Like most folks working in corporate America, every year I am asked to identify areas of professional development. For the past four years I have been going to the Editors Forum, a conference that brings together writers and magazine editors from the world of higher education to exchange ideas, explore uncharted territories, and look at the work we do with new eyes. It’s helped to network with peers in the industry, discuss institutional challenges, and learn something new. Every year, I’ve returned to my job invigorated and ready to “rock ‘n’ roll.”
As I deliberate on which conferences to consider for the year ahead, I’m also wondering why we, in general, don’t spend more time investigating personal development opportunities.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to go on a retreat at least once a year for oneself? Just take some time off from the 8-5 routine, its demands, its challenges, and its excitement, to look inwards. Doesn’t it make sense to introduce some pause in one’s life, so one can introspect, review, and regroup? It’s great to have that mandate from management (and the dollars) to invest in one’s professional development — couldn’t we then have a mandate for ourselves, akin to a resolution, if you will, that allows us some time to think about our personal goals, our passion, our beliefs, our relationships, ourselves…? It might not result in us feeling rejuvenated or clear-headed (I suspect, most of us would come back to the “real” world questioning the craziness we surround ourselves with), but I do think we’d come back grounded and in better touch with our “self.”
You’re probably saying that’s what vacations are for — our escape from the commotion of everyday living. But, think about it — do you really spend time questioning, challenging, discovering yourself? Isn’t it more about the family, the kids, and sightseeing. Vacations provide relief, not food for thought. Certainly not fodder for growth.
Resolutions aside, checking in with yourself may be the most important thing you do this year.
If you’ve been on a personal retreat, I’d love to hear from you. Also, if you have any ideas for professional development in the field of higher ed writing/editing, please drop me a note.