When we talk about "investment", we tend to immediately think of financial investments. I think we need a more holistic view of investment in life.
Most would agree that the ultimately goal of financial investments beyond "generating a return from the invested asset" is to enable you to live the life you want. I argue that investing in yourself, that is, in your physical, mental, social and financial well-being will not only enhance your overall well-being, but will also help you accelerate your path to living your dream life!
So how do we start to invest in ourselves? Here are the top five ways of investing in yourself:
1. Invest in Your Physical Health
Your body is the foundation of your life. If you are not physically fit, you will struggle with almost anything. When your body is in an optimal state, your energy levels will be maximized so that you can optimize your efforts at work, and be able to fully enjoy your hobbies and holidays much better as well.
💡 Some of the most basic things you can do in your daily life to invest in your body are to make sure you get enough sleep, drink lots of water, eat a balanced diet (see simple ways to make your meals more exciting) and exercise regularly (see how to move more (without going to the gym)).
To truly sustain the habit of exercising, you need to find the type of exercise that clicks for you as well as the frequency that fits your schedule. For example, I enjoy taking group fitness classes (either in-person or by watching YouTube videos) the most. I also find that formally exercising for around an hour each time, 2-3 times per week is the optimal frequency for me.
If you create unreasonable expectations for yourself, you will set yourself up for failure.
💡 Make sure to get a physical exam every year and that you don't put off seeing a doctor. If you tell me you don't have time to see a doctor, that means that you really need to go see one!
2. Invest in Your Mental Health
In general, we don't give as much attention to our mental health as we do to our physical. Therefore, it's not surprise that stress, burnout, anxiety and depression are on the rise in modern society.
💡 Make sure to take time to relax and do something fun to reduce stress. Ensure you schedule time for your hobbies (see how to find joy from doing things that you used to as a child).
Sometimes, just staring at the sky and doing nothing is what you need. Give yourself the permission to relax in the ways that you find most satisfying (check out this article where I discuss why you should take rest seriously).
💡 It's important to be aware of the signs of common mental health issues (such as depression and anxiety) so that you can get assistance quickly if you're experiencing any of the aforementioned issues.
💡 Educate yourself about some of the most common and effective ways to keep your mind in good shape, such as exercising regularly, socializing, and keeping a gratitude journal.
💡 You may also explore new strategies for dealing with your mental health issues and build your own "toolbox" of resources to pick and choose from as needed. For example, when feeling overwhelmed, some people find it useful to take a stroll, while others may find taking a nap is the most effective.
3. Invest in Your Social Health
Feeling lonely? Well, you are not alone! Studies have consistently shown that loneliness has been increasing over the years. The rise in remote work is making it worse. Therefore, it is ever more important that we pro-actively seek out social interactions.
It can be especially difficult for those who are more introverted to initiate social interactions. I'm definitely one of them. This can be even more challenging when your friends and family are not physically near by.
💡 One way that I stay in touch with my friends that don't live nearby is to set-up recurring virtual meetings. This takes my mind off the pressure of having to make an effort to socialize and ensure I get my bare minimum regular dose of social connection to maintain my social well-being.
💡 Meet-ups are also great way to meet people in a new area and establish new acquaintances.
4. Invest in Your Career & Financial Well-Being
We all know by now that we should be saving for retirement, investing our money in diverse assets, etc. Another way to ensure we secure our financial future, is to continually investing in your career development so that you maintain the ability to continuously generate income.
💡 For example, you can take online classes and attend workshops to sharpen your knowledge and skills in your area of work or build some new skills! For example, since I graduated, I have taken a course on how to cook and appreciate simple, healthy & tasty food and drinks, which has significantly improved the quality of my meals. I also took another class on personal branding and marketing and I'm already seeing these paying off as my personal brand keeps going.
💡 You can stay informed with the latest developments in your industry/area of work by attending conferences, reading relevant news and attending professional meet-ups with others in your field. These are great ways to expand your professional network and advance your career.
💡 You can also diversity your income stream by starting a side-hustle. To get started, make a list of all your hobbies and abilities and consider which of them may be turned into a moneymaking venture.
5. Invest in Getting To Know Yourself & Self-Development
Getting to know ourselves as much as we can is helpful in so many different ways. It helps us make the right life choices that we won't regret: from finding a partner, to choosing a career to deciding where to live. So it is important to take some time to get to know yourself so that you will make the right decisions that lead you to the life you want!
💡 Start by taking some assessments to get to know your personality and values, as well as your vocational interests (check out the assessments here).
💡 Check-in with yourself on a regular basis and ask some deep questions like:
How happy am I with different aspects of my life?
What do I want to change about myself/my life right now?
This will help you set some near-term goals for yourself so that you are continually becoming a better version of yourself and improving your life.
💡 You can also regularly reflect on your past experiences in your life and ask yourself questions like:
What year in your life has been the best year so far? What important events happened? What did you do?
Conversely, what year in your life has been the worst year so far? What important events happened? What did you do?
This kind of exercise can help you understand what brings you the most happiness in your life, so that you should do more of that. In the same way, you will understand what makes you the most unhappy, so that you can try to avoid doing those things going forward.
💡 Finally, visualize your future by creating a vision board on what you want different aspects of your life to be like in a few years. For example:
Imagine your life in 5 years. What images come up?
What do you hope to have accomplished in your work?
How do you envision your social life?
How do you wish to spend your time outside of work?
The above exercise will help you prioritize your current goals to keep you on track to your dream life!
Investing in yourself helps you achieve your life goals faster, improves all aspects of your well-being and allows you to thrive in life. Of course, just like with financial investments, investing in yourself will "require a sacrifice of some present asset, such as time, money, or effort". I hope you are able to find joy in your self-investment journey! :)
Identify one area from the above that needs the most "investment".
Take one action this week to start investing in yourself!
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