It’s so easy to get into the habit of always prioritising the urgent – the most demanding client, the craziest deadline, that thing that just needs to be done. Many of us work like that, and the hit you get when you get that thing done is a great feeling.  That is until you’ve made the next cup of coffee and the next urgent thing pops up…

It’s tempting to blame others for this, but in the end you have to take responsibility for your time and your life.

So – why should you focus on personal development, and how do you find the time to do it?

First up – don’t be so hard on yourself! I did many more training courses in my decade long corporate career but have so many more real skills from my self-employed life. It’s easy to lose sight of this in the chaos – so take the time to breathe and think.  Think of all the new things you have done this year, month, this week, today.  Write it down.  Tell someone about it – your partner, your colleagues, your clients, your friends. See – you really have developed.

Now you’re feeling better let’s get to the heart of it. If you don’t invest in yourself then why would anyone else invest in you?

If you aren’t on top of your core areas and developing new ones then over time your appeal will be eroded. Not tomorrow, not next week, but over time those skills that once set you apart will fade.

So what should you choose develop? The things that will make a difference to your business? The things you enjoy? The things your potential clients are asking for? The things your competitors do better than you?

There are many different ways of trying to plot a rational development plan. But for me the key is this: Do Something.

I admit that the enjoyment is often the fuel for what I choose to do. I’m very good at backfilling the business justification! I find if I’m enjoying and am passionate about something then good things will flow from that energy and enthusiasm.

Your development may be on something that you are already exceptional at but is needed to stay ahead of the game. Other times it will be on areas of weakness, where you decide that you want to improve. If it’s the latter – remember to think if delegation or outsourcing is the real answer, rather than trying to force yourself into something you don’t really want to do or that will improve your or your businesses future.

Whatever it is you decide to do – commit to it. Set aside time each week – whether to listen to podcasts and webinars, get your head in a textbook or to reflect on what you’d like to do differently next week. Always put your learnings into practice – all my lovely clients seem to be impressed if I (occasionally!) say “I’ve just learned this, so I’m really keen to use it with you, but bare with me!”

I would love to hear about how you ensure you develop yourself, and maintain the focus on this amongst other priorities. And if you take just one thing from this, remember – do something for you – and the rest will follow!