In our post “What is Your Personal Development Plan” we talked about the importance of having a Personal Development Plan that highlights the skills and capabilities you feel you need to achieve your big goals and dreams. In addition to talking about the skill set you need, the plan should also discuss which areas you feel that you are already strong in and which areas could use some improvement. In order to improve your capabilities you’ll need to invest in them, whether that is with money, time or both. In a lot of cases you may be able to get your employer to pay for training that you need, or if you have some money saved up you might be able to pay for training on your own. If those options aren’t available to you there are still ways you can invest in your personal development without spending a lot of money.
To the Internet!
There are a ton of free resources on the internet that are just waiting for you to find them. Just type what you’re looking for into your favorite search engine and see what pops up. It may take looking through a few links to find a good match, but you’ll at least get some leads on where to head next. I’ve been wanting to improve my writing skills (feedback welcome in the comments!). In the process of researching another topic I came across a free 30 day writing course that I’m currently working on. This course is self-evaluated, but I find it helpful being given a writing prompt daily that forces me to think about a topic I wouldn’t ordinarily consider and tell a compelling story about it. I feel like I’ve already gotten a great deal of benefit just from trying to write every day and didn’t have to spend a penny on it.
One of the best ways you can learn and grow is by talking with others. There are thousands of twitter chats and online hangouts where you can take a look at what people are saying about the skills you want to learn. Don’t be afraid to jump in on the conversation! Chatting with people who are already skilled at something is a great way to see the best practices for a particular skill or topic. A side benefit is that getting involved in the online community is also a great way to build your network!
Check out some podcasts on topics that you want to develop your skills in. Just like the online chats there is a podcast for almost any subject you can think of and many are free. A great advantage of podcasts is you can listen to them in the car multitask at work. I have several podcasts that I listen to at the gym because for some reason working out puts me in a relaxed mindset where I’m open to listening without trying to jump ahead to the speaker’s next point or conclusion.
The Traditional Approach
It may be a little old school, but there’s always your public library. This is another location where there are thousands of resources for your personal development available to you for free. All you have to do is return them on time. Next time there’s a book you want to read, but aren’t sure you want to spend the money to buy it, take a look at your local library to see if they have it!
Make the time!
Just as important as finding resources is to make the time commitment to doing your personal development. A free resource is absolutely no use to you if you just leave it sitting on the shelf. I recommend blocking out an hour a day, 3 or 4 days a week to get started. Put it on your calendar and stick to it. If circumstances force you to miss the time you set, don’t delete it off your calendar, move it to another block of white space on your calendar and stick to the new time (more on time management coming up in a future post).
Finally, don’t forget to keep working on the areas you are already strong in. Some skills are perishable over time and you can get rusty if you don’t exercise them regularly. Always keep a balance of working on areas you need a lot of work on and really refining the skills you are good at and taking them to the next level!
Tell us in the comments what the most important skill or capability you’d like to see the members of your team work on!
Photo Credit By Yinan Chen (www.goodfreephotos.com (gallery, image)) [see page for license], via Wikimedia Commons