“An investment in your personal development is the best investment you can make” Jim Rohn
I’m somewhat of a personal development junkie and over the years have bought a ton of books and a lot of courses to support my addiction.
The thing is, I haven’t completed all the courses or read all the books and for some of those that I have completed, I have either only half heartedly implemented the teachings or not implemented them at all.
Recently, as I committed to a few new courses I realised what I’m doing isn’t really the “best investment I can make”.
This isn’t because I don’t think I should invest in self-development, but I finally see that I’m not going about it in the correct way.
Just like any other investment, the correct way to get the best out of self development is to be strategic about it.
Focus on one thing at a time
Right now I have 3 courses I have bought that I want to do and a list as long as my arm of books I want to read.
And all are in a different area of learning
I feel like I’m playing tennis with an octopus and there are a lot of balls coming at me.
Frankly I have no clue which ball to hit first and as a result I’m hitting none!
And this has proven to be a guaranteed recipe for procrastination, wasting money and not getting any of these done.
My new much more strategic approach is to focus on one area of development at a time.
In fact, JD Roth, the author of Get Rich Slowly, believes it’s best to have one goal for the year because this means it not only gets done, it gets done well!
Align with your goals
As I said before the courses and books I have to complete are somewhat random in that they are areas I want to develop but don’t necessarily move me forward to my goals.
This means I’m likely to be wasting my most precious resource on them, my time and that’s in addition to the money I have squandered.
To really energise our goals and add rocket fuel to achieving them, it makes sense that our self-development should equally be aligned with them. While it may sound fun to subscribe to Duolingo and study 3 languages or to buy that course on ancient candle-making, it’s really unlikely to turn out to be anything even close to enjoyable if it isn’t aligned to your goals and plans for your life.
The more strategic and effective approach would be to clarify your goals for the year, to break them down into smaller milestones and then to narrow your self development efforts to achieving them.
Understand your motivation
I’m cursed with shiny object syndrome and many of the courses and books I buy are often driven by me wanting some sort of quick fix in my life.
There are however no quick fixes to anything and buying the course or the book and getting the best out of them means not only completing the course or reading the book, but also implementing the teachings, and this involves an investment of a chunk of time. Sadly I have learnt nothing related to self development happens by osmosis!
Before investing into anything make sure you are doing it for the right reason and that you truly want to commit to putting in the effort. All of the sales pages and book blurbs promise amazing things, but be sure you aren’t just buying those lofty visions and that what you are investing in, genuinely aligns with an area that you want to work on.
Set a self-development budget for the year
Another strategic part of your self development plan should be to set a slice of your budget aside each year for self-development. This not only takes some of the money issue out of the equation when it comes to spending on personal development, it also serves as a boundary to operate within and supports you in creating a disciplined approach to choosing where best to spend your allocated money.
Your budget does not only apply to your money though, it more importantly also applies to your time. This without a doubt outweighs the money aspect given this is the real resource we can never get more of!
Set aside a time budget for doing the self-development work. If you are anything like me chances are you are going to invariably find out that you don’t in fact have the spare time in your busy life or are unwilling to create space in your diary to actually do the work.
It’s one thing to buy the course or the book, but an even bigger thing to find the time to do it and implement it. And if you are really serious about making a change or learning something new, this should be an important part of your quarterly planning.
Think about your investment before committing
I know the saying “do something in haste and repent at leisure” very well as I tend to experience that a lot in many areas of life!
It pays to put a little bit of “thinking space” between reading or hearing about all the wonderful things the course is going to do for your life.
And a 2 day or more, “think about it”, self-imposed rule is not a bad thing as we very easily get caught up in the wonderful vision offered in the sales pitch and all the related juicy bonuses and end up signing up and paying, only to sink into horrible regrets just as soon as we have done so!
And finally, try and make it easy to achieve success by choosing courses and books they give real actionable steps for getting the results you want and this coupled with the alignment to your goals guarantees that your money and time commitment will be the best investment you can make!