This week on the blog I'm talking investing - specifically, I'm talking about how to invest in yourself and see that investment pay dividends in the future. Sounds a bit wishy-washy? Well, stick with me and see what you think!
We're all familiar with the concept of investing money - even if we don't do it ourselves, we know that there's the option of putting money into certain companies or funds to try to make a profit. We also know (hopefully not from experience!) that the value of this type of investment can go down as well as up, and we can actually lose the money that we put in.
But what does this have to do with our actual lives? Well, whilst investing money might produce returns in the form of financial profit, investing in ourselves is almost guaranteed to provide returns in different ways.
How often do we sacrifice our own needs to "get the job done"? How many times have you put yourself last, so that others can have what they want? Sometimes those things are important, but if we keep ignoring our wants and needs, they have a habit of catching up with us. We can end up stressed, mentally and physically unwell, and struggling to keep up with our day to day lives. If we don't invest in ourselves, nothing will change.
You've probably already got some of the basics down, but let's recap:
People who spend time around me will be familiar with the concept of "past Sarah" and "future Sarah" (even though most of my colleagues think I'm odd for saying it!) "Past Sarah" sometimes does things that she might not want to do (like staying late in the office to finish paperwork, or going running when it's raining), which always benefit "Future Sarah" either in terms of having more time later, or improving her general health. Of course, that often means that "Present Sarah" has to actually do things that she doesn't like in the moment, but not all ways of investing in yourself involve doing boring things that you don't enjoy.
Other ways that you can invest in yourself:
Take up a new hobby
Hobbies are really important when thinking about investing in yourself. Having a hobby that you're passionate about gives you an escape when things are difficult, and you're also learning how to do new things, which is good for the mind and body. Bonus points if it's a social hobby that gives you a chance to meet new people and make friends. It doesn't really matter what you choose to do with your time, but it's got to be better than another Netflix binge one night a week.
Give yourself an hour a day
Linked in to the previous point is the idea of giving yourself an hour a day to do whatever you want to do - as long as it feels like an investment. It might be taking up relaxation or meditation, going to the gym, learning a new language or just taking that time to focus on basic self-care and stress management. But an hour is only a fraction of your day (4%, or thereabouts) - surely you can take that time to do something that improves how you feel or what you do on a daily basis.
Automate your life
Spending time making life easier is definitely an investment - it gives you more time further down the line. When you have the energy, things like batch cooking, setting up a schedule for cleaning, and spending a bit of time unsubscribing from those annoying email lists that you subscribed to in 2002, can really help to make life easier.
Learn something new
There's always space to learn new things! This can really help in any career you want to work in, but lifelong learning is also just a good idea in general. Life can get boring if you don't learn new things - whether it's reading a new Wikipedia page every day or learning a practical skill like how to change a car tyre, every new thing you learn has the potential to improve your life. Just make sure that you're learning things that you can actually use to make things easier or better, not random things like how many cups of tea we drink in the UK per year (it's almost 36 billion if you don't want to click the link!)
Ultimately it can be hard to think about investing in yourself when you're struggling, but if you think about the kinds of things that you could do to give "future you" a boost or a helping hand, you can probably come up with lots of different ideas. Once you've got a plan, all you have to do is start.
Tell me what you're planning in the comments section!
Dr Sarah Blackshaw: Clinical Psychologist, blogger, tea drinker, interested in dinosaurs and shiny objects