Why is it Easy to Invest in Others but not in Yourself?

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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.

Education, Education, Education: 7 Free or Low-Cost Ways to Gain More Knowledge or Learn a New Skill

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When was the last time you chose to learn something new or completed some training which was not provided through your employer? Often our learning stops when we leave school or university, or we have become established within our role. For some people Continual Professional Develop (CPD) never stops, for others the prospect of doing any more learning fills them with dread. But, how do you satisfy that need to grow, to expand your mind or to try out something new?

When I was at school, I hated learning. Back then it was something you had to do. Even when I was studying a chemistry degree, it was not something I enjoyed, I think again it was because I felt I had to do it, rather than it being something, I wanted to do. Since then, I have well and truly caught the learning bug and have pursued a variety of courses from English Literature to dog training, which is what I am doing this weekend with my springer spaniel, Mason. Obedience is not one of our strengths when it comes to his behaviour, he's not totally unruly but there is definite room for improvement, and I need to learn some new skills and methods in order to bring out the best in him. I split my learning and growth between what I am interested personally and what will contribute to my professional development. I get fun and enjoyment out of both, which I believe is important if you want to absorb, understand and apply the new knowledge and skills.

If you were to make changes in your career what direction would you take it? Follow the path you always have, or go for something totally different? As you progressed through the years of formal education, the structure of it and how society's expectations of how we move through life, limited the scope of what you could potentially explore. How many times were you asked, "what do you want to do when you grow up?" Whoever replied with, "how should I know? I don't know what's out there." Probably no one.

Now as adults and with the magic of the Internet, we have the scope to learn just about anything from Forensic Psychology: Witness Investigation to Learn Jazz Piano to How to Make a Living Selling What You Make. Whatever your interests, your ambitions or if you just want to learn something new for fun and go totally left field to what you have done before, there is a book, course or training out there for you.

The good news is that in order to dip your toe in the water of learning something new, you don't have to spend £100s or £1000s to try it out or gain new knowledge. There are plenty of options out there. Below are 7 free or low-cost ways to learn a new skill, develop an existing one or explore a new hobby or interest. Whilst there are many learning platforms, course providers and resources available online, this list is based upon options I have used in the past in order to give you a good starting point.

  1. Ted Talks: Free to watch and has a vast array of conversations or brief intros into different topics. Great not only for the knowledge you learn but to see people talking so passionately is both motivating and inspiring. -www.ted.com
  2. Facebook groups: Another free avenue to pursue. Whilst many people might think of Facebook as sharing updates and photos with family and friends, there are also many groups on there where you can chat to likeminded people, learn about new perspectives and gain fresh ideas. You can use it to demonstrate your new-found skill and ask for feedback to help you develop further.
  3. Audible: I am an avid reader and do love my books but sometimes, there just aren't enough hours in the day and reading can be time consuming which is why I love Audible when it comes to non-fiction books and trying to get new knowledge in as short a time as possible. Clearly as a coach I am into personal development and I find listening to books as I am commuting into the office or out walking the dogs is an effortless way to learn more. For £7.99 per month, I find I certainly get my money's worth, especially since as a subscriber, I also get access to many free offerings which not only expand my world but are highly entertaining. - www.audible.co.uk
  4. Strong>Lynda.com: This is LinkedIn's learning platform. There are over 13, 000 online video courses taught by industry experts in the fields of business, technology and design. If you're looking to pursue your career goals and want to develop your existing skills or learn something new, then this might be the platform for you. The monthly cost starts from £14.99. - www.lynda.com
  5. Udemy: An online learning platform which has over 100,000 courses with prices ranging from £10 to £300, though often you can use a voucher to get 50% off the price. There's lots of variety, meaning whether you're wanting to learn something new in relation to your job or you have a passion you want to pursue, you'll be able to find something at an entry level, though quality of content does vary. - www.udemy.co.uk
  6. Future Learn: Owned by Open University but with contributors from both UK & International Universities and non-university partners. Many courses are free but if you do want to continue to access the course once it has finished and have a certification of completion then you do have to pay for an upgrade. There is also a series of premium courses specifically for professionals who want to advance their career and have greater interaction with likeminded people. Prices vary depending on the course. Some courses have assignments and an opportunity to get constructive feedback. Also, you can study at postgraduate degree level if you find something which interests you. - www.futurelearn.com
  7. Creative Live: This is one to look at if you are wanting to explore developing your creative side, be it photography, writing, craft work, music and audio or podcasting to name but a few. Prices range from around $13-300 and there are often flash sales where there are high quality courses at a heavily discounted price.

There is something exhilarating about learning because you want to and not because you have to. It's not about the end result but how you feel learning something new or taking something you enjoy to another level. Don't put your days of learning behind you, try something new and see where it leads...it just might surprise you.