7 Different Ways to Invest in Yourself
Jul 4, 2016
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “invest”? You probably associate it with the stock market or some other financial venture, right? Great! Those are positive things to ruminate on, no doubt (and certainly as part of the SELF MADE discussion). But for starters, we’re referring to a whole other kind of investment. We’re talking about the magic that happens when you, with full intention, make the unabashed commitment to invest in yourself.
So What Does it Really Mean to Invest In Yourself?
When you invest in yourself, what you’re really doing is choosing yourself. You’re banking on yourself to make moves that take you further in life. As SELF MADE’s author, Nely Galán puts it, when you choose yourself, “people will notice you, and they will choose you over and over again.” Investing in yourself means you stop drifting through life waiting for things to happen, and instead take concrete actions that bring you closer to your best self. Because in order to start your journey to financial self-reliance, you’re going to need the best version of yourself possible.
Nely also says you have to kill certain parts of yourself for others to be born, which means you have to kick the parts that no longer serve you to the curb, and make room for your true, authentic virtues to shine.
So how do you start? How do you actually go about the business of investing yourself? If the entire prospect is daunting to you, try simplifying it by breaking it up into chunks. Look at different pieces of your life that might benefit from a revamp, and at the same time start looking at how you might go deeper with certain aspects of yourself. Here are some examples of what we mean. Consider it a recipe for awesomeness.
1. AM Journal
Ah, the good old morning journal. Cherished, praised and advocated by practically every wellness coach, motivational speaker and creative on the planet. Why? Because it’s fool-proof. Writer Julia Cameron in the seminal The Artist’s Way referred to this early morning journaling process as “the brain drain,” a way to empty the mind of its hectic and often overburdening jumble, to at some point, start to distill its many hidden gems.
2. Get a Dream Team in Place
Would you hire a math tutor for your kid if they needed an extra boost? Or a therapist, if they seemed a little detached or sad? As you start to think about how to invest in yourself, you need to mother yourself with that same gusto. If you need a life coach, book the appointment. If you’ve been battling against those ten pounds, get a trainer and/or a nutritionist. If your accounting is a mess, enlist the services of a bookkeeper. If you’re feeling spiritually empty, maybe a priest, rabbi, pastor or some other clergy person can help. There is great power in mentorship and it can come in all kinds of ways. Whatever your specific needs are, realize that there is absolutely no shame in getting some help.
3. Fake it ‘Til You Make It
Nely calls this “acting as if,” which is what she advises you should do when you have a goal, but have not yet amassed the skills or experience necessary to execute fully on it. In SELF MADE, she talks about how she has trained herself to channel the energy of men when she’s trying to raise money. She also says she has studied the style, tone and body language of preachers to prepare and train herself for public speaking. In both case, she willingly and unapologetically steps out of her comfort zone to embody the qualities that she’ll need in the moment.
“Do what it takes to convince yourself—take real action, educate yourself, create the kinds of things that would be expected of you in that role,” she writes. “It won’t feel comfortable at first; sometimes it’s terrifying. But you’ve got to make it a reflex. It’s like a muscle that you have to exercise until it becomes strong.”
4. Carve Out an Hour
Nothing happens without action, and it is precisely action—even in the smallest doses—that you will need as you start to become self-made. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by the prospect of “starting something.” Instead, think of a way you can give your time to it, for one hour per week, be it to brainstorm ideas, to write about them, to sketch out designs, to chat with your mentor, to pick a mentor. Whatever it is, commit to one hour, where you sit down, without social media buzzing in your face, without distracting e-mails to answer, and without your “real job” to deal with. Call it you time.
5. Put Yourself Out There
Networking is king. Or queen, as it were. We can’t say enough about the value of putting yourself out there. How will people know you exist? How will you make connections. It’s true what they say: it’s all about who you know, so get out there and know people!
Networking is a magical thing because you never know who you will meet who will ignite a spark in you, be it professionally, creatively or even just socially. Enroll in entrepreneurial or women’s conferences, go to meetup groups, join a writing group, take a professional cooking class with a fancy chef. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re circulating among like-minded people who are ambitious, creative and like you, also hungry to connect. Who knows, maybe that one woman you end up sitting next to at some conference will be the angel investor to invest in your startup idea.
6. Find Your Voice
No matter what direction you’re going to take as you become self-made, you’re going to have to find your voice. Whatever you embark upon will require that you give a tone, style and message to your brand, which will all culminate in the essence of how you want the world to understand what it is you’re offering.
In SELF MADE, Nely tells women “in your pain is your brand,” which means that anything you have suffered (or still suffer) becomes the seed of the problem that you, through a potential business, can aim to solve. Take Jovanka Ciares, for example, whose health started to fail and she kept hitting walls with doctors, none of whom could help her feel better. So began her amazing career as a wellness expert!
7. Get Intentional
Or as Nely likes to call it, “declare yourself!” If you love to write poetry, say you’re a poet. If you love to cook, say you’re a chef. If you want to start a company, see yourself as a CEO, and and “act as if” until you actually are. Be intent on figuring out who you are deep down, and make it your mission to live in those shoes. As Nely writes, “there is much to be learned from paying attention to yourself. Everything you do, every choice you’ve made or will make, is important, because you are important. There is no narcissism or grandiosity in this. It’s about putting yourself in the mindset that your actions count, that your decisions have implications, and that you have chosen yourself and put your faith in your own ability to succeed.”