Three ways to overcome barriers and invest in yourself

Nov 25, 2021

Randy Gaudreau's headshot

7 mins | 959 words
By: Randy Gaudreau

Whether it was learning to make sourdough for the first time, or finally learning how to write JavaScript, many Canadians holed up during the COVID-19 pandemic felt driven to learn a few new skills.

And it wasn’t just us here in Canada. All around the world, the pandemic made us realize we had an opportunity on our hands to learn new things.

American online course provider Udemy noted in a special report that they saw a 425% increase in enrollment across their online platform – in courses ranging from Technical Drawing to Ukulele.

On the professional development level, Canadians have been very motivated to move their career and training forward during the pandemic by upskilling and reskilling to secure or advance their position.

A poll of Canadians conducted by Athabasca University earlier this year points out that 74% are prioritizing self-improvement, expressing that it’s time they invested in themselves and were looking at taking steps to level up. The same survey notes that 59% of Canadians polled expressed an interest in enhancing their skills with credible learning to stay at the leading edge of their profession.

What does this shift mean for organizations? It could mean they have a great opportunity to provide a culture of continuous learning for their employees who are eyeing opportunities to grow. LinkedIn Learning data between January and April of 2020 showed a 130% increase in learning by enterprise learners, which adds up to an increase of 4.8 million hours of extra learning.

I think first and foremost, everyone should be asking themselves, ‘What does growth mean to me?’ That might mean different things for different people, but establishing what growth means to you and then finding out ways to pursue things that you’re passionate about is a great first step.

According to Heidi Hauver, Vice President of Talent Strategy and HR for Invest Ottawa, if you’re looking to grow new skills that will lead to new opportunities, you’ll want to show that you can take matters into your own hands.

“You need to show that you’re a lifelong learner,” she said. “And if you’re not, right away, you’re creating a roadblock for yourself in your ability to be successful. Employers are looking for individuals that show they can adapt, they’re lifelong learners, and they have a growth mindset.”

The good news is, whether you’re looking to keep your credentials up to date or to learn new skills that can set you on a new path, there’s a multitude of programs available. But for many of us, finding the time, money, and drive to get going can be a challenge.

To help you get over the barriers keeping you from learning new skills in the new year, we’ve provided three ways to overcome barriers and invest in yourself,  to help you continue along your path in lifelong learning.

“I don’t know where to start.

Hauver advises that a good way to kick off your professional development is to start by being curious and asking a few simple questions to help focus your direction.

“I think first and foremost, everyone should be asking themselves, ‘What does growth mean to me?’” she said. “That might mean different things for different people, but establishing what growth means to you and then finding out ways to pursue things that you’re passionate about is a great first step.”

With an idea in mind, asking further questions can help you lay out a plan of attack. Try asking

An image of a cup of coffee on a saucer on a brown table, surrounded by four question marks on pink, brown and white clouds.

yourself  these questions:

  • What courses should I be taking?
  • What’s happening in my profession?
  • What’s on the leading edge of my profession?
  • What matters to me?
  • What am I interested in?
  • Where do I want my career to go?

Once you have those questions answered, you can start to look for solutions that will help you find the right training that can take you to the next level.

“I don’t have the funds for learning.”

Budget constraints are a common silencer of our best intentions to up our professional game. But don’t worry. Even with little to no budget, professional development is possible.

One area ripe with growth because of the shift to digital is online learning.  The availability of quality programs, classes, webinars, workshops, boot camps and everything in between has exploded. A simple web search for training in almost any area from oil painting to data analytics can result in a myriad of courses – many of which, (like the Xtreme Talent Accelerator Program) are being offered for free.

“I don’t have the time.”

This is a tough one and should really rank above all other barriers in the category, as being starved for time is almost a seemingly universal trait, and nobody can make more time for you. Only you can make the decision to take the next step and take the time to invest in yourself.

Your employer might encourage you to gain skills to help you be more productive in your job. But what about the job you want to have in the future? Being proactive and making time to work towards learning the skills you need to do your job better, or reach your ultimate goal, is a decision that can pay off in the long run.

Thinking about learning a few new skills yourself? On the brink of 2022, take the opportunity to pay it forward to yourself in the New Year, by registering to join one of the upcoming free workshops available through the Xtreme Talent Accelerator Program.

These free, industry-led workshops are designed to help you build the skills you need to start or advance a rewarding career that you want and deserve.  All you need to do is to take action now.

To learn more about all the free workshops available through XTAP and to apply – visit the website at

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