When it comes to personal development often the second thing we look at is, once we’ve started to research our particular topic or subject, is cost.  We identify what we want to learn, how we want to grow, or what we need to change and then we start looking at the cost, and it’s this cost that can be the driving force behind whether we take a particular route for our personal development.

You hope that whatever you want to develop your employer will pay for it out of the training budget, because let’s face it whatever you learn is likely to help you in your role, and if they say yes, hooray, job done and off you go.  But if they say no, it’s often the end of the road and you decide you won’t progress after all, because why should you have to pay for your own development and pay out of your own pocket for anything that will help your employer.

Unfortunately, when organisations look to cut costs the training budget is one of the first things to be cut, it shouldn’t be in my opinion because if you continue to develop your staff they will be more knowledgeable and productive in the long run, but that’s just my opinion.  There are unfortunately many organisations and many people that think training is a waste of time, and I totally understand why, because often we don’t allow our people the time to embed the learning so there is no return on investment whatsoever, or, we expect our one size fits all approach to learning to actually suit everyone – it doesn’t.

But for you, the individual, how much do you invest in your own personal development?  And I specifically ask about investment rather than how much you spend.  Because if we find the right development it will be an investment in our future.

How much is your gym membership each month?  How much do you spend on subscriptions?  How much do you spend on coffee each day?  Or the latest fad diet?  Did you buy a house or invest in your home?

I’m told, although I haven’t seen the data myself, that we spend less time on the decision to buy a house than we do an outfit to wear to a party, and that we will stretch ourselves financially to buy both the house and the outfit, but rarely will we do the same when it comes to our personal development – we don’t tend to see personal development as an investment in our future, and if we do, most of the time we expect our employer to pay for it for us.

I love to learn – and I’ll do so in ways such as reading a book, completing an online course, gaining an additional qualification or completing a degree and most of these, thousands and thousands of pounds worth, I have funded myself – why?  Because I believe in learning and development and I have seen and felt the difference it has made to my career and to me as a person.

Learning doesn’t have to cost though.  The internet is filled with free courses, free audios, free books and free videos.  A mentor in the workplace doesn’t cost a thing.  The only investment here is an investment of your time – and sometimes we aren’t even prepared to commit the time to our growth.

So if personal growth is on your list of things to achieve this year – before you start looking at courses or researching coaches, or downloading prospectuses, consider first how much you are willing to invest – in time and money to help you grow.

If an hour a week sounds like too much for you to commit then perhaps you need a podcast, audiobook or a video series to listen to on your commute.  If four to seven years sounds like the worst thing in the world then you want steer clear of a doctorate.

Stop thinking cost, and start thinking of investment – you’ll probably be living with yourself for longer than you’ll stay in your current home.


Kelly Swingler is Founder of Chrysalis Consulting, The People and Change Experts and was appointed at the UK’s Youngest HR Director.  Kelly is passionate about helping people find bespoke people solutions to suit the needs of their business. Kelly is the author of Fostering a Mindset for Career SuccessAGILE HR and what’s your excuse for not Overcoming Stress.