Sharing Our Authentic Work Lives with Our Children
Are You Caught in Reflection?

Is Your Professional Development a "Cost" or an "Investment"?


Here's your question for the day.

Do you see your ongoing professional development as a "cost of doing business" or as an "investment in your future"?

If it's a cost, then it can be cut when times get lean. Other activities will take precedence because on some level you've decided they add greater value to your life and to your growth. 

If your professional development is an investment, though, you will continue to add to this "bank" on a regular basis. You will recognize that your skills and talents are all you have to sell and that investing in those skills is your only form of security, particularly in a tight economy. 

Investing in yourself means you understand that we're living in a world where it's all about the "Start-up Of You" and re-thinking "who's in charge of learning."  You can think of your professional development as a cost, but if you do, you will not be ready for the opportunities of a new economy. 

And if you need further evidence that you should invest in your own professional development, check out this article in The Atlantic on Freelancing as the new Industrial Revolution: 

It's been called the Gig Economy, Freelance Nation, the Rise of the Creative Class, and the e-conomy, with the "e" standing for electronic, entrepreneurial, or perhaps eclectic. Everywhere we look, we can see the U.S.workforce undergoing a massive change. No longer do we work at the same company for 25 years, waiting for the gold watch, expecting the benefits and security that come with full-time employment. We're no longer simply lawyers, or photographers, or writers. Instead, we're part-time lawyers-cum- amateur photographers who write on the side.

Today, careers consist of piecing together various types of work, juggling multiple clients, learning to be marketing and accounting experts, and creating offices in bedrooms/coffee shops/coworking spaces. Independent workers abound. We call them freelancers, contractors, sole proprietors, consultants, temps, and the self-employed.

As the article argues, in a freelance economy, we are developing new forms of job security. One of those is investing in yourself on a regular basis.

So be honest with yourself--do you treat your professional development as a cost or as an investment? 


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Superb question, and as a training professional, a question that needs to asked about a catalog of prodev courses offered in the organization.

I keep breaking it down simply to a few key points:

If it is strongly aligned to core needs of the business- an investment.
If it builds capabilities that are strategically important for future growth and opportunity- an investment.

Too often, I see prodev catalogs that are bloated. Sometimes depts build up the catalog thinking "more is better", but when taking a critical look, it's actually costly overhead. Tired courses, low usage, skills that aren't strongly aligned with current or future needs...

so, the question is not just something for self-reflection, but something to ask in a strategic sense for the organization's professional development catalog.

The right analysis could ensure that the department is seen as an investment vs overhead.

Excellent point, David! Everyone could benefit from a more strategic look at professional development opportunities.

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