In a recent article in The Financial Times successful leaders in their field from business to acting to fashion shared the best advice they had ever been given. The entire list offers much to ponder and adopt for our own life journeys, but especially as we head into a year that looks to be a bit financially turbulent, this piece of advice that Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia shared he abides by came from Warren Buffet, arguably one of the most savvy investors of our time, ‘Invest in yourself”, advice Buffet gave during an interview a few decades ago.
But what does investing in ourselves look like? And how do we know we are investing wisely?
It begins with knowing ourselves. If we are investing in relationships, a career, a lifestyle that doesn’t align with what truly aligns with our true selves, we cannot find the journey and path that is meant to be ours. But by being open and actively engaged with the world around us, we discover what tickles our curiosity, brings us to life making it easier to discern what is meant for us or simply something we observe but don’t partake in (or we let go as we acknowledge such a path was chosen due to influence beyond ourselves). “Good for you, but not for me” as Amy Poehler writes in her book Yes Please, and that habit of observing, reflecting and considering before reacting and following along is how we figure out what our direction and path is to be.
Once we are on said path, we know what needs to be nurtured and how we can best nurture ourselves to care for what is a priority to living the life we love. And even if we haven’t reached the point of knowing our path, nurturing ourselves, i.e. investing in ourselves, is how we discover it.
So how exactly do we invest in ourselves? Let’s take a look at a five simple, yet intentional practices that with regular and consistent engagement will bring the quality and the manifestation of what you seek in this new year.
How to invest in yourself in your everydays:
Quit what isn’t helping you feel comfortable
When you wake up in the morning after a day of engaging in a habit you perhaps have done for years, nothing horrible about it, but not particularly helpful or constructive for the life you are trying to live, and you don’t feel comfortable about that particular choice . . . stop doing it. That may sound overly obvious, but one of the simplest ways to know if the habits you adhere to are best for you is to listen to yourself in unedited, yet conscious moments. Of course, this requires you to be aware of whether you are responding due to outside approval or not, but once you are well tuned in to your inner voice, your inner compass, when you are discomfited by decisions you make, whether others applauded it or not, begin to quit that particular choice.
Behaviour economist, Tim Harford wrote a detailed article on just this necessary choice in order to live the life we desire, Quitting is Underrated. From spending money on certain items, eating particular food, spending time doing a particular activity, these choices don’t have to be bad, but they are not constructive for your journey. And the good news is, quitting something is far easier than establishing a new habit. All we have to do is to remove the stimuli or conditions that prompt us to engage in the unwanted habit or regular choice. In time, we will begin to observe the benefits and be far less likely to be tempted to return to our old ways. (read more about changing habits in this post/episode)
“Everything you quit clears space to try something new. Everything you say ‘no’ to is an opportunity to say ‘yes’ to something else.” —Tim Harford
Explore soft skills that would enhance what you can offer professionally and add quality to your overall life
Last year I read a book about making oneself more marketable in a competitive, swiftly changing economy, and one of the most significant takeaways that spoke to me was the choice to invest in yourself by strengthening soft skills that could not be taken away when you change careers or a particular job or advance in age.
Soft skills as opposed to technical skills/hard skills, the latter being skills that are a specific field of knowledge you need to do a particular job well such as needing to know how to fill out a complicated tax form and the tax laws if you are an accountant, how to create a lesson plan if you are a teacher, how to plumb a bathroom if you are a plumber, etc., are skills that can be utilized in more than just one area of expertise, communication skills, interrelational skills, mindfulness, self-discipline, critical thinking, etc..
Learning a foreign language for example in my own life is a soft skill that not only will enhance my career as a writer who frequently writes about France but also travels to the country, but also will deepen my ability to communicate more clearly when I am navigating about the countryside.
What soft skill would enhance the quality of the career or chapter of your life you are in currently and contribute to the overall well-being and satisfaction of your daily life?
Create a weekly schedule that nurtures you
Each of us has our ‘have-to’s – work, chores, paying bills, attending important appointments – but it is equally important to schedule what nurtures us into our weekly routine.
In my own life, my weekend tends to fall on Friday and Saturday as I begin writing for the upcoming week on Sunday. Consequently, each Saturday morning I sit down with my planner to examine and plan out my week. From when I will go grocery shopping for the week’s meals, when I will write each post, record podcast episodes and other video posts, when I will attend yoga classes, take walks, meditate, pay bills, clean the house, meet up with friends, etc.. This is also the time that I make sure the week isn’t too full and that I give myself daily time to just be and let the day unfold as it will.
As important as we may think our tasks that earn us money, pay the bills and take care of others in our lives may be, the quality of our well-being is arguably more important because when we take care of ourselves, we bring a clear mind and open perspective to all that will cross our path as we go about our days. We become a better boss, colleague, partner, parent, and dare I say better member of society because we are not neglecting our own needs. And they are needs, not wants. Self-care, something we’ve talked about multiple times here on the blog and podcast (click here to explore all of the them) involves healthy boundaries, being immersed in Mother Nature regularly in some way, good sleep and all that enables us to sleep well – a schedule that prevents us from reaching the point of burn-out, regular and fulfilling connection with others and spending time with our pets, and so many more practices, and it is the knowledge we have about ourselves and what we individually need that guides what we put into our weekly schedule and what we leave out.
Pay mind to your appearance
Not as an exercise in vanity, but an exercise in self-respect. As I wrote about in last week’s Signature Style post, “It is important that we shift our perspective about style and wardrobe shopping away from being a hobby and instead have an end-goal in mind if we truly want to live with contentment” but that doesn’t mean we disregard how we present ourselves in our everyday lives; it simply is tended to, so that we can let go and engage with confidence and be our true selves wherever our days take us.
So how do we tend to our appearance?
- A quality skincare rather than makeup heavy focus
- Plan and adhere to a healthy, yet satiating eating regimen
- Working out regularly matters, but what you eat matters even more. Listen/Read episode #8 – Love Food, Love Your Body: 10 Simple Tips
- Physically engage your body in something you enjoy doing regularly – walking, cycling, yoga, gardening, swimming, etc.. Listen to episode #190 to discover how to Get Fit & Stay Fit: Keep It Simple
- Buy fewer items of clothing, but higher quality pieces, and each item being able to mix and match well with at least two other items in your wardrobe.
- Choose 2-3 colors that complement your skin tone and buy them consistently; in time you will have a closet that can mix and match with ease.
- Nourish your hair as it needs. Whether you color or treat your hair or not, nourish as needed so that whether your gray is showing or you are well into the weeks following your last haircut, your hair still looks healthy and shines.
- Nail care – keep it simple. Again, nourish and keep trim. Color optional.
- Moisturize your entire body well, and don’t forget to moisturize your hands regularly (anti-aging and with sunscreen most desirably)
- Choose water as your drink of choice. Pick up an attractive water bottle that keeps water cold nearly the entire day, so you are encouraged to have it with you and the water is still refreshing when you get around to drinking it whenever that might be (I love my hydro flask, and they are having a 35% off sale).
Never cease to learn
Whether you continue to pick up new-to-you books, read well-written articles by reputably journalists, visit exhibits at museums, watch documentaries, sign up for a new class at your local community college, forever keep learning. Follow your curiosity, but also look at what would improve the quality of your life to understand. Where are the gaps? Where have you made mistakes or felt confused – i.e. in how you communicate effectively, in what you understand about the world, in what you understand about how the mind works, how the financial markets work, etc..
Take on one challenge at a time and remain determined to keep exploring and learning until you’ve grasped something new that is significant to how you live, think, and/or engage with the world. When we take on too many new pursuits, it becomes hard to stay focused and to bring enough energy to engage well. From my own experience, I have found myself to be the best learner when I am not overwhelmed in my life with tasks and responsibilities or excessive obligations. Simply assessing if you have time to learn something new will reveal whether or not your life is too full to live well. Keeping a constant stream of opportunities to learn is oxygen that enables you to keep your mind open, dancing and playful. Remember when you were a student, whether it was in primary school, high school or beyond, when you are merely the student, there is no pressure to get it right immediately and be perfect as it likely is for the teacher/professor who is tasked with teaching the content well. When you are no longer the ‘boss/teacher/parent/leader’ you can relax and have fun exploring, but you have to give your life space to be this free to fully enjoy what you are choosing to do as your curiosity knows the way to living well. Trust it. Oblige it.
While the word ‘investment’ concretely refers to monetary endeavors, indirectly, what we have talked about here today will lead us to best understand what is worth making investments in with the hard earned money we have in the bank. It is always a good idea to save and be savvy with our money, but sometimes we have to invest in order to gain, and the same is true in our daily lives as we cultivate a life of contentment. Similarly to quitting something we have long done out of doing what has always been done and is easy, there is temporary discomfort (remember the self-sabotage cycle written about late last year?) when we make changes, just as investing in something that in the long-run and for a good long run of our lives will benefit us tremendously. Making the decision to change, put the money down, etc. is a bit uncomfortable initially, but that is how the change we seek begins if we have made the decision with a conscious mind knowledgeable of ourselves.
Wishing you a wonderful 2023 enriched all the more because of your investment in yourself.
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