Personal Development in 30 Minutes or Less
Thursday, December 7, 2017
by: Liz Elkins, GRCP, Compliance Policy and Corporate Communications Associate, Firm Solutions

Section: WILLed Q4 2017 (Please click on article title to read full article)

Time is a precious commodity, whether you’re taking the first steps of your career journey or you’re a seasoned traveler well on your way. Professional, personal, and social responsibilities all require your attention, and it’s not uncommon to have to make a difficult decision between two or more items multiple times a day. With such busy schedules, it can be easy for some things, like personal development, to fall by the wayside.

We’ve all heard the reasons. We’ve probably even used them ourselves. Personal development takes too much time when you already have so many other things to do. It’s not that important. It’s not going to help me do my job any better than I already do it today.

As we strive to further our careers, however, personal development is a tool that we should keep sharpened and by our side. It can help us to cut through the weeds that try to distract us from our true goals, and it can make us shine in our respective field. Additionally, self-improvement can help to enrich every aspect of our lives, from job performance to interpersonal communication, to personal responsibility and beyond.

But how do we fit such continuous growth into an already overflowing schedule? Making time isn’t always an option; therefore, it’s important to find and utilize those little pockets of time that we may not even realize we have.  Audiobooks and podcasts are a great way to make use of the time you spend doing menial activities. While your hands are busy with the steering wheel or a vacuum cleaner, you can listen and learn about a myriad of topics. Many of us travel for work as well; awaiting plane departures and time spent in the air can be supplemented with audio learning tools aimed at improving self-growth and awareness. If you’re not a fan of the audiobook format, you also have the option of obtaining a membership to sites such as Soundview ( to access in-depth summaries of top business books.

RSS, a type of web feed that allows users to access updates to online content in a standardized format, is another quick tool you can use. For example, the Harvard Business Review (HBR) provides their own RSS feed to update users on updates to their content. Additionally, many sites (including HBR) offer email subscriptions that provide you with short, digestible tidbits aimed at educating you on a small piece of a larger topic.
Another resource that is often overlooked is your colleagues. Study the people that you spend your day with and find the things that make them good at what they do. Ask them for insights and work to emulate the positive behaviors that you see.

Lastly, many of us learn by doing. Opportunities often arise for us to take part in something that might not be 100% in our wheelhouse. Perhaps you could volunteer to write an article for an industry newsletter to expand your writing skills and knowledge on a certain topic. Additionally, attending an industry event could provide you with an opportunity to challenge yourself to network and collaborate with new people, helping you to grow your interpersonal skills.

Time isn’t always something you can make, especially when large portions of your day belong to the demands of a job and/or family. Instead, keep an eye out for the underutilized time that already exists. Adjusting those small chunks of time to fit in self-improvement can be the big gamechanger in your personal and professional roles. 
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