I was talking to an HR professional last week about one of my favorite topics – the importance of lifelong learning. She and I meet every so often because we challenge each other. We have 4 Master’s degrees between the two of us and our shared love of learning means that every time we get together, we both leave exhausted from thinking so hard. We all need people in our lives who challenge us like that!
When we met last week, we got into a deep discussion about the “entitlement mentality” when it comes to personal and professional development. Some people expect that their company should pay for ALL of their growth – membership to trade organizations, learning and development programs, leadership initiatives, and tuition for continuing education.
We both agreed that it would be ideal if all organizations could invest on some level in the growth and development of their employees, but it’s just not the reality. So what’s a professional to do? Do you sit around and let your skills go soft? Do you let technology pass you by? Do you watch younger professionals pass you as they climb the ladder? Do you spend all of your time complaining about the fact that the company won’t invest in you?
Our answer was a resounding HECK NO! You invest in yourself.
- You find ways to learn and grow, regardless of whether your company is footing the bill.
- You make sacrifices, recognizing that both time and money are involved in becoming a better version of yourself.
- You surround yourself with people who challenge you to grow, with people who aren’t afraid to ask you the tough questions and hold you accountable as you strive to achieve your goals.
- You find a way to learn something new every day.
- You ask a lot of questions and spend time reflecting on where you are and how you will get to where you want to be.
- You take action! You set goals and work to achieve them.
One thing is certain – time and money will be limited. They almost always are. But you make choices. You determine whether or not your future is worth investing in. You decide if YOU are worth investing in. You never know…when you start investing in your growth, perhaps your company will follow suit. But even if they don’t, you’ll have learned something that will stay with you forever. And you will certainly be better because of it!