I imagine you have a vision for how you want your career to unfold and an expectation of what you want to happen but are you supporting these aspirations with the right actions? Do you have a development plan to help you get there? Are you investing in yourself to ensure you progress and stay relevant in the way you need to be successful?

Investing in yourself will pay dividends

Many people deliberate when it comes to investing in themselves and they don’t pursue development initiatives that will propel them forward. How do I know this? I have worked with hundreds of women who say, ‘I’d love to find a mentor, but I just can’t afford to do that right now”. Or “I’d love to attend that conference, but I couldn’t possibly ask my boss”.  Or “I would love to spend one morning next week thinking more deeply about this business project, but I could never do that given what’s on my to-do list”.

There will always be reasons not to keep your head down in your work. The greatest limitation to not investing in ourselves is often FEAR. We all have fears, yet it’s the ability to act despite those fears that empower us to make career-defining decisions to invest in ourselves.

I have made investing in myself a priority. Every year I invest in books, courses, and training. I also employ a coach or work with mentors. It’s just something that I do, and I love it. The truth is I spend thousands of dollars every year investing in myself because I want to learn, grow, change, and celebrate my successes.

You have a choice

You can either use your own money to invest in activities or you can ask for your organisation to support you.

If you choose the former, here is a guide as to how much to invest every year. Some experts recommend that we invest 0.05% of our gross revenues into our development, while others suggest 3%. I think both options are excellent if you are not being supported by your boss.

How can you get your boss to foot the bill for your development?

When people talk to me about the RISE Programs, they often say, “should I ask my boss to pay?”. My response is always an emphatic yes! After all, what is the worst that can happen? They say no.

Your chances of a favourable outcome increase exponentially if you approach the subject prepared and ready to engage. This is your opportunity to be articulate, clear, and compelling in your request. Even if you are not successful this time, if you do this well, you’ll make an impression that will support you next time.

The secret to asking your boss to pay is to talk about your contribution more than what it is you want! The idea is to demonstrate not only your value but the benefits back to the organisation. This is why preparation is key.

Here are my three tips for building your case:

  1. Provide clear examples and include data where you can
  2. Demonstrate specific benefits back to the organisation and align them to the company’s goals and ambitions
  3. Make the business benefits compelling but keep it conversational.

If you’d like more tips on how to ask your employer to invest in your career, take a look at our Conversation Guide, which we provide to those wanting to enrol in the RISE Accelerate Program, our women’s career advancement program.

Finally, challenge your mindset

When it comes to your career, it is your responsibility to know your strengths and your special talents and nurture those capabilities, so they give you a competitive edge.

People who have brilliant careers know it is up to them to drive their career development opportunities. They know they cannot leave it to their boss, mentor, sponsor, not even the universe! It’s their responsibility.

Investing in oneself is not a selfish act, it is a smart one.

If you’d like to learn more about ways to invest in yourself, take a listen to Episode 2 of the Your Brilliant Career podcast called Investing in Yourself.