Invest in Yourself

My Upcoming Conference Talk

In September I’ll be giving a new talk, Invest in Yourself, at two conferences.

When I was invited to give a talk at these conferences, I decided to talk about this topic because it’s been on my mind for quite a while - but I needed the space from the event that kicked it off to tell it.

For what it’s worth, I hadn’t read of any recent redundancies at the time, so it didn’t exactly feel “topical”. But now I’m a bit nervous about giving this talk since it seems there have been more redundancies lately and I’m worried about how I’ll come across.

I admire Angela Riggs in being so open about talking about layoffs in her recent blog post because I still remember feeling so hurt and rejected for quite a while and it seemed she penned that post fairly soon after she got laid off.

I still remember certain aspects of that day clearly: The people crying; the tissue boxes in the meeting rooms; the whispers; the updated LInkedIn statuses etc.

While it’s “normal” to have the employee end the relationship (by moving companies), it hits different when it’s the employer who chooses to end things.

That experience taught me a lot of things.

It taught me to get my priorities straight.

It taught me to be prepared for the unexpected.

But most importantly, it taught me that I need to invest in myself.

While I technically knew that even before all of the layoffs, I understood it when I was affected.

With time, I also better understand why you should invest in yourself.

What is an investment?

Let’s take a step back and look at the definition of what an “investment” is.

According to Investopedia:

“An investment is an asset or item acquired with the goal of generating income or appreciation. Appreciation refers to an increase in the value of an asset over time…

An investment always concerns the outlay of some capital today—time, effort, money, or an asset—in hopes of a greater payoff in the future than what was originally put in.”

How does this apply to one’s career? You might ask.

A lot of the things I did earlier in my career have only started to help me in the last few years.

I also have had to put in time and effort (sometimes money) to invest in myself.

While it’s tempting to want to see results straight away; I’ve found it’s helped to be patient. And believe me, patience isn’t my strong suit.

Effort vs Reward

I’ve also always struggled with the fact that sometimes the reward doesn’t always correspond to the effort put in.

Well, when it comes to testing/career-related stuff, I’m ok there, but when it comes to being healthy - don’t get me started!

You’re looking at someone who would eat healthily for a week and it would feel like such hard work (yeah yeah I know woe is me…) then I would step on the scale and be pissed off that 2kg didn’t magically disappear because I felt like I earned it. (yes I can be quite delusional with this sort of thing)

What to Expect

Steph Smith has a great way of describing what happens when it comes to putting in the effort and giving you an idea of what to expect.

“Compounding is always present. The earlier steps in any process will be more strenuous, yet it’s difficult to imagine the potential compounding that comes later on.”

“With the ups, there are always downs. This seems obvious, but we often forget this when we are in periods of down. We quit at these local minimums (the highlighted sections in red above), because we cannot see the next peak right around the corner.”

Investing in Myself

One of the first things that comes to mind when it comes to investing in myself is learning test automation.

The fact I didn’t know test automation in one of my previous roles was why I was laid off. (I had only recently started learning it at the time).

And boy oh boy did I put it on a pedestal.

Almost felt like I wasn’t worthy of learning test automation (which is such a ridiculous thought now come to think of it).

In a previous blog post, I shared some reasons why one might want to learn test automation. To be honest, I initially started to learn test automation out of fear, but then eventually grew to become interested in it.

While I don’t think you should learn something out of fear, I’m happy I actually got started because I felt like this event was the kick up the arse I needed.

Learning test automation isn’t the only way I have intentionally invested in myself.

I worked on my public speaking skills for years at Toastmasters and I read a lot of books.

I also enjoy reading testing blogs and taking free online courses.

Take It One Step At A Time

I’m not going to pretend that I sit down and consciously invest in myself every week; or even every month.

Life happens.

But the overall trend is there.

If you look at each 2-3 month period I do try to do something to invest in myself.

Lately, it’s been my YouTube channel. I’m using it to work on my speaking skills in preparation for the conference talks in September. (These days, Toastmasters isn’t a viable option for me, so I’m choosing to work on my speaking skills after my children have gone to bed.)

I haven’t given a talk, in person, since early 2019, so you bet I’m nervous! And I get that speaking to a camera and speaking to an audience is not the same - but I’ve found the pressure of speaking and giving myself a max of 3 takes (preferably only 1-2) is forcing me to be more succinct.

Will all this effort pay off?

Well, eventually.

I just need to be patient with myself.