This past weekend I attended the Tribe Conference, a gathering primarily for writers. It was a really terrific event, and while all the speakers did a wonderful job, a few of them made points that struck me more deeply. I'm sure you can relate.
One of those was Dan Miller, an enormously successful speaker and author, who's session was about the importance of investing in yourself. In his talk, he cited Brian Tracy's advice, which is to invest 3% of your income on personal growth and development, and then to bump it up to 5% once you pass $50,000.
Could you do that? Investing in myself has been a high priority of mine for quite a while now, but I was surprised to see how many people around me didn't seem to have a personal investment plan, despite attending this event. I don't want this for you. I want you to prioritize it, despite the actual (and perceived) costs.
Why Invest in Yourself and Your Organization?
First of all, I'm not just talking about throwing money at the latest software, or buying fancy computers, or getting team t-shirts, though that would be snazzy. I'm talking about the "deeper" investments for personal and professional growth, which leads to added value and growth for your organization.
When you invest in yourself personally, you knowingly—and unknowingly—apply that new knowledge and experience everywhere around you. So, even then, you're benefitting your organization. And when you invest in yourself for your job, or on behalf of your organization, your directly applying that new knowledge to your role and your cause. Intentionally investing in yourself also often provides renewed energy, focus, determination, know-how, and purpose. So, why not get on board?
Invest in Micro-Learning
Mico-learning is a fancy, hyphenated word I made up for a category that includes books, podcasts, webinars, videos, email lists, and those kinds of things—honestly, because I wasn't sure what else to call it! ;) But this includes anything that is focused, small, and easily consumable. These examples are what the majority of us would turn to first as a learning opportunity, or personal investment. And, of course, most of these items are free, or can be acquired cheaply, so it's an easy sell.
In fact, because they're all around you, my advice would be to take advantage of these kinds of media weekly, if not more frequently. People who are always learning and trying to better themselves in some way are likely to be the ones that make a bigger difference, are valued more at their organizations, lead others more successfully, and generally do better overall. You may have even heard the phrases "leaders are readers" or "leaders are learners." It's true! I guarantee the people you most admire, from business leaders to celebrities, invest in themselves in these ways.
Invest in Live Events
In the world we now live in, there are opportunities at every turn to watch events online, participate in webinars, and connect digitally with influencers and peers. However, there is still no replacement for attending in-person. It's hard to replicate that feeling of a live event. It's more invigorating and motivating. And the connections made there are stronger than they would be online.
I was reminded of that this past weekend. Right now, I probably watch a webinar each week, and I also belong to a membership site with monthly video trainings and a Facebook group. But as I sat there with a group of peers, took notes in a real notebook, had conversations after each session, and shared meals with others who are trying to grow, I remembered, yet again, that there is just no substitute.
Depending on your budget, I understand this could be a large financial commitment. Most one-day events are around $100 or less, but multi-day events could easily be several hundred to several thousand, plus travel. And that's not always feasible. But I would highly encourage you to plan for at least one in-person conference each year. You won't regret it!
Invest in Down Time
I'll let you define "down time" for yourself since we're all a bit different. Some of us are extroverts and some of us are introverts. We have difference preferences, and things that light us up. For me, this looks like a day of binge-watching Netflix, coffee with a friend, a few hours at the movies, or if I'm really lucky, a trip. Can you tell that I'm an introvert? ;)
But the point is to find something that will renew your energy and breathe life back into your spirit. It's vital to your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. And, most importantly, don't wait until burnout. Do it regularly. Maybe making consistent time comes only in small increments, like 30 minutes or an hour each week. That's totally fine. See what works for you, and what you can manage, without rescheduling or pushing it back until you theoretically have "more time."
I also think, however, that you should schedule larger blocks of time (like several days) on an annual basis. Call it a vacation, call it a personal retreat, or call it your "me time." It doesn't matter what you call it, only that you take it.
Investing in yourself, and in turn, your organization, will be worth far more in the end than what the actual costs were. In my opinion, personal growth and investment is priceless. See if you can take the first step this week, even if it's just making a plan for your action steps! Once you get in a rhythm with it, you'll wonder why you didn't start sooner.
(PSST—If you'd like to read all of my notes from the Tribe Conference, you can do that here on my personal blog.)
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I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.