2023, the new year, time to take control of your learning and development

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Article by Madelaine Allen, Head of Axiom Europe

January, named after the two-faced Roman god Janus, who could see both the past and the future, is a strong representation of transition. A time we all often reflect on the year gone by and make best plans for the year ahead.

As you reflect on your career and development, have you thought any of the following…

  • I hope to get more access to courses from work this year
  • I don’t think I’m feeling seen or heard in my learning needs
  • I’m not sure I am getting the same opportunities as others
  • I don’t feel confident about how to have good conversations with my line manager about my career development
  • I don’t feel confident about how to get the most out of my team or help to manage conflict

One question to sit back and ask yourself is ‘are you leaving your development in someone else’s hands?’

Perhaps it’s conditioning from school or university where learning is mapped out and dished out to us, but there feels to be a growing trend in expectation on our workplace to solve the demands of our personal growth, and yet, it is such an incredibly empowering and positive experience when we take ownership of our learning into our own hands. It has the power to completely revolutionise your whole work experience, your relationships in and out of work, and the career opportunities available to you.

I will always remember (not really thinking what I was saying and who I was saying it to), when I was a fresh graduate in work, mentioning that I couldn’t afford something to my boss at the time. He wisely looked at me and said “Maddy, one thing to quickly learn is that we all always live to our means, it’s a human flaw – even if you earned double, you would still have something you wanted and can’t afford”. And he was right, as we earn more we spend more, we make our materialistic things bigger from cars and houses to birthdays and other celebratory presents, to match our increased earnings and we get used to our new standard of living, but we can often fall into the trap of failing to plan to invest in ourselves and so when we need it, it can feel out of reach or tight in that moment we need it most.

How many of us when financial planning sees ourselves as an investment and plan to invest each year in our physical health, our mental health, and our continued learning and development? Those words of wisdom made me think about how I looked at the money I earned and when I next got a pay rise how would I spend a part of that extra income to reinvest into myself;

  • Courses that would give me more confidence
  • Courses that intrigue, grow and challenge my knowledge of topics I love
  • Courses that make me better at my job and improve the skills I needed (no one can be good at everything!)
  • Leadership, mindset and wellbeing courses that help me in how I show up
  • (And others such as health treatments and classes I need to keep my body and mind fit)

By no means am I saying it’s all down to us, a great company will provide you with the right training required for your role, and the right development opportunities to help you grow, but we should not leave it solely in their hands, by doing this not only do we give up control of our learning, but we narrow our learning opportunities too. Instead, choose to see what any work environment offers as a bonus and take ownership of your own development each year.

Personally, I set myself a soft goal of just one course every year. Perhaps you could join me and start this year by finding one course you want to do, something you know you will enjoy or find useful (sometimes both!). Do the research yourself as this will make you feel more empowered and more interested in the selection. Don’t just write it down on paper, get searching and find out the cost and dates and if possible, plan it into your spending and holiday time for the year and see if in return 2023 is that little bit more rewarding personally and professionally.

And thank you, to my wise boss, you became my counsel, my guru and friend, and changed my work experience forever.

About the author

Madelaine AllenMaddy is Head of Axiom Europe. Working closely with Terri Harchar in the US, her team works with some of the most innovative new healthcare products, bringing science and creativity together to educate and engage internal and external audiences.

With considerable experience of the pharmaceutical industry, Maddy has been with The Creative Engagement Group for over 10 years, previously leading account teams for several global healthcare companies. She is a trained facilitator, coach and NLP practitioner, passionate and constantly curious in the mix of powerful scientific content and sociology of human behaviour for maximum engagement.

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