How much are you investing in your self improvement?
How much are you spending on brunch?
These two totally unrelated questions are actually closely intertwined, because the majority of us, whose careers are still on the rise, have financial constraints. Spending or investing in one activity or item often means having less to spend on the other.
Or, if you do not have financial constraints, then congratulations, you may still need to evaluate your values system.
What I have observed from my own network of acquaintances and colleagues, is that the majority of them have their values system leaning towards materials goods that offer immediate satisfaction like going to happy hour, a Saturday night party or the latest electronic gadget. While some may say I am only referencing a skewed sample based on my network, I am not looking to start a debate, I am simply reporting my observations. What if I challenged you to observe your own network, would you find cases that affirm the same behaviour? Where long term ingredients for success are traded for material goods and activities that allow the individuals to live their best lives in the present? After all, YOLO, right?
So if they are spending on these items and events, then what’s left to invest in their continuing education and self improvement?
Have you ever had thoughts along the lines of: “I need the latest iPhone / Samsung Galaxy / any other electronic device” and in turn, have considered items pertinent to the furthering of your career in the following light?
“I can take this $159 course later after I get my phone.”
“I can save on my magazine subscriptions (let’s say it’s to an educational magazine like HBR, Wired, TIMES) and put those savings toward my phone.”
So what do you value? A new phone that can reflect a desired social status or the intrinsic value of knowledge? Guess we have a clear winner here and it’s not knowledge.
So, IF you say you really want to advance in your career but you are investing your time and money in happy hours, partying, vacations and electronic gadgets you can’t really afford, then your actions do not align with your words. What you WANT is a successful career, what you are investing in, are products of immediate satisfaction and not long term gain.
IF you really want to advance your career, common sense would tell us that to advance to the next level, you need a next level skill set. Where are you going to get these skills? Through learning on the job? Sure, but there are many other conduits to learn, whether it’s attending a conference to expand your industry network and insights, signing up for an online course to brush up on the industry’s latest tips and tools, or surrounding yourself with topic experts who can teach you a thing or two.
All of these things require time and money, both of which you have a limited quantity of. So how are you spending these precious, limited resources?
Don’t read a book on a self improvement or self help and then think it will magically repair or further your career, you have to put the recommendations into ACTION first. If you have a goal, you have to ensure that your actions align with said goal.
GOAL SETTING || AN EXAMPLE
I want to save for a down payment on a home within the next three years. I earn four thousand dollars per month and the down payment is twenty thousand dollars.
In order to save twenty thousand dollars within the next three years, you will have to save $556 per month for the next thirty sixth months. This means you will prioritize this goal by setting up a separate bank account where $556 is automatically deposited into a bank account and remains untouched for the next thirty six months until you have fulfilled your savings goal.
Travel, gadgets, rent, food, and everything else takes a backseat to this goal, because you have made it your priority. Ask yourself, can you commit to doing this? Success is not reserved for the lucky few, it is reserved for the disciplined few.