A friend and I were talking yesterday -- one of those conversations that you can't plan, can't recreate, it all just comes naturally from a place of semi-exhaustion and stress and forced introspection and a good dose of afternoon ice cream -- about where we "are" in our lives. Physically, emotionally, career-ily, all of the things. Sitting on my increasingly-appearing-used couch in my (may I say) adorable apartment that eats half of my income, drinking yerba mate tea and sparkling water with chips and ice cream, there were many dichotomies from which we came in our perspectives. Are we young, growing, learning ladies? Still getting our footing in an increasingly fast-paced world? Or are we mature, capable, intelligent women who can and should be able to do anything to which we put our minds? Are we young or old, fresh faced or experienced?
Spoiler alert: it's both. We're always growing, always learning. I've read several quotes lately that are all along the same lines of, if you're not learning something everyday, you're doing something wrong. You should surround yourself with people who can aid you in this process, and keep striving for your best self. Even if this includes editing your lifestyle, and learning that "growing up" sometimes, indeed, means acting like a grown up!
Though we rehashed several topics (it had been a few weeks since we'd gotten together!), one of the main takeaways from our conversation was the idea of investing in yourself: putting energy into your own well being, growing your spirit and your value, and doing things that are positive for your mental and physical health even if it takes away from other areas of your life for a little while.
For example, my friend recently began meeting with an executive coach. She thought this would be a great way to get personalized feedback on her next steps to help further her career goals. This is not free - not by a long shot - but it is something that adds great value to her as an entrepreneur, and something that has demonstrated immediate payoff in her interactions with a business partner. It's worth the literal financial investment to do something that creates more value in herself for her lifelong career. And, she's investing in herself emotionally as a young woman in the San Francisco business world by giving herself a mentor to go to when she has questions about how to navigate this male-dominated arena. It's a real thing, guys!
Also, for example, I'm justifying going to a really nice salon for hair removal rather than buying a Groupon to a smaller place. It doesn't happen that often, and it's an adult errand (like getting haircuts or taking your shoes to the cobbler), and if it's done wrong it really, really hurts. So I'm coughing up the dough ($$$) to go to a place with great reviews and a woman about whom people raaaaved on Yelp. Does it mean I'll have to stop splurging on so many coffees this month? Yes. But I'm prioritizing this other item on my To Do list rather than giving in to my exhaustion-induced purchasing at the Starbucks on my way to work. I'm investing in myself.
10 Ways to Invest in Yourself
Now, you all know I didn't write this post just to brag about how mature we are (that comes later) - here are 10 ways you can invest in yourself this week, small changes, that will help make you feel a lot better about your life in the long run.
1. Making coffee 2x a week
I know, I know - you've heard this before. But truly being financial stable is an investment that has no value. It is priceless to walk into a store, or an event, or even to see something online, and know that you have the money in your account to handle whatever pops up. Sometimes, this means stocking away those extra pennies for that "someday" occurrence by giving up the routine trips to Starbucks and making your own coffee at home or at work. At least, a few times a week.
2. Join Digit
I joined Digit about a month ago at a friend's urging, and I have to admit, I was apprehensive at first. Digit "analyzes" (uh oh) your spending habits, and supposedly only takes money out of your account (and into an FDIC insured Digit savings account) when you can "afford" it. If there's ever an overdraft, Digit will handle it. Well, I'm a convert - so far Digit has saved me a little over $30 without my even noticing by taking small amounts when my account is flush, and taking nothing when it's under a certain level. I highly recommend signing up for a passive savings account program like this.
3. Do your dishes
I just broke two glasses because they toppled over in my somewhat crowded sink. Do your dishes on a regular basis, and save your poor dishware from a similar fate.
4. Go to sleep 30 minutes earlier
This one's easy - there are countless articles ruminating on whether sleep is necessary (it is) and how much is necessary (a lot more than we usually get per night.) This week, just this week, try and go to sleep 30 minutes earlier. Even if you spend those 30 minutes in bed staring at your phone, like I sometimes do, you will still be ahead of the game and can get some real rest earlier than you otherwise would.
5. Get to work 15 minutes earlier and leave 15 minutes later
This may seem like small potatoes, so insignificant as to not even matter, but just try it! I'm going to. I haven't done it yet. It's like the blind leading the blind over here.
6. Join the library
Now, don't fall into the same trap I sometimes do - watch out for being overly enthusiastic about your check out privileges, checking out too many books, and incurring $45 of late fees three months later having read only two of twelve books. Yeah, don't do that. But you may be surprised by how accessible most city libraries are these days! You can save books online, select which branch to pick them up at, browse their catalogue and search by interest or category pretty easily, the whole nine yards. I've started making a habit of putting holds on newer books that I want to read once they've come out. Usually there are 70 or so people ahead of me on the list, but that just gives me time to finish my other books before picking that one up. And best of all? If you do it right, it's free! If you do it right.
7. Prioritize your personal grooming
Please see above anecdote. Sometimes you just need to say yes to the...salon.
8. Buy yourself flowers
Another easy way to perk up your week! Support a great local florist (I love Farm Girl Flowers) or, if you're on a budget, head over to Trader Joe's and pick up a bunch for only a few dollars. There's something about being close to nature, even if nature is dyed sunflowers, that brightens your spirits.
9. Find a mentor
If you're in that place where you know you want to keep moving forward in your career or some goal in your life, but you're not sure how to take that leap, maybe it's worth the time and energy to find a mentor who can help guide you further than you can take yourself. Google around a bit, ask your old college career office if they have lists of local alumni, see if any of your friends are in professional groups similar to your chosen field, etc etc. There are tons of ways to find someone you can glean new information from if you have the will to look!
10. Delete Facebook from your phone
This is an idea I'm crediting to Meghan, but maybe not an idea I'll enact myself just yet: delete Facebook from your phone and see how much free time you have when you don't get sucked into aimless scrolling. Or, even if you don't add hours to your day, see what ideas percolate when your brain is left to its own devices for a few minutes here and there!
You are the only you that you will ever be. You know? But that doesn't mean you are the you that you have always been. We are constantly changing, learning, and growing as humans - but that is a direct result of the energy we put in to developing and bettering ourselves. As they say, you only get out what you put in.
(Or, insert another financial analogy if it helps.)
What's one way you feel you invest in yourself? Share in the comments below!