Saving for Personal Development

July 8th, 2015

I think it goes without saying (or maybe not, since I’m gonna say it) that we value professional development a lot in the field of student affairs. Or maybe it just seems like we should value it – that it will help us be better professionals, and therefore we ought to do our best to incorporate it into our work. Whatever the case, professional development has come to play an important role in the lives of many student affairs professionals, including mine.

What does this mean? This means that I try to attend at least one professional conference a year and engage with some professional organization beyond that conference – whether it’s on a conference committee, a task force, or as part of the advisory board.┬áIt also means engaging with colleagues online – through Twitter, Facebook, blogging, Gchat, etc. – and I do mean “engaging,” not just watching. I have actively participated in conversations, whether as the moderator for #SAchat or just discussing trends or topics with folks to stay current. I also read – blog posts, articles, books – you name it, I’ll read it.

But lately – okay, not just lately – I feel a little #SAoverwhelmed. It seems like even in my down time I’m thinking about what I need to do to improve my resume, learn more about student affairs, and generally be a better professional. When I talk to friends about needing a break from Twitter and Facebook, they don’t understand – probably because they don’t engage about work-related stuff to the extent that I do. They don’t get that I spend my own money on professional development when I’m not funded by my institution. And lately, I’m wondering if they don’t have it at least partially right.

Do I gain from my investment in my own professional development? Absolutely. But what I haven’t asked myself in the past several years is what I’ve lost by investing so much in professional development – I’ve lost money, time and energy that could also have been spent on personal development. I don’t mean to imply that this is an either/or situation – I think it’s important to invest in both simultaneously. That’s not what I’ve done, though – I’ve invested almost exclusively in professional development.

So to reset the balance in my life, I’ve decided to spend the next year (or more) investing in personal development. What does this mean? It means less money spent on conferences, more money spent on traveling for fun – seeing friends and spending time with my family. It means less time spent online engaging in deep discussions about the state of student affairs, more time spent online talking with friends, sharing personal experiences and hobbies (like cross stitching – yay!), and taking myself less seriously. It means reading less work-related literature and exploring some of my other interests – both online and in real live books.

No, I don’t expect to invests in personal development exclusively – then I’d just be tipping the scales the other way. But until I’ve reached a better balance in my life, I will be investing in it more.

So as I start on this journey, I’d like to know – how have you invested in your personal development?

  • Phil Covington

    Well said! While it’s not earth-shattering, I attempt to balance my reading with at least one personal interest book for each work-related book I consume.

    • Thanks for reading, Phil. And hey, I consider all steps towards balance to be good steps :).

  • Jeannette Passmore

    I make it a point to read for fun, mostly mindless fiction. I also meditate and have weekend breakfasts with my husband. I’ve been considering pulling out my craft supplies and spending some time with those as well.

    • Yay for crafting! I’ve rediscovered my love of it after getting totally absorbed in reading for so many years. Some day I’ll get down with the meditation – I know it would be good for me. Thanks for reading and sharing, Jeannette!

  • JenniferKeegin

    There is so much embroidery to be done! I want to do like Binghamton stuff but also Star Wars, Adventure Time – just more!! Maybe Etsy one day…

    • I love Etsy – basically, I get enough orders to cover my costs for my cross stitch. It’s like free crafting!

  • I have invested in my PERSONAL development by NOT investing in my professional one. I blog about what I care about, not work. I read novels for fun. Can’t remember the last time I read a professional book. I read articles, but only if quick and usually found by someone else. I color. I took facebook off my phone and twitter will soon be next. GOOD FOR YOU! No JOB will hug you at night, cry at your funeral, or really, even remember you. Self and family first.

    • I agree wholeheartedly with the idea that not investing in professional development can be a way to invest in your personal development – great point, Monica! And I’m totally thinking about taking up coloring – in the time I have left after reading all the fiction and doing all the cross stitch ;).