My marketing director, Michelle, often shares stories about her step-mother-in-law, Connie. Connie just turned 98 this month. At 95-ish she decided she wanted to learn German. That led her to take a class at a local university, and then an overseas trip to use her new skill. I’m told she planned to travel on her own, until her son and daughter-in-law intervened and went along with her. And I’m blown away that she still works out daily and can do a yoga headstand.

I told Michelle that I wanted to be Connie when I grow up.

We got to talking about Connie’s secrets to this kind of longevity. We were able to boil it down to two big things. She’s consistent with self-care, and she’s the perfect example of a lifelong learner.

This post digs into the second of those two, what lifelong learning can do for us personally and professionally. It’s the best investment you can make.

Your Development is an Investment, Not an Expense

I’m always amazed at what we’ll spend on a Starbucks, on Amazon, even on others. But we are rarely willing to invest in ourselves. This was a muscle I had to build for myself when I became an entrepreneur. When my employer was paying my way, it was easy to say yes. But when the responsibility landed on me, I had to learn to let go of excuses. I was so focused on what I was “spending” to go to the conference or hire the coach, that I didn’t realize it for what it actually was. It was an investment. Not something that was going to be consumed, and then gone. But something that would build me up, change me, challenge me – and I would always carry that experience with me. It was also an up-leveling – because investing in my own learning consistently gives me the confidence to charge the fees I’ve earned through my education, experience, and results.

 

Ideas for Your Development Journey

I’m a big believer that when you make the decision to invest in yourself, that the “how” will begin to show itself. But the “how” needs a little help to make it work. That’s where the “doing” comes in.

Money an issue? There are so many low-cost or no-cost options to get you started. TED Talks. Podcasts. Coursera. LinkedIn Learning. Scholarships. Early on in my journey I had no money to invest. I belonged to a local training organization that helped me out by granting me a partial scholarship to a conference. In exchange I shared my key learnings with the other members when I returned. That little piece there — the follow through with what I learned – that’s the difference maker. The follow-through and application build your confidence; they reinforce that you made a good investment.

As I grew in my development journey, the business grew. As the business grew I was able to invest more. Today, I have a budget in the business that’s dedicated to my development.

Own Your Journey

I come across too many who are waiting for someone to invest in them. Waiting for their company to write the check to the conference or to pay for organizational membership. Waiting doesn’t work. It’s up to us to go out and create the life we want. The sad thing is that most won’t create it. Fear stops us in our tracks. Fear of looking like an impostor. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of not doing it perfectly. Fear of the responsibility of needing to apply what we learn. Even fear of success. But on the other side of the fear is where all the good stuff is – whatever that might be for you.

I’m reminded of a quote I heard on a podcast. I wish I could remember who said it, but I keep it in my quote journal and refer to it whenever I’m hitting a wall:

“There is nothing more inspiring, empowering, and invigorating than taking complete responsibility for all aspects of your life.” 

Want more tips for lifelong learning and professional development? Download my free Leadership Lessons ebook.

Amy Franko is a sales leader turned entrepreneur, sales keynote speaker, and author. She’s passionate about two things professionally: sales and leadership. She works with professional services, insurance, and technology organizations to improve sales results and build future sales leaders. Her book, The Modern Seller, is an Amazon best-seller and Top Sales World finalist. Learn more and download a free chapter.

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