When one thinks of investing, we think about investing in stocks, investing in real estate, investing in quality products and services so you don’t waste money — the list goes on and on. However, there’s another type of investing that can pay huge dividends: investing in yourself.
Investing in yourself provides a great return on investment in a myriad of ways. It can improve your career prospects and help you earn more money. It can build your confidence, which can help you pursue your dreams and opens doors for new opportunities. It can enrich your life by introducing you to people, ideas, hobbies, and experiences you might have never encountered otherwise. And it will help you create a life that’s more satisfying and balanced.
There’s another good reason why you should spend the time and money investing in yourself: because no one else will. You, and you alone, are in control of your life and career. If you don’t work on learning new skills, creating a better life, and expanding your creativity, then it’s not going to happen.
You can invest in yourself in many different areas, including your physical health, emotional health, career, education, goals, creative pursuits, passions or interests, and relationships.
How to Invest in Yourself for a Better Life
1. Exercise Regularly
Hands down, getting enough exercise every day is one of the best investments you can make in yourself. Daily exercise has been linked to more energy, more productivity, reduced stress, improved brain power, better memory, and even increased creativity. It’s the best way to maintain a healthy weight, improve your mood, ward off disease, combat mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression, and improve your focus. Harvard Business Review states that the benefits are so great that regular exercise should be part of everyone’s job description. You’ll be a better worker, a better team player, and a better problem-solver when you make exercise a habit.
You don’t need to join a gym to exercise. You can exercise by going for a walk, doing yoga, or working out at home. Go dancing, swimming, hiking, or take the dog for a long walk. It doesn’t really matter what type of exercise you do as long as it’s something you enjoy and can do most days.
You also might exert more effort if you exercise with a friend or colleague who’s already in shape. According to a study in the Journal of Social Sciences, study participants were assigned to three groups: biking alone, biking with a low-fit companion, or biking with a high-fit companion. Researchers found that the participants who biked with a high-fit companion exercised harder than the other two groups.
One Trick to Exercising When You Don’t Want To
There will always be days when you don’t want to exercise, when the couch and television look particularly appealing. So try this: Tell yourself you’re only going to exercise for seven minutes. That’s all you have to do — just seven minutes of exercise and then you can stop. Seven minutes of exercise is better than nothing, and it keeps your exercise habit alive instead of letting yourself begin to slip.
Once you’ve been exercising for seven minutes, you might find that it’s not so bad. So, if you’re so inspired, set a goal that you’ll put in five more minutes. You can do five more minutes, right? Sure you can; five minutes is nothing.
Keep setting micro-goals for yourself like this. If, after 12 minutes you still feel tired or grumpy, then by all means, throw in the towel and hit the couch. But chances are that after 12 minutes of movement, your endorphins will be flowing and you’ll have more energy — at least enough to make it 20 minutes, and then maybe 30. Before you know it, you’ll feel better, and you’ll have gotten your exercise in for the day.
2. Set Goals
You may love them or hate them, but the truth is setting goals will help you accomplish more. Once you’ve identified a goal and written it down, you’re more likely to change your behavior and take actionable steps to achieve that goal. Goals also help clarify what you want. Instead of having a vague dream or occasional wishful thinking, setting a goal helps uncover what you truly want. More importantly, it’s the first step in figuring out what you need to do to get there. Once you’ve set a goal you can focus your attention and channel your energy to achieve it.
When it comes to setting a goal that is meaningful yet challenging enough to keep you motivated, use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym as a guide. S.M.A.R.T. goals are:
Your goal should also be framed in a positive light rather than a negative light. This is called approach versus avoidance. An article in American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine explains that approach goals help you move toward a desired outcome, while an avoidance goal helps you move away from an undesired outcome. For example, setting a goal that you will eat an apple every afternoon for a snack to lose weight is an approach goal, while setting a goal that you will avoid snacking on junk food to lose weight is an avoidance goal.
3. Strengthen Your Current Skills
No matter what you do, you already have and use a wide range of skills in your career and your life. But are you considered an “expert” in the skills or areas you rely on most? Probably not. Honing the skills you rely on most is one of the best ways to invest in yourself. After all, you already have a foundation of knowledge in at least one particular area. It’s far easier to become an expert in a field you’re already familiar with than one that you know nothing about.
If the field you’re in now is one you plan to stay in, then it’s worth your time and energy to become the best at what you do.
If the field you’re in now isn’t one you want to stay in, then analyze which skills will be useful in the field into which you want to go. Skills such as strong communication, leadership, team building, emotional intelligence, negotiating, business writing, and public speaking are valuable in a wide variety of fields. You can also focus on building other highly valuable soft skills such as conflict management, time management, and persuasion skills. So focus on strengthening the skills you’ll use in your next career or business venture to build your confidence and marketability.
4. Learn a New Skill
Another great way to invest in yourself is to keep learning throughout your life. Learning a new skill not only keeps your mind sharp, but it also adds yet another tool you can use to perform better in your career, qualify for a promotion, or even start your own business. First, think about what new skill would help you succeed in your current day job or a career you’d like to have in the future. For example:
- Learning more effective management techniques can help you create a more cohesive team.
- Getting more organized, or learning how to manage your time better, can help you get more done during the day.
- Learning public speaking skills can make you a more effective presenter when you’re pitching ideas to your boss or to prospective clients.
- Strengthening your personal finance skills can help you save extra money to start a business or side gig.
- Taking the time to learn a new language can help you land a new job or achieve a promotion.
Other skills such as home repair, self-defense, gourmet cooking, playing a musical instrument, or learning to code may or may not affect your career, but they can help you create a better life and lead to greater overall satisfaction. You can also learn a hobby you can turn into a thriving business.
You can learn a new skill on your own by reading books or taking online classes at an academic institution or through platforms such as Udemy or Coursera.
5. Keep a Journal
Keeping a daily journal might sound like a surprising way to invest in yourself. After all, what will scribbling in a journal every day do to help improve your life? But daily writing forces you to be more self-reflective, and this can be an important element of self-care. Writing out your thoughts and feelings gives you the opportunity to release them in a safe, nonjudgmental space. It can help:
- Manage anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Cope with depression
- Prioritize problems and cope with fears
- Better identify negative thoughts and behaviors
Over time, daily journaling can help you develop more self-awareness, feel more gratitude, and identify dreams and goals you want to achieve in life.
6. Break Your Bad Habits
We all have bad habits. Some of us shop too much, while others drink or smoke too much. Some of us don’t get enough exercise, while others eat too much fast food or tend to procrastinate. You might bite your nails, spend too much time watching Netflix, watch too much TV, or obsess over your worries at night. Only you know what your bad habits are. They’re the negative behavior patterns that hurt your physical, emotional, or social well-being. And if you’re like most people, you have a long list of behaviors you’d like to stop doing.
Making an effort to break your bad habits can be incredibly liberating, and when you replace a bad habit with a good one — such as exercising consistently or getting enough sleep — it can transform your life.
Reading books is better for your brain than reading newspapers or magazines because it forces you to use critical thinking skills and make connections from one chapter to the next. This “deep reading” can help promote quicker thinking and help prevent cognitive decline.
So how can you read more books? First, set a goal. For example, start by reading one book per month and devote at least 30 minutes a day to reading, perhaps right before bed. You could also use reading, which is a good habit, to replace a bad habit such as watching too much TV or spending too much time on social media. Instead of watching TV or scrolling on your phone when you have some free time, force yourself to read for at least 30 minutes first.
Keep in mind that reading doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby. There are many ways to save money on books, like using the public library, downloading free ebook classics, and buying used books. You can also listen to audiobooks during your commute or workout session to explore more titles.
8. Find a Creative Outlet
Many people think they’re not creative because they can’t draw a portrait or write a piece of music. However, that’s a narrow way to look at creativity. Humans are, by nature, creative beings. Everyone, including you, is creative in some way. At heart, creativity is about solving problems or giving people a new way to look at an old or established idea. Learning how to be more creative will strengthen your reputation at work and bring more meaning and fun into your life.
You can learn how to access your creativity just like you can learn any other skill. Start by making a list of some creative projects or hobbies you’ve always wanted to do. Take a painting class or learn to draw. Start writing short stories, take an improv class, or learn how to make puppets.
It can help to start with doing some small creative task without stopping to judge or edit what’s on the page, like doodling with your eyes closed or speed writing about whatever comes to your mind. You can also play with your kids; kids are the world’s experts on creative thinking, and we could learn a lot if we looked at the world with their same wonder and curiosity.
Investing in yourself means making small, continual improvements that enable you to do more, be more, grow more, and love more.
These little improvements can lead to immediate opportunities and long-term positive change. They can help you earn more money or start working from home, discover the career you always wanted, follow your dreams, and uncover hobbies that fill you with joy. They’ll improve your health and relationships, make you a more interesting person, and lead to a better life.
Article Credit: https://www.moneycrashers.com/best-ways-invest-in-yourself/