Investing doesn’t always have to be about wealth or money. IMHO, the best investment would be to invest in yourself so that you have a fulfilling life, and that would possibly help you earn as you as want to.
The past year threw curveball on many of our plans and dreams. And for many of us (including me) it has been a drastic wake up call. I realized that my life could turn upside down in a day and I was not anywhere closer to whom I wanted to be, if and when that happens.
The gap between the person that I am currently and the person that I want to be is quite huge. And I consider anything that I do to fill that gaping hole is an investment in myself.
Why investing in yourself matters?
AKA what are the primary benefits in making a bet on yourself or by making an investment on you as person, not your job or business?
Investing in yourself:
Makes us grow into a better person
Helps us to build self confidence
Opens avenues for financial and career development
So what do you think are that areas that you can work on to start investing yourself?
1) Set SMART goals
Knowing where you want to go in the next 1, 5, and 10 years will give a great start in helping yourself reach there. This applies for both personal or business/professional growth.
And not just any goal or target, but set a SMART goal.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time bound
Setting a goal and a plan to achieve those goals is the critical step towards your dreams.
2) Develop your skills
Many a times, developing your skills or even learning a new skill can boost up your resume and open new avenues in terms of your career. But there are quite a few skills that help you to lead a better life in general.
Enrol in a few free webinars or workshops
Youtube and TED talks are also great resources
Advance your education through certifications
Stay on top by subscribing to publications and blogs
3) Read read read
You knew I was going to say this, right?
Reading is the best and most economical way to invest in yourself. The reading habit gives you a second hand view into lives of others and a chance to learn from their experiences. It also gives you a glimpse into their perspectives and way of life.
If you are newbie, here are few non fiction titles that are short and can be a good a good starting point.
If you are into fiction, these books are a good for a kick start.
4) Find a mentor/coach
Your path to success need not be always alone. Finding a role model or a mentor for yourself can have a huge impact, both in your personal and professional life.
A mentor can help you navigate the hurdles along your career path. You can find a business coach and even a life coach who are willing to share their experiences and knowledge, online.
5) Manage your life better
One of the best ways to invest in yourself is to spend time to organize your life and manage your time better.
A simple time audit exercise might go a long way to know where you spend your time and efforts on and then if they are worth it. I never knew how many hours I waste deciding which book to read next, rather than reading itself.
Planning your week and days ahead and creating routine for yourself may seem complex at first, but once you have tried it you will never go back to being a “unplanned chaos”.
6) Put your health first
More often, in the pursuit of success and wealth, we put our health on the backseat.
Investing on yourself means keeping your body and brain healthy. Put in some time to exercise or some physical activities in your new routine.
I know most of us run on caffeine but replacing that with just water. Include greens and other healthy choices in your daily routine.
These small habits affect our mood and happiness, and thus increase our productivity as well.
7) Choose to be happy
Speaking of mood and happiness, make a conscious effort to keep yourself positive and cheerful.
I know with all that is happening around the world, it is definitely not easy to be light and happy always. But it is ok to step back when it gets overwhelming and choose to be happy.
“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”- Abraham Lincoln
8) Get rid of toxic relationships
As a step towards choosing to be happy, get rid of those negative and toxic friendships from your life.
We are made of habits that we pick, subconsciously or not, from our surrounding. It goes without saying what happens when we are staying in an environment that is not conducive to our growth.
If you want to invest in yourself, invest in choosing positive and supportive friends, and getting rid of those who are not.
9) Find a community
Surround yourself with people with whom you belong and those who travel in a path similar to yours. The more social relationships you have, the better your mental well being will be.
You don’t have to go out of your way to build a community, just look around (and online) based on your interests.
The book twitter fam would be a great place to find your tribe, if you are a bookworm like me.
Make some time to create and cultivate new relationships, so that they add meaning to your life. And maybe they will create new opportunities further down in the future.
10) Give space for your creative process
While creating your new and improved schedule, ensure you have some creative space for yourself. Creative space may mean different to different people.
I can’t do without some quiet time during the mid day. Usually, I need some white noise and maybe a power nap to get through my second day, especially if it is hectic. That never fails to help when I am too distracted and can’t churn out a 1500 word article immediately.
My friend does mandala art or Zentangle to keep her thought spirals away. There are few more who swear by early morning meditation.
It doesn’t always have to art or painting, it can be anything that makes you think differently than usual.
Find out what your creative outlet is and OWN IT.
11) Give yourself a break
More than everything, please be kind to yourself. Be conscious about how you speak to yourself. Ask if you will say that to your friend. If you won’t, then why are you so hard on yourself?
It is okay if everything doesn’t go according to your plan. Forgive your mistakes, acknowledge that you can do better and work on it. No need to pull yourself down, especially when the world is so hard you as well.
12) Catch up on your sleep
Finally, the most important one. Do not mess with your sleep cycle! Try to go to bed at reasonable hours and wake up refreshed. Put your screens away before you hit the bed.
Consistent sleep pattern can be the best investment you can make on yourself and your physical well being.
A well rested person can be more productive, more creative and more happier than others who are on constant sleep deprivation.
The key to investing in yourself is patience. None of these tips would make you a different person overnight. You keep practicing them daily and in the long run you will see the change in yourself professionally, mentally and emotionally.
I have been working as a freelance writer for more than five years now and you wouldn’t believe the number of times I stopped myself before I mentioned that on my about me page. Yes the scary impostor syndrome is much more common than we like to acknowledge. And that’s exactly why we are talking about how to deal with the impostor syndrome and how to overcome it.
Well, when I spoke about this impostor syndrome to some of my friends who are in the similar profession as mine, I was shocked to understand that they shared the same worries as I did. At least once a week, I contemplate if I am a fraud, an impostor, trying to show off as someone who is knowledgeable than she is actually.
And these are some of the things that actually work for me, and may do for you too.
And without a beat, I read some of the comments and engagement I received on my blog posts to remind myself that there are indeed people who want me to talk about it.
Reminding yourself of your past positive experiences and appreciations will help in defeating the impostor syndrome and other self doubts.
Know Your feelings
Your emotions including mood swings matter. Understand why you are feeling the way you are and what triggered you. Are you comparing yourself to that person? Did you meet someone who make you trigger the impostor syndrome?
Spend sometime to objective understand what your triggers and warnings are. Knowing the cause and effect might help you avoid those pitfalls or even use them as a motivation.
If you are a perfectionist, impostor syndrome might be a common occurrence for you.
You are probably setting your expectations far too high than the standards, and consequently setting yourself for failure right away. And if and when you fail, it inevitably leads to shame and guilt.
As a self-sabotaging perfectionist you are focusing on your mistakes and shortfalls, instead of your positives. Curbing the desire to be perfectionist is a good way to overcome the impostor syndrome.
Avoid negative self-talk
Boost your confidence and esteem by curbing your negativity towards yourself. Often these self talks sow the seeds for the impostor syndrome that you are trying to overcome.
Visualize your success and benefits every time you have self doubts. Stop attributing to your success sheer luck or hard work, but accept that you did well because you are talented.
impostor syndrome is usually accompanied by the fear of being discovered as a fraud by others. What if someone finds that I am not good enough? How long till they figure out? These fears and insecurities impact the future performances and becomes a vicious cycle.
Instead take action to overcome the impostor syndrome by constantly increasing your knowledge and increasing your productivity. Focus on sharing these knowledge with your peers and consistently work on being valuable to the team and your clients.
Take actions towards reducing those insecurities instead of letting them affect you.
Start a conversation
Reach out to someone whom you trust, like a friend or colleague and understand if they can relate to your feelings. Build some support system where you can share your experiences and insecurities and try to deal with the impostor syndrome.
Hearing reassuring and encouraging words from others might dissuade your self doubts. And it may not come as a surprise that women are more prone to self doubts and it is harder for us to overcome the impostor syndrome.
Fake it till you make it
Sometimes we fail and there will be things that we do not know. But that is what we are here for – to learn and grow. A few losses do not make someone a bad athlete or a bad businessman.
So the next time you hit by a wave of self doubt, fake the courage and confidence that you aren’t feeling at that moment and dive through it. If you win, you would know that you are capable of doing it. And if you don’t, you will learn how to do it.
I was not been a great morning person, until a few months ago. Just a few weeks into the new year, I realized I was always running out of time in a day and decided to get up few minutes earlier to catch up on things. One thing led to another and now I can’t stop raving about the benefits of waking up early.
Waking early by 6 AM is a habit that was expected of almost every Asian kid and as I got into later teens, it somehow translated into a rebellious thing to do – waking up at 8 or 9 AM. But now that I am an actual adult who has a never ending to do list, things have come to a full circle.
Let us talk about some other benefits of waking up early.
Getting a head start on the day and ahead of your usual schedule can make you feel better about yourself. The feeling of being in control and not running like a headless chicken translates into a peaceful and productive day for me.
I even sneak in a bit of reading (non fiction books) into the morning schedule and that makes me feel like I am on the top of the world.
The quiet time
With the new normal of working from home and the non stop zoom calls and texts, getting some quiet time before the chaos starts is a blessing. Not having to think over the noise of Netflix and the other background commotion helps in focusing on the work in hand.
I wake up an hour or two earlier, depending on the day, and having the whole house to myself is a perfect way to start a day.
It is no secret that the brain is alert and focused in the morning, at least once you have loaded it with caffeine.
With zero distractions and the newfound quietness, means you can put in some meaningful work as soon as you get up. And the high that you got some deep work done, will let you ride through the day on a positive note.
Eating the frog
We all have the one thing on your to do list and you keep procrastinating until we reach the deadline. And then half bake it, so that we can get it done with.
Don’t get me wrong. They are usually not even something I hate doing. And it is sometimes something that I want to do really well.
Of late I have been working on doing those special something tasks as soon as I wake up, like the post that you are currently reading. More often than not, these tasks require focus and uninterrupted time – a great choice for the morning task.
Being more organized is a goal by itself for many of us and waking up early is a good way to start with that habit.
Get your breakfast on time
I can’t skip breakfast and I end up getting headaches if I do. While it is a good thing, I used to have the first meal of my day at around 11 AM (as I used to wake up around 9 AM), which meant the subsequent mealtimes are also disrupted.
But since I started waking up early, I have been eating my breakfast by 9 AM or earlier, which is something I have been trying so hard to so far.
So there is no more excuses for you for grabbing that granola bar or simply skipping your breakfast. Eat something filling and healthy, dude!
An extra hour or two
Not having a work life balance and not having time in a day are some of our usual complaints. But when you wake up early, you are basically getting an hour or so extra each day – an hour that you can spend on exercising or reading a book that you have been promising to.
I know these benefits of waking up early sound cool. But in reality it is definitely hard to get off the bed in the morning especially in the cold winter.
Here are some tips that worked for me when I started waking up earlier
Try to go to bed earlier. If you are a night-owl like me, I know it sounds hard. But it is all a matter of getting into the habit. If you usually go to bed at 12 AM, try to sleep in 11 PM – baby steps work better.
Don’t think waking up early as a chore. I know it sounds harder, but if you understand that it is for your own benefit, not some thing you HAVE TO DO as an adult.
Instead, imagine waking up early as a reward by itself and you are getting an hour more each day.
Hype your morning up. Just before you sleep, mentally plan and prepare for all the task on you to do list. Imagine of all the things you can get done from to do list before 9 AM.
And finally, do not think. Get off the bed as soon as you wake up. Give your brain no chance to come up with excuses to get two minutes more of sleep or to snooze.
Life and the society are not making it any easier for us with their norms, judgements and meanness. And it is quite easy to get bogged by all these negativity, but hey, we can’t give in, can we? So here are a few tips on how to feel better about yourself even on your bad days.
With all that is going on around the world, this year has been really hard for all of us. And instead of worrying and feeling bad about it, get on with your quest to finding out how to feel better about yourself starts with yourself.
Identify your triggers
Knowing what made you feel bad about yourself is very important to figuring out how to feel better about yourself. Create a list of words, comments, people and their actions that can potentially make you feel down.
Did someone say something poor about you? Was it the social media that affected your mind?
Write them down. Identifying who or what the trigger was and removing or reducing their presence around you will minimize the chances of it recurring and will help you feel better about yourself in the long run.
Assess criticisms objectively
Yes we are going to be criticized and judged all through our life and we can’t get away with them totally. Trust me, we all want that.
But what we can do is control our reactions to them.
Instead of spiraling down the self hate lane immediately, stop a minute and give a thought about it objectively and honestly. Sure that is difficult but try to understand why they are saying what they are saying.
Is it really coming from the right place? Are they being affected by your “whatever they are commenting about”? Is it something that you want to work on? Is it even worth going the trouble of pulling yourself down?
Watch how you talk to yourself
Keep a close watch on how you talk to yourself. The way you see yourself matters a lot, even if you don’t realize it. Every time you find yourself saying something negative, STOP.
And make it a point to keep the language positive.
Surround yourself with people who bring you up
It is not just you and your self talk that affects your mood. Surround yourself with people who genuinely like you and bring up the best qualities in you.
Sticking with people who have seen the better version of you and boost you for those qualities instantly make you feel better about yourself. It goes a long way in improving your self esteem too.
Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
When you keep yourself in the midst of amazing talented people, it may be possible that you are comparing yourself and your success to theirs. And that can be a reason why you are feeling low often.
We just get to see just a part of others’ lives. So unless we walk their walk, there is no way to know what they actually go/went through to reach wherever they are now.
So stop comparing yourself to others and save yourself a heart break already.
Dress up your game
Start paying attention to what you wear and wear something that you like seeing yourself in. It doesn’t have to be a red carpet wear but ensure it makes you feel better about yourself.
Also you may want to start with a daily self care rituals to remind you that you love yourself, even when the going is not smooth.
The only way to get out of a dark tunnel is through it. So keep moving ahead, even and especially when you don’t feel like it. Don’t stop your routines because you have a bad mood.
The daily monotonous grind is what will keep you from crashing on those days that you are feeling down, and eventually YOU WILL feel better and avoid overwhelming yourself.
As many techniques and hacks you learn to improve our productivity and life in general, it more or less boils down to one thing: are you motivated enough to follow them? So here are some motivational quotes about productivity and time management to kick your butt nudge you in the right direction.
These quotes are from well known productivity pundits as well as highly renowned leaders in their field. Some of my all time favorites are in here too.
Never mistake motion for action. – Ernest Hemingway
Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week. – Charles Richards
It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about? – Henry David Thoreau
Should you find yourself in a chronically leaking boat, energy devoted to changing vessels is likely to be more productive than energy devoted to patching leaks. – Warren Buffett
Simplicity boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest. – Leo Babauta