less energy to go faster and farther when the wheels are in perfect alignment, you perform better when your thoughts, feelings, emotions, goals, and values are in balance”.
So there’s something to be said for being in balance. Then you’ll be ready for more personal development too.
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.