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I’ll do that course next time it comes around. I’m too busy to do it now. I don’t have time.

Sad but common themes for someone passionate about learning and development to hear. Even worse are the people who book onto development events and then don’t turn up because something urgent has come up. Learning a skill and developing yourself are important but often not regarded as urgent on our to do list.

Procrastination?

It is not as simple as just doing the washing up when we were supposed to be revising (was it just me?). Often we want to do these things but the short term is outweighing the long term benefit. This Scientific American article explains the ideas of Piers Steel of the University of Calgary – an industrial psychologist. He presents a formula that predicts how we might behave. The factors are success, value, immediacy, desire to complete the task and personal sensitivity to delay (procrastination bit). These are pretty much aligned to your career success measures! *

So we need to be honest with ourselves and understand just what would be the value to us of learning something new. If I had learnt to touch type as a graduate student I would have by now saved hours, if not months. But I can only see that now. My typing is OK – the pain point isn’t big enough. The value of learning how to write, host and publicise an online course however was much more obvious. But even then I knew I might not find time. So I took myself off to a bootcamp to force myself into doing it. Accountability can help us move past the procrastination barrier. So find an accountability partner – a friend, colleague or family member. Ask them to hold you to account.

So why do it now?

At school our teachers taught us to read and write because they knew we would need these skills. Certainly my teachers didn’t give me a lot of choice! But now we are grown the choice is ours. The only person who is going to prioritise your career is you.

What have you been thinking you should do? Software training, coaching course, personality profiling. Some reason to move these from should to could to will:

  • No one knows the future (not even The Avengers). You might not get the opportunity again (training budgets change)
  • You might change roles and the training opportunity might vanish (or cost you if you go freelance)
  • A commitment to personal growth is a great CV pointer
  • Investment in time now could save lots more in the future (if only I had learnt to touch type as a grad student)
  • Learning opens up unknown possibilities – this is the exciting part!

I finally got my ILM Level 7 coaching certificate through the post recently. I loved the coaching side and the reading lots of coaching methods books. I hated the writing. I put it off, I dithered, I ate chocolate. But eventually it became a weight I was carrying around. I took ages, was hard work but I’m so glad of it now.

Hindsight gives you 20/20 vision. Don’t let it be telling you you should have done this sooner.

*procrastination measurement quiz can be found here (I know, unhelpful!)

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