Has anyone every asked you to lend them some money, allow them to crash at yours for a few nights, asked you to play taxi for them etc? Have you ever said no to them? The chances are you haven't or don't as often as you would like to. The thing is we often invest more money, time and energy far more readily in others than we do in ourselves. But, why is this? What is stopping us from pushing ourselves forward, from participating in opportunities which will allow us to grow and develop? Why do we allow ourselves to remain stuck in a rut rather than doing something about it?
I think you can put investment into three categories; money, time and energy. Let's take money first. Financial investments can come in different amounts but just as when purchasing something from an online store, if it is a low amount, you won't think too much about it and will probably pay it if it is under £50 so let's think about something that does require more thought. Think about whether you would spend £2-3000 on a training or educational course? Something which would allow you to develop your existing skills or learning something completely new. Would you do it? Would you say it depends on what the course was for? Maybe if it was to help you change your career and help you get a better job, you'd consider it. Though maybe some of you would say that you could never afford to spend that kind of money on a course. I think if you don't see the value in further training or education then there is little point in investing that kind of money into it. However, if you see expanding your knowledge, understanding and skill set then you see the investment as an opportunity rather than a cost. Furthermore, if we waited until we felt we could really afford things then we'd probably never do many things, having children or pets or buying a house springs to mind.
I think when we're saying we can't afford something this is an excuse, an alternative way of saying I'm not going to spend that kind of money on me because I don't deserve it. And yet you do spend that kind of money. Within a year the average Briton spends £2111 in coffee shops, £303 on cups of coffee and £1600 on takeaways/restaurants. But because this is incremental, you don't perceive it in the same way as you do if you were to spend £2-3K in one go.
Then there are big purchase items like buying a new car, getting the house redecorated, going on holiday. These kinds of things either depreciate immediately, don't necessarily need doing at that precise moment or are forgotten about the minute you get back to work. The thing with buying items like the holiday or a new car is that you tell yourself that you deserve these as a way to justify spending money and that others will benefit from them as well. It is a different justification, one which you judge to be acceptable than were you would be spending the money on learning something new or something that will help you take your career or life to the next level. After all, it might not lead anywhere and whilst you might have found it interesting, what have you got to show for it? Would you ever consider spending that amount purely on the basis that you'd have fun whilst doing it? Possibly not, because whilst we are conditioned for it to be acceptable to spend that level of money on a holiday to Spain for example, that seems like an acceptable societal norm whereas spending it on training or further development seems like it is being self-indulgent. Is that what it really is or is it a specific belief you hold or how you would judge others if they did this?
A question which arises when it comes to thinking about investing money is yourself is, if you don't then what will it cost you? Will there be a long-term financial cost to you? For example, if you don't invest in training in say property if that's what interests you, will it cost you more if you buy a property but don't know who to maximise rental incomes? Yes, you probably could do many things on your own but there are also many mistakes that you could make by not knowing something which you could have learnt much earlier. Do we get swept away in a false economy mentality?
The next time you see something you might want to do but the cost might be putting you off, dig deep as to what this is really about? What beliefs are you holding that are preventing you from investing financially in yourself? Do you not think you are worth it? Might it lead to better things if you did?
The next element is the time it might take to learn something new or to develop an existing skill. You've been at work all day, so people question whether they actually have the time to learn something or do something different. I've done many training events that happen over the weekend, so I've been at work all week, go off on a two-day weekend event and return to work on the Monday again. Yes, it is hard work and I didn't really have the time but because personal development is important to me, I made the time. Other things that would normally be done on those days could wait or were just not necessary (house work springs to mind here for me, it’s not that important in the grand scheme of things.)
We often tell ourselves that we don't have time but what we're really saying is this isn't important enough to me or I'm not important enough to spend time doing this. If you broke your time down outside of your work hours, you'd probably find that you spend your time reading magazines, playing Call of Duty, watching Netflix or zoning out and doing absolutely nothing. There is time in the day to do things which are relaxing or let you switch off but there is also time in the day to learn and develop, to move your life forward in the direction you want rather than drifting along doing things out of habit rather than out of love. It's about using your time more consciously and effectively, choosing to listen to an audio book on your daily commute or lunch break. Spending an hour after you have had your tea developing your craft. Watching an educational video instead of watching East Enders. I challenge you to be able to find at least one hour per week to spend on your personal or career growth. I think you could find more but for now stick with freeing up an hour.
The final element is energy. Sometimes you're never going to feel like doing it because you don't have the energy to do so. Your week has been so bad at work that you don't feel like learning or practicing something because you're just too tired. But it is amazing just how we can make ourselves do something for others if they asked. Even when the activity we want to participate in we know will be beneficial to us and which once we get started, we will enjoy, we talk ourselves out of it because we're more concerned by how we are feeling in that exact moment. We're more concerned with immediate gratification rather than thinking about longer term gains. Maybe this is because we have doubts about the outcomes, think it will end in failure or will require more effort than you're prepared to put in right now. Sometimes I wonder if we don't have the energy in as a form to stop ourselves from trying just in case we do fail because we don't expect it to work out in the way we want. Why waste energy for something when there is no guarantee of success or if it’s not what we really want in the first place, but we don't want to admit that to ourselves or to anyone else?
Whether it's time, money or energy we have to be honest with ourselves as to what is holding us back. Is it fear of failure, of the judgements of others, of the unknown, what is it? Is it because you feel you're not worthy, that you don't deserve to spend any of those resources on something that is purely for you? Though your happiness and personal growth can have a positive impact on others as well, you view spending these three elements primarily on yourself unpalatable. Consider why you would invest in others so easily but not in yourself?
If you look at people who are successful in business, sports, arts etc, they all make an effort to invest in themselves with money, time and energy by accessing coaching, mentoring, continuing with their professional development and constantly learning. Their success doesn't come by them staying as they are and stagnating, it comes from continual investment in themselves.
The next time you are face with an opportunity to invest in you, don't think about it, just do it and see what happens. You wouldn't hesitate if it was for someone else so why miss out when it's for you? It doesn't have to be hard to invest in yourself, it is your time, your money and your energy; you don't have to wait for permission to invest in you. If you get out of your own way, you’ll find it is just as easy to invest in yourself as it is in others.
If there is a passion you want to pursue, a hobby you want to turn into business own or learn something just for the fun of it, invest the time, money and energy in yourself. Life is too short to play it safe or not do something you love. You deserve it.