What Can't You Afford To Do In Your Career?

We all know a person like Chelsea. She is that super mom. She is a working mother. She volunteers for every big assignment, as well as bakes organic gluten and nut-free brownies (and really makes them-- rather than buying a batch and re-boxing) for the PTA bake sale (when we used to have bake sales) and helps a colleague with a project on a tight time frame.

Chelsea finds time to do everything for everyone except herself. Chelsea is doing the one thing she cannot afford to-- she is not investing in herself and her career.

The symptoms of this disease can vary. It can be not attending networking events, and for others, it is not staying up with the latest industry developments or working on their professional branding. Many don't want to pay out of pocket for these opportunities, with companies and law firms cutting back on expenses.

Not spending time on your career is very short-sighted-- just as you invest money for their future-- you need to invest time and money in your career development.

As I told one audience, there is nothing I would rather do on a weekday night than sit on my couch drinking a glass of wine while watching the Real Housewives of Wherever... and I know if I do this, I will be happy. Still, I also know that if I do this every night, I am not investing in myself or my career, and in the long run-- like not investing for retirement-- I will be unhappy as someone else may have an opportunity that I missed.

Now I know your time and money are valuable and not unlimited-- so I want you to think strategically about how you invest them.

You first need to think about what you are trying to achieve in your career.

Do you want better business development skills, public speaking opportunities, a broader network, stronger relationships with your client or others in your network, or more significant expertise?

Once you understand your goals, think about the various ways you can get there.

For example, is it becoming more engaged in an affinity bar, hiring a coach, or creating a networking plan?  After you determine your objectives, you should assess the time, cost, and potential outcomes are for each investment(could one activity help with multiple goals).

For example, you could go to 20 free networking events trying to meet someone in your industry, or you can pay to go to one industry-specific conference and maybe meet several new people.

If you have spent numerous hours trying to do business development without success, could a coach help catapult you? If you have been doing one-on-one dinners or drinks-- could you bring more people together and only use one night out?

You must then decide the best investment of your time and money (keeping in mind how quickly you want to reach your goal) and create an actionable plan with specific time frames.

Finally, invest your time in a monthly check-in (put it on your calendar - so you actually do it).  Look at how you are doing against the plan, and more importantly- if you are executing on the plan- are the outcomes what you expected. If not, think about modifying the plan.

So go ahead and invest in yourself. As the hair coloring company says, "You are worth it," and so is your future.

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Sheila Murphy

Founder of Focus Forward Consulting

For over 20 years, as a former senior legal officer for a Fortune 50 company, I successfully developed, coached and transformed talent in corporations and law firms, as well as...