Learning is a Top Priority

book pileAs a soloprenuer and consultant, I realize how important it is to continuously put learning as a top priority. When I started my first business 11 years ago, one of the best pieces of advice I was given was to read a business or marketing-related book every weekend, in my spare time. I think this is necessary for every professional.

Whether you have just started a new job or a new business, you can quickly become inundated with all that is needed to grasp your new role. Even if you have been in the same work environment for years, you can easily get caught up in the day-to-day mill of things to do.

Learning by reading books related to your field and job role will help you during a new transition and then continue to motivate you and keep you interested in your work. Reading and other forms of professional development can increase your productivity while supplementing information you can’t learn quickly on your own.

Today’s Problem with Making Time for Professional Development

There is a problem I have seen in my community. I believe it is a universal problem today. The problem is that many people don’t think they have enough time for their own professional development. They are too busy. And because of this misconception of time, they delay in reading, getting more training, or going to seminars for professional development so that they can get more done in their jobs. Sure, they meet their goals at work and satisfy their employers and/or clients, but they stall in their careers.

Priority CircleBy not actively learning through your own professional development, by not making the time and limiting your ability to learn new things, you are hurting your own career progression. You are stalling your career in the long term for a short term gain. And the gain is to the benefit of your employer and/or your clients more than it is for you. This creates a Win-Lose condition. Those around you win with your hard work while you lose by steadily becoming obsolete.

Ouch, that is probably hard to grasp. So let me say it again – you will become obsolete. In your professional career, whether a business owner or employee, you need to continuously stay ahead of the curve. You need to always be working on professional development. And you must make the time to learn, for your own benefit.

Reflecting on the Past Year

As I look at the year of 2015 in review, I realize how grateful I am that I have put learning as a top priority in my life. When I closed my environmental business over one year ago, I wasn’t exactly sure how the final transition into being a management and marketing consultant would go. Sure, I had plenty of experience and knowledge to share. And it definitely has been a new challenge with trials and tribulations. I expected this with the risks of moving into new territory. But it was the knowledge I had gained through reading, seminars, and other professional development that helped me the most.

The knowledge I gained from re-positioning my career in an entirely different industry niche – a niche where I needed to understand new work, learn new habits, and find better ways to serve clients in my new role – has been more than I could have imagined. Much of my own growth this year has been learning more about me, my strengths and weaknesses, and about my community. Yet that growth came from not only experiencing new developments, it came from reflecting on what I learned previously and applying ideas gained from those reflections.

Because I went further out of my comfort zone to try new things, I was able to better grasp the impact of what I had learned and how to apply it to my own experiences. Self-development is an important extension from what you get by reading, going to seminars, and training. And it requires taking more time beyond being taught to reflect and evaluate what you have learned and how it applies to you. In today’s world, you cannot wait for someone to teach you. You need to make learning a priority.

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