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Why Investing in Yourself Is the Best Investment You Can Make

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Ambitious professionals can increase their workplace value and relevance by taking charge of their career development. Not long ago, employers helped loyal workers build their careers. Today – as it grows more common for workers to job hop – employer-provided career development is becoming increasingly difficult to find. 

Accordingly, it’s up to you to promote your success. By learning new skills and gaining new experiences, you can improve your ability to serve in your current role and set the foundation for success in the future.

Life Is About Quality – Not Just Quantity

Before you embark on your career development journey, you should take a moment to think about the big picture. Many ambitious professionals make the mistake of letting their career goals overshadow their personal lives.

Quality of life and personal successes are equally as important as career advancement. However, paying too much attention to either your personal or professional life can lead to an unsatisfying imbalance.

Today, the scales of work-life imbalance typically tip towards work, as the now digitally-connected world keeps professionals tethered to their jobs 24 hours a day. The United States, for example, ranks 30th out of 38 countries in work-life balance.

Typically, the path toward an excessive workload begins with taking on too many responsibilities. Reclaiming your personal life begins with learning how to say “no.” Also, it’s easy to get caught up in perfectionism. By relinquishing the need for everything to be just so, you can relieve some of the burden involved with your work.

Outside of the office, you can promote work-life balance by learning to unplug. Time away from incessant work reminders will allow you to live in the moment and enjoy what life has to offer. Finally, take time to care for yourself. Exercise can give you a natural influx of endorphins. Endorphins help you to relax and maintain a positive demeanor.

Planning for Success!

Counterintuitive as it may seem, career advancement begins with personal development. If you’re new to career development, start by getting in the habit of stepping outside of your comfort zone regularly. You should aim to expand your skill set beyond your current role. You can start by taking online classes to gain skills that are in high demand by your employer.

Despite your learning vehicle, clearly define your goals. Commit them to a written plan. Figure out the skills that you intend to learn every year, and plan to complete a substantial course every quarter.

Choose your lessons carefully. It’s important to choose courses that will offer tangible opportunities. Your manager or a human resources representative can help you figure out what new skills can increase your value in the workplace. As you work through your career development plan, remain open to change. Make sure that your plans align with the evolving demands of your career. 

Also, stay informed about how your commitment to continued learning will help you reach your goals. This way, you’ll build a mental buttress that will shore up your resolve as you work to advance your career.

The Writing’s on the Wall

Companies such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft, influence millions of people around the world. However, no leading organization is content in its current role. The world’s leading organizations are always striving to surpass previous successes. Facebook estimates its value at $600 billion. The social media giant reports 1 billion users per month. Google is valued even higher at $830 billion.

Despite this kind of phenomenal success, these organizations want to do more. Facebook, for instance, is exploring the idea of expanding its social media platform using augmented reality. The company hopes to deliver remarkable experiences to users around the world.

Meanwhile, Google is working with artificial intelligence to promote the global adoption of computer-assisted technology in consumer homes. Similarly, Amazon is branching out from retail into commercial finance. All organizations desire growth. You can increase your value to employers by learning skills that will help your organization to achieve its goals.

Figuring Out Your Desires

Sometimes, career planning is easier said than done. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is an excellent tool for assessing your personal and professional goals. The bottom and widest part of Maslow’s hierarchy begins with survival needs, such as food and water.

The next level up focuses on the human need for security and safety – whether physical or financial. Next, Maslow’s hierarchy emphasizes the need for love and belonging. Another level up, the pyramid concentrates on self-esteem, self-worth and self-empowerment.

Moving up Maslow’s hierarchy, the pyramid focuses on the need to be understood by others. This section encompasses curiosity, purpose and understanding. The next level of the hierarchy highlights the need for symmetry and order. The top of Maslow’s pyramid culminates in self-actualization.

By thinking about how Maslow’s theory applies to your personal and professional desires, you can develop a satisfying career plan while simultaneously finding personal fulfillment.

How have you invested in yourself already this year? Share your story below!

Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.

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