In the last six months, I've been to personal development conferences in Tucson, Florida, Melbourne, Cairns and I have two trips to New York planned before the end of the year.
I got my first life coach when I was 19 and I've probably spent more than $30,000 this year on mentors, conferences, books and courses.
I think it's weird that there's a perception that only losers and weird people pay for coaching or go to "rah-rah" events but I've found just the opposite. It's usually only the most motivated are the ones who are willing to invest in themselves for a bigger life.
However, I want to shatter some of the myths around paying for personal development and give my two cents about when you SHOULD and shouldn't invest.
And hey - I've opened up comments for this post if you're brave enough to share how much YOU spend.
Myth 1: You should implement everything in one program before you start another
True - ish. It's not healthy to be a personal development junkie who needs their fix or is desperately trying to find the magic bullet (but won't actually DO anything to change their behaviour).
However, it's okay to be a little bit of a P.D slut, as long as you're being strategic about it. Pick and choose the bits that you really need and ignore the rest, especially if it doesn't quite relate to your industry or business. Not even the "gurus" are right about everything.
Sometimes you only need one or two modules to feel like you've had your money's worth. Don't feel like you have to exhaust yourself getting every bit of juice out of a conference or program. I used to be the nerd in the front row of every session, nodding at the speaker and furiously taking notes. Now, I go to so many conferences I have to manage my energy and choose one or two objectives per event. At Problogger in Melbourne, I knew I wanted to network a bit, meet my clients face to face and most importantly connect with main speaker Chris Guillebeau (to start the process of brainwashing him into picking me to speak at his event next year). I went to a few key sessions but I was relaxed about it, didn't get exhausted and still got tonnes of value.
If you're doing course after course and you're still not making ANY money, go to your shelf of products and books. Pick one and just do one module. Take notes on what you want to implement and do that before you watch the next one.
Myth 2 - you should only work with ONE coach at a time
There are coaches for everything - to get your book done, to keep you accountable or to help you learn a specific topic. Investing in someone who knows the shortcuts is a really valuable investment in your time and money.
Don't be afraid to fire coaches if they aren't working out. Many will offer a trial period or free introductory session anyway.
So - it's okay to work with several coaches as long as they are all part of your success team, not pulling you in several directions at once. Be clear what each one will add to your business or life.
Also useful - create a few formal and informal masterminds or accountability buddies.
Myth 3 - Don't spend it until you've made it.
There is a learning curve in most professions and it probably took me 6 months to replace my last job income. But if I had tried to do it myself without investing in courses and mentors, it would have taken me a LOT longer.
I believe that as an entrepreneur you do have to invest in regular ongoing learning and professional development (like most careers). Sometimes that means investing BEFORE you've seen the results.
Of course, it's easy to spend money on courses now that I earn a healthy six-figure income but I still had to invest in myself to learn HOW to do it.
In fact, I probably spend tens of thousands in learning coaching and marketing before I made regular consistent income out of it, but equally most of us have spent thousands of dollars on a University degree that is (largely) useless. Imagine if your parents said to you, "Get a job in the corporate world, then we'll consider sending you to college".
Again, my caveat applies. Stick to learning a consistent topic so you're not jumping around AND be careful who you are learning from. And as one of my coaches Leonie Dawson says "Implement, implement, IMPLEMENT".
Myth 4: There's so much free stuff out there anyway, why pay?
Well there IS a lot of free content out there. Doesn't mean it's good or useful.
I always say that if there's a zombie apocalypse, we could rebuild society using free videos on YouTube (if we still have the internet) but when it comes to investing in yourself and going to the next level, you have to graduate out of free and be more discerning about your time and attention.
However, you can't learn the power of investing in yourself through free content.
Here's an incredibly important point - you can't ask your clients to invest in YOU if you haven't experienced paying yourself. If you're always trying to short cut and fudge things for free - guess what? You'll attract clients who are exactly the same as you.
Oh and "borrowing" a friend's log in to participate in a course? Bad karma.
You know, a lot of people give me free access to their books and courses. Do I do anything with them? No, I'm (literally) not invested in the program. If I haven't paid for it myself, I have NO skin in the game (another good reason not to discount your own programs or give them away free).
And by the way, never go to those "free" pitch-fest events. Yes it's free entry but you might end up paying thousands for a dodgy internet or real estate course because you got caught up in the hype. (that's totally me, I'm a sucker for NLP techniques).
I used to go to any free event I could find. Eventually, you have to pony up and actually pay for events. Why?
The quality of people is better. When you constantly go to free events, you're surrounded by people who aren't willing to invest in themselves and are often lost looking for the magic bullet.
Here are my tips to ensure you invest wisely...
Find your tribe
I know my tribe. Smart and ambitious women with a fun and laid-back personality. Doesn't mind the occasional F- or C-bomb. Positive, supportive and knows exactly where she wants to go. Did I mention, ambitious and funny as hell?
Next time you're at an event, look and around and ask yourself - would I be friends with these people IRL? Do they inspire me? Do I want to be like the leaders of this movement? If yes, then you're in the right room.
Let's be honest, some personal development movements attract weirdos (especially the free ones remember?), so if you wouldn't introduce them to your closest friends, you're in the wrong room.
It's a sad fact but there are many people in the personal development world who look like successful millionaires, but they have a myriad of hidden problems like bankruptcy, affairs and even drugs (yes, it shocked me too). Surround yourself with people of true integrity.
Nowadays, it doesn't matter how weird and wacky you are - you can find your tribe. There are conferences for EVERYTHING (for example, the annual Gerald Butler Fan Convention) and if you can't find one, create one - even if it's just you and an equally weird mate for the first year.
Be true to yourself
Are you actually attending conferences because YOU want to be a speaker yourself? Do you obsessively read personal development books but you wish YOU could write a book?
It's unlikely that someone will come up to you and say "wow, you've been to EVERY event, let's get YOU as a speaker next time". You have to create it yourself.
Just be honest with yourself! There's no prize in being the best kept secret in your industry. Rather than spending money on another conference as a delegate, spend a bit more and be an exhibitor or sponsor of the event.
Save the money you were going to spend on (another) digital course and instead pay someone to do your website... or your head-shots... or to write press releases for you.
Instead of paying to walk on hot coals, make an offer to speak at a local event (the adrenaline is just the same and you'll be making stuff happen).
By the way, when you're actually money from personal development instead of just paying it out - it becomes tax deductible! Sweet, right?
Inspiration is always worth paying for but making money inspiring people is even sweeter!
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So - what do you want to learn this year? Grab your notebook and journal - is it working on your money beliefs? Is it learning a new skill? Is it accountability to finish your book?
Share in the comments - what are you looking for? And if you're brave, how much do YOU spend on personal development. Is it worth it?
Set an intention to find the perfect course, coach, event or mentor and I bet they show up very quickly.
P.S Don't forget my Lucky Bitch Money Bootcamp starts soon. Make sure you sign up for my free manifesting guide below to get on my newsletter list so you'll be the first to be notified.