Updated: Apr 6, 2022
Almost a year ago I wrote a blog asking this exact question and made the following suggestions on how to go about investing in yourself:
Get out of your comfort zone
Develop new skills
Surround yourself with people who hold you accountable to higher standards
Develop your bank of experiences
Nurture your networks
But this is such an important topic, that I am writing about it again.
Why? Because I keep hearing people complaining that they don't have time for themselves, they don't have the money to spend on themselves, they can't do this and they shouldn't do that. But that internal rhetoric is not helpful - I know because it has been a big part of my internal dialogue in the past. I know what it looks like from my perspective. But there is power in looking at this from other people's perspectives.
What do your bosses, prospective bosses, colleagues, clients, mentors, subordinates, sponsors and peers see when you choose to say no to your own self investment?
Ask yourself this:
What message are you sending to the world when you don't invest in yourself?
As the CEO of the business of You Pty Ltd, is that the message you want to be sending? I suspect it's probably not.
Investing in yourself is your best return on investment
When you invest in yourself, you are investing in your future. You are investing in the long game of your life and your career. You are investing in the business of You Pty Ltd.
If you take the analogy of your career as a business, would you invest in the products of a business if the business owner didn't believe in and continually improve on his own products? I certainly would not.
Investing in yourself says to the world:
I believe in my own value. I have potential, I have a future and I am optimising on that by backing myself. I am worth your investment, because I am already investing in myself.
Studying further is one investment that comes to mind most often - but it is expensive and far from the only way to capitalise on yourself. You can invest in yourself in a multitude of ways:
explore your creativity by trying out different ways of doing things
get exposure to different experiences and ways of working
choose to work with people who challenge you, not just the people that make it easy for you
set goals and push yourself to achieve those goals
take time to read more, to research more, to be more curious
learn to speak in public
explore your personal value and advocate for yourself with confidence
invest your time in developing and nurturing your network
surround yourself with people who are different to you, who see the world in different ways
ask for feedback and act on that feedback where you believe it is relevant
get out of your comfort zone and stretch your growing edge
get out of the busyness of being busy
I want to elaborate on that last point: get out of the busyness of being busy.
Get out of the busyness of being busy
It sounds a bit counterintuitive to suggest that in order to invest in yourself you need to stop being busy. But the truth is, that in the busyness of life, we are always looking down at what we are doing, being busy getting things done. We forget to just stop, to give ourselves time, to sit back and contemplate, to ruminate, to ponder, to be curious, to reflect, to inquire, to just be.
The problem with busyness is that we forget what is important to us. I remember a time in my life where my response to every question was "I am so busy, I have all these things to do, I can't come for dinner/a drink/read a book/ and I definitely can't take a few days for a long weekend". I used to equate "being busy" with "being important". There was a certain excitement in being able to say I don't have time to relax, to play, to do nothing.
But there was a moment in my career when I realised I was doing it wrong. This moment came, when as a senior manager in the company, one of my responsibilities was to plan for succession, in other words, to inspire and create others to move into senior management positions when the time came to do so. I was in conversation a number of my subordinates about their aspirations to move into senior management positions and several of them said to me "but we don't want to get into a management position - you make it look so time-consuming". That was a bit of a wake up call.
I had been developing the "product" of being a senior manager as something that no one wanted to "buy". I had demonstrated senior management as a a product that required constant busyness, ongoing stress and very little time for self, for laughter, for creativity, for life.
Reflecting back on that, it's not a surprise I was not selling the concept of senior management positions. I was not investing time in myself.
In the business of being you, what are your choices in investing in yourself, saying about the product of you?
Want to learn more about managing your career as a business?
Sign up for my mini online course "Managing my career like a business" You'll get access to 10 videos that spell out what it means to manage your career like a business. You can watch these videos at your leisure, as they are yours for life.