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?
8 thoughts to “Don’t Overlook The Importance Of Personal Development”
“Personal development is not career development.” This one is sure taking some time to learn. I’m headed to Cents Positive this fall (the women’s FI retreat) and I had SUCH a hard time deciding to spend the money on the trip because it has absolutely nothing to do with my career.
Right!? There’s been so many times I’ve declined going to events or paying to learn new skills as I did not see the relevance in how that would help me in my career.. no more of that thinking!
Personal development is why I spend money on AYCE sushi with blogger friends 😉 (Sorry about the tweet spamming though, that was NOT MY IDEA 😂)
Even for traditional retirees, your working career will be shorter than your entire lifespan, so why prioritize one form of development over the one that will impact you longest (and hopefully your job isn’t your entire life!)? And obviously that’s even more important for those of us who plan to shorten our working careers substantially. My personal development is most definitely a work in progress, but I have been much better about prioritizing it for the last few years!
Hahaha so rude of you all for that! 😉
Very true, I think that most people just get so wrapped up in their careers that the development for that trumps everything else. It’s all about setting those actionable goals!
I think you are touching on something important here. In the treadmill of working, kids, and trying to keep up with friends and family, its easy to lose oneself. I have always been rather introspective, but that does not translate into working on the self. I spend time working on learning new coding skills for my profession. I have spent time, although not as much as lately as I got hooked into FIRE. I also like the philosophers. I see parallels between the philosophy I glean from FIRE bloggers and that of the Stoics. I am just starting my journey into reading them. I am working through the autobiography of General Grant at the moment. The stoics, in my early reading, seem to say appreciate what you have while you work to a better tomorrow, because you may not have that tomorrow. As I watch my young son grow up, I see the version of the boy disappear and replaced with the next stage. I love my 4 year old, but I still miss the 3 year old and younger versions of him. I think thats what the stoics mean, and its this FIRE philosophy that will help me spend more time with each moment of my life as time inexorably marches on. Learning to appreciate that, by investing in myself to and to take steps to learn to make myself more available is all a part of that.
Well said! I too am enamored at the philosophical elements that the pursuit of FIRE has brought into my life. It was definitely not something I was expecting. That said I totally understand where you are coming from, tomorrow is never guaranteed so we need to build a life that not only sets us up for future enjoyment, but also for that today!
I thbnik you raise some valid points especially separating your career from personal development. For most people these are synonym to eachother but thats simply not true.
I’ve been working on various things including the basis of taking care of my physical wellbeing. Great blogpost YFK!
Thank you! Absolutely though, so many people out iff taking care of themselves and only realize it until it’s too late. It’s something for everyone to take into account!