Whenever people talk about professional development, particularly when it comes to coaching and online courses, they have a hard time figuring out whether they are making an investment in their future or wasting money.
This question – investment vs. waste of money – isn’t only limited to professional development. It comes up any time we purchase anything that isn’t related to maintaining our basic needs.
That’s because those purchases feel like luxury buys. You know the products and services will make your life easier or help you overcome a persistent problem, but solving those problems doesn’t present the same need as making sure you have food, water, clothing, and shelter every day.
Because professional development feels like a luxury good, you make your buying decision the same way you would with any other luxury purchase.
When buying a watch, you think, “Apple or some cheaper?”
When considering exercise equipment, you wonder, “is Peloton really worth it, or can I get by with free exercise videos on YouTube?”
And in thinking about buying a car, you ask yourself, “should I buy my dream car or go for something more practical?
These concerns are natural, real, and part of what it means to be a responsible adult with a bit of disposable income. So investing in professional development really comes down to deciding what would have the greatest impact on your overall happiness and well being.
This is where the question of investment vs. waste of money gets more interesting and where you should keep a few tips in mind.
Cover Your Basics First
Before you decide whether you should invest in your professional development, you need to make sure you have your basic needs covered. By basic needs, I mean food, water, clothing, shelter, and an emergency fund in case a large expense has to be handled quickly (i.e., car break down, hospitalization, childcare issue, etc.) If you have those basics covered, you can afford to invest in professional development. That’s if you want to do so.
There are many professionals out there who think they can’t afford the coaching or courses they want, but they are routinely spending hundreds of dollars per month on Seamless, UberEats, and GrubHub. In those instances, it’s not that they can’t afford coaching. It’s that they need to take a look at their goals and decide what’s more important to them.
Commit To Your Goals
After covering the basics, the next thing you need to do to determine whether the rewards of investing in personal development outweigh the risks is to set goals.
So often, we put the cart before the horse, and we buy courses and products before we’ve committed to our goals. Instead, we hope these tools will be a quick fix. The elixir we need to guarantee success without a full commitment until that success arrives. We think…
→ Instagram influencer course? Yes, I need that because I want to influence people (and get paid to advertise to my audience);
→→ Facebook ads training? Of course, I need this. How else am I supposed to market my Instagram Influencer status?; and
→→→ Mindset coaching? Yes, I need that too. I’ve just spent a ton of money on my influencer course and FB ads, with nothing to show for it. I need to get rid of my money blocks, so I don’t feel bad about my spending.
Sorry, my friends. It just doesn’t work that way.
Without having a plan in place as to how those programs or self-development tools fit into the goals you have for your career, you’ll definitely feel like you’ve wasted your money. It’s not that those programs don’t work. It’s that they won’t deliver the quick-fix success you were hoping for.
Garnering success with those tools is going to take more time and effort than you could ever imagine. If you aren’t committed to your goals, you won’t have the stamina to keep going when things get rough. So before you invest in anything, committing to your goals is key.
Trust Your Intuition
The third thing you can rely on when thinking about investment vs. waste-of-money decisions is intuition. I know that might sound a bit woo-woo for some people, but let me take out some of the mystique around intuition for you.
All intuition really means is that you’ve decided to trust yourself. Because we cannot predict the future, we won’t know the benefits or consequences of any of our decisions until those things show up. But we can rely on the wisdom we’ve obtained from our past decisions.
Did our decisions in similar situations, help or harm? Did those decisions aid us to become more like the people we want to be? If so, they are more likely to produce the same result this time.
The caveat to using intuition is that it does not work unless you are willing to be completely authentic and transparent with yourself. If you are reckless with your finances or generally use professional development to avoid doing the work you really need to do, then you have to be willing to admit that to yourself. The only way to trust your intuition fully is to trust that, in the end, you’re always willing to tell yourself the truth.
So those are my tips on investment vs. waste-of-money when it comes to professional development coaching and courses.
Got more questions? Use this link to book a call with Woke Up Worthy, and I’d be happy to discuss the risks and rewards with you.