Personal development is a lifelong process of developing new and existing skills so that you’re able to direct your career – and life – in the way that you want.
As a trainer, you’re probably more aware of the benefits of personal development than most but it can still be hard to find the time when life is so busy.
The thing is that, in my opinion, personal development should always be a priority for trainers. It’s good for your training career, your confidence and your wellbeing.
But, when time is so precious, how can you make time for personal development?
1. Visualise your goals
The first step to staying on track and using your time effectively is to develop a personal vision of what you want to achieve in the long- and short-term. This can help stop you from getting distracted.
What skills will you need in order to reach these goals?
Are they skills you have that need improving or do you need to learn a skill from scratch?
- Where am I now?
- Where do I want to be?
- How am I going to get there?
Try to make the goals you visualise as specific as possible. For example, you might feel that you want to become more productive or get better at time management but what does that look like?
A goal might be that you want to work a four-day week and take Fridays off for other personal development activities.
2. Create a timeline
Next, try creating a timeline for what you want to achieve and the steps you need to achieve it. Create a plan for what needs to come first, how long each step will take and how you can fit it in around your training commitments.
If we use the example above about better time management – specifically reducing your hours to a four-day week -, your timeline might say that you want to achieve this by the end of September and, therefore, need to identify and learn to use productivity tools that can save you up to X-amount of hours per week.
On your timeline, you can break down what you want to achieve between now and that September deadline, e.g.
- Task one: This week, make a note of how much time I spend on everything, including surfing social media, taking phone calls or making cups of tea, etc. Look for patterns, such as time wasting, less productive times of the day, activities I put off, areas of my day that could be made easier with productivity tools.
- Task two: By next Friday, I need to have sourced an accounting system that lets me convert quotes into invoices and automatically generates letters chasing late payments, as well as letting my accountant log in.
- Task three: By the following Friday, I need to have set up the invoice and quote templates and connected my CRM database to my accounting software, as well as linking my bank account feeds/PayPal to it.
- Task four: Create forms using Google Docs that I can share with my clients and we can all comment on without the need to send multiple versions. Do by Monday 20th
- Task five: Move my diary to an online calendar that can be accessed via all of my devices and shared with others. Block out time for important tasks on the daily schedule. Do by Tuesday 21st
The productivity goal will probably have several smaller goals, so you will need to add all of them to your timeline. Try to break everything down into small, achievable tasks that will be able to fit in, even if you’re busy.
The same process would apply to any personal development goal, whether you want to learn a new language, improve your stress management, become more assertive, learn to paint, or achieve a new qualification.
3. Get started
They say you shouldn’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today, and I think that’s definitely true for your personal development.
Once you know what you want to achieve and have a plan to get there, all that’s left is to get started.
4. Record your development
As you work towards each personal development goal, it’s important to keep a record of what you have done so that you can track your own progress. See how far you’ve come whenever you need the motivation to keep going.
5. Review, reflect and revise
As a trainer, you know how important it is to review, reflect on and revise any new learning and development.
I would recommend setting time aside in your diary at least once a quarter to plan your personal development.
- What have you achieved in line with your goals and vision for the future?
- What have you found difficult?
- Is there something else you’ve realised you’ll need to do to accomplish a goal?
- If so, what do you need to do to make it happen?
- Do your goals still reflect what you want to achieve?
- Are you having fun? / Does what you’re doing energise you?
The benefit of taking stock like this is that you can consciously shape your personal development around what feels right for your life or career at any given time.
It’s easier to research information, such as suitable courses, or seek out relevant contacts when you know exactly what you want to achieve. You also find that you’re able to be proactive and present in the decisions about your life rather than bouncing from one situation to the next without a purpose.
In my experience, the steps above give you a road map for making personal development a life-long journey of discovery.
What are your thoughts on personal development for trainers? What is important to you in terms of your own personal development? How easy do you find it to include personal development in your life right now? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below.