As my kids prepared for the start of the school year I felt a little jealous of them. I love learning, and the idea of being in a setting with classmates was a reminder that I have not taken a formal class in while. It also made me reflect on how much I have invested in myself and about the value of life-long learning.
Over the years I have earned an undergraduate and graduate degree. I have completed several certifications both related to and outside of my field. I am a graduate of multiple fellowships. I have developed practical skills beyond what I learned in school through various opportunities, trainings, and other resources that helped me do my job better.
I have also invested in myself for personal reasons. I chose to work with a coach to learn how to look at things from a different perspective and have access to an objective sounding board after feeling stuck for a while and realizing that the answer was not rooted in technical know-how. At a time when I was longing for creativity I discovered stamping and paper crafting and reconnected with photography. I pushed myself mentally and physically when I wanted to improve my overall wellness and trained for the Marine Corp marathon.
The trainings that have had the biggest impact are those that have helped me develop soft skills—abilities and traits that help you communicate better and build stronger relationships. I became a better team player, leader and coach, not from developing technical skills, but by learning to negotiate, empathizing in different ways, and broadening my perspectives. Through these I learned about raising my self-awareness and taking the time to self reflect on how to be different and improve interactions. The impact was so powerful that I now work with others to develop their soft skills in my practice.
There are so many opportunities, paths, I would be missing if I did not value learning or did not spend time on me. For instance, I would not be in partnership with Ana. I would not have the skills or confidence to have a coaching practice. My children would not be exposed to different opportunities. We would not travel internationally. More importantly I would not be as satisfied as I am in different areas of my life.
This is what I have learned as a result of investing in me:
1. If you don’t see yourself as an investment, no one else will. Be willing to invest the time, energy and/or resources on yourself. There have been many instances where I have paid for my own professional development out of pocket. Why? Because I think I am worth it!
2. You are never too old to learn. My business does not function like my previous job. Now that I am an entrepreneur I am developing different skills that it takes to run a business, social media, and contracting. If I wasn’t open to learning new skills or processes I would not be able to serve my clients or stay competitive.
3. Choose something you will enjoy. How you want to grow may differ from how others define growth. Don’t let others opinion about how you should develop hold you back from what you enjoy or fuels you. I went through coaching school even though that was not a focus of my job at the time.
4. Spending on yourself is more than just about money. People automatically look at the cost of something and the reality is that you have to determine the time, energy and commitment, in addition to the dollar amount. Consider the impact on your schedule and relationships. More importantly, look at how this will help you achieve what you want personally or professionally.
5. It’s more than just about growing your capacity to earn more money. Expanding your knowledge base, honing a skill is also about you becoming more satisfied in how you interact with others, the quality of your relationships and the depth of your expertise.
6. You may expand your way of thinking. A few years ago I took a class and a nugget that I came away with is that when you gather new information one of three things may happen. You are either confirming or maintaining your existing capacity, adding to your existing knowledge or changing what you know.
7. You benefit professionally AND personally. When you invest in you, it is a chance to connect with individuals that may have similar interests as you and expand your network. It’s an opportunity to improve your quality of life either at work or home by gaining satisfaction that you are doing something for yourself or to carry what you have learned into other areas. I use my coaching skills on a daily basis in my personal life and I regularly recommend books to friends and colleagues.
8. You stay competitive and up to date. Theories, processes, and technology change on a regular basis. By devoting time to your craft, you are staying ahead of the game.
9. Investing in you can take different forms. You can make it as easy or complex as you want. You can educate yourself for next to nothing or pay a premium price. Decide if you want to do something with others or on your own. Spend as little or as much time as you want.
10. Your knowledge, skills, abilities or experiences are transferable. No one can take away your knowledge, skills, abilities or experiences. Where you go they go.
And, speaking of investing in yourself, if you are looking for a professional development opportunity in the Metro DC area, look no further. On October 6, Si Tú Quieres is partnering with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI), with support from State Farm, to lead a one-day professional leadership seminar at their 2015 annual conference in Washington, DC.
We will be sharing tools, tips and resources related to emotional intelligence during the morning and courageous conversations in the afternoon. We are very excited to partner with CHCI where Ana and I first became friends. You don't have to be a member of CHCI to attend. For more information on this and other events: situquieres.co/events. We hope to see you there!
Your Turn: How have you recently invested in yourself?
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