For many people, there’s one thing in our lives that often gets overlooked: the importance of Personal Development.
It’s so easy to get caught up with everything that life throws at you that we forget about this incredibly important thing.
For the average American who works until their mid-60’s, it’s very easy to become consumed in your career. After all, if you don’t retire until your 60’s that means you’ll easily spend over half of your life working in your career.
As you spend so much time focused on work, you may find that your career and personal development can become synonymous.
While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there are so many other avenues of growth and development that one can take that have nothing to do with your career.
For those of us who are pursuing FIRE (and even more so for those that will actually retire early), this is especially important.
Not all of us will have those long careers in which we need to grow and advance those skills and qualities relevant to success in our jobs.
Instead, we’ll have a lot more time on our hands for non-career related personal development.
But why wait until you aren’t working?
Spending time on personal development, not necessarily career development, while working is something that everyone should be doing!
Career Development Is Not Necessarily Personal Development
Often you’ll hear this kind of advice from people in a career setting:
“These skills and experiences are needed to get this type of job.”
“Work on these things to advance up to the next level.”
“Grow your network to increase the potential opportunities for yourself.”
These pieces of advice are great for career development and can really help if you take them to heart and take action on them.
Not all apply towards personal development though. Do you really need all the skills you’ve learned on the job to grow as a person? (I know I sure don’t!)
Growing your network can surely apply towards personal development, but this means a completely different thing with the career in context.
In your career this may mean meeting more people with similar jobs, or reaching out to leaders in your company or industry. Personally, this could mean meeting new people who share interests with you or even meeting friends of friends.
In both examples this could lead to opportunities you may never have been exposed to otherwise. With the Personal Development example though, this could lead to other opportunities outside of your career that you could take advantage of either now or at some point in the future.
So while career development is great, personal development is absolutely needed for its own uses!
Focus On Personal Development
Sometimes people don’t know where to start when focusing on personal development.
It helps to create some concrete goals that you can track against and which can help to hold you accountable. I have some personal goals included in my overall goals for this year, which I’m trying to accomplish just as much as my financial goals.
The personal development goals that I have on my list include, working out more consistently, volunteering more, stretching more often, reading more often and stressing less often.
These are just a few examples of the ones that I’m focusing on this year, but the possibilities are really limitless.
Anything you can think of that could help you to become a better person, or reach a meaningful goal can be considered personal development.
There are many things you may not even think of that could be considered personal development.
Goals such as becoming a better listener, working on your confidence levels, embracing empathy, hearing both sides of a debate/discussion/argument, etc. The list can go on and on!
Sometimes personal development goals can take a long time to master or accomplish. Heck some of these goals (looking at you “stressing less”) I’ll be working on over a lifetime!
This is why it’s important to constantly be working on these and to start as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the tougher it is for you to change!
It’s Ok To Spend Money On Personal Development
One thing I have noticed looking back on my past spending habits: outside of recent months, I’ve never really spent any money on personal development.
For example: I don’t spend money on a gym, I’ve never spent money on any classes to learn new skills, I’ve never seen a therapist or had a personal coach, and I’ve bought exactly one book since graduating college (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for those wondering, because Harry Potter = life).
But I’m starting to realize the folly in this. I mean, shouldn’t personal development be a top priority when it comes to what I’m spending my money on? This is my life we are talking about here!
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of free resources out there to take advantage of when it comes to personal development, many of which I use or have used myself.
But sometimes the free resources just aren’t enough to really get the job done.
As an example: for those who like to golf, you can watch as many videos on how to swing golf clubs and read as many articles on how to be good, but sometimes all of this pales in comparison to taking a few lessons from a professional in which they can teach you hands on how to swing better.
For those who may have mental health problems: you can read as many free books or online articles on how to “solve” your problems, but often times that just does not compare to spending the money and going to see a therapist who can really truly help you.
While I’ve lead an extremely fortunate and privileged life where I haven’t ever felt the need to pay for personal development related things, I recognize that there are definitely areas upon which I can improve.
As I’ve now signed up for not one, but two Camp FI events in the past few months, this has really been a change for me in spending on personal development. The things I’ll learn, people I’ll meet and ideas/views I’ll be exposed to will all serve to benefit me now, and in the future.
That kind of stuff is worth spending the money on.
Personal Development is all about the act of making yourself a better person and/or helping you to achieve a higher quality of life.
Only you know what you need to work on and what it will take to get your life to be exactly the way you want it.
So the only question is… what are you waiting for?
There’s no better time than now to get started on your personal development goals!
Just remember, as long as you can maintain the overarching rule of living within your means, don’t hesitate to spend money on personal development where it is needed. It might just be worth it!
Do you spend money on personal development? What sort of personal development goals do you have for yourself?