How To Invest In Yourself: 3 Steps to a Better You

How To Invest In Yourself: 3 Steps to a Better You

How much do you invest in yourself? In your wealth, in your fulfillment, your business, your sanity, your health or your relationships?

In this article, I want to ask you to try and do just 3 things, but to try and do them or at least think about them with everything you do for the next week:

  1. Invest: Invest more in yourself (and your loved ones)
  2. Relax: Give yourself a break
  3. Experiment: Live, learn and enjoy the experience

To help you, I’m going to give you 5 things I did in the last week which might seem stupidly small but actually really matter.

Let’s look at each of these three ideas in just a little more detail and then we’ll get on to a few minor examples from my last week (believe me, I have hundreds, but I thought 5 would do ;-)).

Idea 1: Invest More In Yourself (Invest)

Investing in yourself is important and you should be doing so on many different levels. I’m obviously not just talking about money here. Investing in yourself is about looking after your health, looking after your relationships, looking after your finances, security and future, looking after your loved ones and looking after your mind as well as your body (i.e. your education which will give you the resources to go out and do the first things in this little list even better and easier).

“You are your greatest asset. Put your time, effort and money into training, grooming, and encouraging your greatest asset.” – Tom Hopkins

If you’re not investing in yourself then you need to take a long hard look at what you’re doing and why.

P.S. Is helping others investing in yourself? Yes, absolutely it is. If nothing else, then through the fundamental laws of nature and of reciprocity by helping others you are investing in yourself. It’s a whole different subject but for now, take my word for it.

Idea 2: Give Yourself A Break (Relax)

Most of us worry far too much in one way or another.

Most of the time there’s really no need to. We spend our time thinking about what might be and living in the past or the future rather than being mindful of the present, taking action and doing something with the things that we can influence and change right now.

“The present is the only time that any of us have to be alive, to know anything, to perceive, to learn, to act, to change, to heal.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Remember (as covered in detail in this article: The Only Two Trends That Matter) there are only two directions you can be moving, so accept temporary set backs as part of the journey, learn from them, and think of the overall direction… and stop worrying about things you can’t change (Cicero’s 2nd mistake).

Idea 3: Live, Learn and Enjoy the Experience (Experiment)

Every part of life is an experience and if we can see it that way – detaching ourselves from the stress of what might happen and instead focusing on the challenge of how we learn from every experience and what we’re going to do about it – then we create tremendous freedom for ourselves.

“Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under different conditions.” – Mark Twain

Freedom to enjoy life when it’s going our way and even when it’s not. Freedom to love others when they behave in ways we expect them to but also when they behave in ways we don’t expect. Freedom to create the lives we want when times are easy and to continue to create the lives we want when times are tough.

When we can take a step back and be a little more objective about things then we can go one stage further, living and learning in parallel. When we see life as an experience then we can enrich that experience with our own experiments to learn even more from life.

We can’t always control what life throws at us, but we can control our reaction to it.

So your challenge for the next week is to think of these three ideas for the next week and then let me know how you got on. It’s not meant to be arduous at all, in fact, check our my (deliberately) small examples below and hopefully you’ll see just what I mean.

For each one I’ll tell you what the stupidly small thing is and then how it actually relates to the 3 points above (using the numbers 1, 2 and 3).

Stupidly Small Example #1: My New Water Drinking System

You know I love my little rules and systems.

I described in this article: Efficiency Hack #6: Use a Bottle To Drink More Water an efficiency hack which makes sure I drink enough water every day. I have since combined that with making sure I get vitamin C every day by simply putting the vitamin C tablets in the water every morning. I’ve also found that by adding a little fruit cordial I achieve a taste I really like, the drink then tastes awesome and I get through it much quicker, often drinking two bottles instead of one.

  1. For me this is actually quite a big deal in terms of being an investment in my health. I strongly believe that drinking enough water is one of the best things you can do for your health for lots of reasons.
  2. Overall, I am on the right path, particularly when it comes to drinking enough water, but also when it comes to my overall health, which is important to me.
  3. I recognized I was slacking, gave myself a kick up the a$$ and tried this new idea – it works well & I enjoy it (if it hadn’t have worked I’d find another way).

Stupidly Small Example #2: I Learned Plumbing

We rent out our old house in London and after some troubles over the last year, found some new tenants a month ago. I went down to see how our new tenants were settling in after their first month and they told me of some noises in the central heating system. It turns out that our old house has a really old central heating system with no drain-off point (making it more difficult to drain the system or change anything).

Of course I could easily afford a plumber to investigate and fix the problem but I wanted to do it myself. Why? To learn from the experience, to better understand the system, to take my time and make sure (once I’d learned what I was doing) that a good job was done, to save money and believe it or not to enjoy the experience. Calling a plumber was the fall-back option.

In the end I managed to fix the problem and learned an awful lot along the way.

  1. This was clearly an investment in myself because I learned something. It also saved me money so is an investment in my wealth. We have a small budget for maintenance and re-investment in that house so saving money on that job means I have more money to spend on other things if needed.
  2. Throughout the job (and some other things I fixed) I got stuck a few times. I didn’t get stressed about it because I knew I’d get there in the end, I also left enough time in the day to call in an expert if I got REALLY stuck.
  3. The whole thing was a new experience for me and a very enjoyable one. From learning what parts I needed, how the system works and what the possible solutions were, to the rewarding feeling of a job well done when I’d finished. I’ll also learn more soon as I left the system with a cleaning product for a few weeks and have to go back to flush the system again soon.

Stupidly Simple Example #3: I Slept In A Shed

So as said above I needed to start in the morning so that the water was switched off only whilst the tenants were at work and not when they most needed it in the evening. Also to give me time to ring a plumber should I get REALLY stuck (I didn’t). This means I needed to stay overnight to work on the plumbing (I’d been fixing other jobs on Monday after getting down there on Monday afternoon and worked on the plumbing on Tuesday).

I’d always made it clear to the tenants that they were renting the house and the garden but that the shed/garage (which has separate access) is for my use – but they were still quite shocked when I told them I was going to sleep in there (because it’s cold, damp, full of stuff and well, a shed). They’re really nice tenants and offered that I should stay in the house instead. They insisted. But I insisted more. Why?

You might think I’m crazy too. It’s not like I couldn’t afford a hotel room.

I wanted to stay in the shed.

It’s an experiment. As I explained to the tenants, my long term plan would be to turn that shed into a small studio so that I do have somewhere to stay in London if ever I need it. It was actually relatively comfortable (I have a kind of sofa/bed in there with a mattress and a really comfortable sleeping bag so it was actually much more comfortable than camping which we do quite often).

  1. Why is this an investment in myself? Because it is an investment in my future plans. This experiment told me that the access works, that it’s comfortable enough (yes, I would have just gone to a hotel if it turned out to be too cold) and actually allowed me to start planning and tidying up inside the shed/working out how this could be converted whilst I was there.
  2. This is absolutely about knowing that overall things are moving in the right direction. This particular idea is going to take lots of small changes because it’s just easier that way. I have no need for anything too sophisticated at the moment and every time I need to visit London, I’ll make small improvements.
  3. It’s an experiment which I learned a lot from. I now have measurements, ideas and information upon which I can do further research about things like connecting services and getting planning permission.

Stupidly Simple Example #4: I Went To The Middle Of Nowhere For A Bag Of Plaster

I saw a single bag of multi-finish plaster on freecycle. I have no need for it but have a friend who is a great plasterer and who is plastering his bathroom at the moment. The only time I could go and pick up the plaster was Monday night, after my woodworking course and before driving down to London first thing next morning in my awesome little car, so 9pm Monday. It was dark and this place was in the middle of nowhere up a really dodgy unlit lane which climbed and climbed.

Was it worth all of that just for a bag of plaster that isn’t even for me?

You betcha. Why? Because it is for a friend who is the one of the nicest guys on the planet and is always happy to help me, it is a new place I’d never been and I love learning more about new places, particularly in my area, and it is recycling something that would otherwise have been wasted.

  1. It’s an investment in myself because it’s an investment in a relationship I value.
  2. There were no real setbacks to worry about in this particular example. The long term trend is a favorable one because it’s something that didn’t really cost anything except a small detour.
  3. I enjoyed the experience, met someone new and saw a new place, plus my little car enjoyed being challenged on those small dark steep windy roads.

Stupidly Small Example #5: I Took Twice As Long Walking The Dog

So after having gone to London and taking a little longer than expected, I was behind on everything. Emails, the website, how things are going with some other projects and stuff in general. Despite all of that, and knowing I had lots to do, I took Jess (our dog) on a mammoth walk on Thursday morning.

Usually when I’m busy, I keep the walks to 30-40 minutes, if not it would be an hour, but this walk was at least 2 hours. In that time, I listened to 4 hours worth of podcasts (Efficiency Hack #2: Consume Information Quicker) and got some great exercise (there’s no such thing as ‘flat’ countryside where we live).

Note: I often don’t listen to anything when walking the dog. Today, for example, I just enjoyed the walk and my own thoughts (and got about a million ideas for new articles, what I want to discuss with a particular client, what to put in a course we’re putting together and other things I’m excited about), but sometimes I’ll listen to podcasts, like in this example.

  1. It’s an investment in my health and my education (the podcasts)
  2. I knew I could afford to take the time out, because however much I had to catch-up on, giving myself a good break meant I would come back to the work refreshed and ready to get on with things far more efficiently – which I did.
  3. This was one of the most enjoyable walks I’ve had for a while, particularly enjoyable because having been away for a few days, I’d had less outdoor exercise.

Final Thought

What examples do you have which may seem small but are actually important investments in yourself?

What set-backs have you had which in the grand scheme of things don’t really matter because the overall direction is the right one?

How much are you enjoying the processes of the activities you’re involved in – how much are you experiencing life on a day to day basis? Could you introduce more fun or experiments to learn more or enjoy life a little more?

Please do give these three ideas a try with everything you do for the next week, even the small things – especially the small things – and let me know how you get on.


Comments

How To Invest In Yourself: 3 Steps to a Better You — 4 Comments

  1. While you can never invest too much in yourself, or experiment (live, learn) too much, I do believe relaxing too much can be a bad thing, so be careful with that! 🙂

    The importance of investing in yourself is, indeed, one important lesson to learn. Things like buying the right food for you (even though it’s more expensive), wearing nice clothes, or even investing in books and experiences that teach you important life lessons are self-investments that can go a really long way without us even realizing.

    Thanks for the inspiring tips!

    • Hey Andrew,

      I agree if you’re relaxing too much – my issue is when people do too much (or feel they have to). You should read this article: 10 Ways To Enjoy Life More For Less, where one of the comments pulled me up for telling people to do too much with every moment 😉

      The point is about balance and living life to the full which can be either active or passive, so long as you don’t go too far one way or another.

      Thanks for a great comment Andrew & have a wonderful weekend,

      Alan

  2. I love this post Alan, I really need to learn to relax more myself. I think I do experiment more as I get older, not so afraid of making a mistake. That’s how we learn, right? For investing in myself this reminds me I really need to sign up for another class. I felt I was too busy but it’s a must. I do need to find more fun, thanks for these great reminders.

    • Hi Lisa,

      many thanks for the comment & I’m glad you liked the post.

      I think we all need to learn to relax more sometimes – and life around us in general these days doesn’t help as the world moves so fast (or am I getting old?)

      Experiments are awesome – even little ones. There’s so much to live and learn, don’t get me started…

      I hope you do take action on whatever it is you want to do whether signing up for that class or finding more fun – please come back and let me know that you did!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *