Not investing in yourself is like floating down a fast river without a paddle, map or knowledge of what's around the next bend. Things may go fine for a while, but at some point, you're going to realize you made a giant mistake.
To avoid such unforeseen disaster, you need to make a proactive and thoughtful investment in a plan for achieving your career -- and life -- goals.
And if that isn't enough to convince you, here are 10 reasons that investing in your career is a must:
1. It's the Greatest Return on Investment, Anywhere
The return on investing and improving yourself is astronomically higher than any financial investment you could make. From increased lifetime earning power and unimagined opportunities, to protecting yourself from unemployment and the satisfaction that comes from personal growth and success, the returns are enormous.
2. You're the Boss of You
If you're the president and CEO of You Inc., then it's your job to ensure you don't go out of business. It's your job to nurture growth and prosperity. You do this by planning carefully, performing consistently, operating true to your mission and investing in You Inc.
3. You Become More Valuable
Draw up two balance sheets for yourself. On the first, list your financial assets and liabilities. On the second, list your skills, ideas, knowledge, marketability, personal networks, passion and ability to make things happen. Increase your personal net worth by investing in your second list -- that's how you'll increase the assets on your first list.
4. You Can Become Great
You are capable of greatness. Most of us settle for just getting by, using a fraction of our capabilities. This is tragic. Realize your greatness by identifying your talents and investing in your potential.
5. You Can Achieve Your Goals
Your career and life goals are far too important to be just wishes. A mismanaged career can derail your life goals. Investing in yourself dramatically increases the probability of achieving your goals and is a real demonstration of your commitment to achieving them.
6. You Create Your Own Future
Your career is yours to mold. Investing in yourself gives you the clarity, power and tools to create your own future and take the path less traveled. Sometimes, investing means taking a risk, but that's the price of entry for success and happiness.
7. Because the World Is a Complex Place
You cannot know everything you need to know or do everything you need to do alone. You can't be your best without help. Find and invest in those who can teach you, show you the way and help you achieve your goals.
8. Life Is Too Short for Mediocrity
You don't have the luxury of being mediocre -- period. Whether you opt for self-improvement or outsourcing your weak areas to someone who can do them better, determine where you are mediocre and get help.
9. It's a Cliche, But on Your Deathbed...
The reason we hear this often is that it is so true. The passage of time will provide a perspective we don't have now. One day, you'll look back at your problems and successes and see them as bumps in the road. Your focus will be on the big picture: the life you led, opportunities pursued or abandoned, how happy you were, and the legacy you left behind. Investing in yourself will give you the courage and determination to be happy and do your own thing.
10. Who Else Can You Count On?
Let's face it: You're alone on this. No one has as much to gain or lose as you do. No one else is going to make those consistent investments in your development to maximize your career and life.
How to Invest in Your Career
Invest in understanding yourself better and developing your goals, plans, professional skills, knowledge, career management skills, networks, and your personal brand and profile. Do it yourself, or pay experts to do it for you.
Try thinking, planning, self-assessment tools, goal development, reading, consulting experts, getting coached, taking courses, upgrading or acquiring skills, and proactively marketing yourself. Recognize that investing in yourself often requires that you don't play it safe.
[Ian Christie founded BoldCareer.com to help individuals build bold, fulfilling careers and help organizations attract, develop and retain talent. A career coach, consultant, three-time entrepreneur, former senior director at Monster and former retained executive search consultant, Ian is an expert in the fields of careers and recruitment. He believes that career management is a central theme to both personal and organizational effectiveness. BoldCareer.com offers career services to companies and individuals as well as free career resources.]