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.
What it means to “invest in yourself”?
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.
Once in a while we get to read books that are too difficult to read because they speak of raw and unflinching truths. Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon is one such book. Read on to hear more on my review of Ziggy, Stardust and Me.
Jonathan has been waiting for his final “therapy” session so that he can be cured of his “disease” and be the son his father wants.
The sixteen year old is bullied at school and ignored for most of the time by his alcoholic father, who is still mourning his wife’s death. At a time when being gay is considered a mental illness and is punishable, Jonathan just wants to be a boy who is “normal”.
When his only friend Starla, a biracial neighbor leaves the town for the summer, he realizes he is truly alone. Except for Ziggy Stardust. He worships David Bowie and has long (and only) conversations with his dead relatives and Ziggy.
But everything changes when he meets Web, a Native American/ Indian kid in his school. Web is everything he wants to be – fearless and not ashamed of being gay.
What happens when their homophobic neighbours, classmates and mainly families know about his secret forms the rest of Ziggy, Stardust and Me by James Brandon.
For a setting that is inherently doomed and heartbreaking, Ziggy, Stardust and Me surprisingly is not. There are many sweet moments and is full of hope, especially in the end when Jonathan starts accepting who he is gradually.
That being said and given the time it is set in, the book has so many homophobic and racist characters that it broke my heart. Unfortunately not much has changed in the last 50 years or so.
I think it is essential for us to learn from our history to understand how homophobic we have been as a society. Ziggy, Stardust and Me also talks about how internalized homophobia affects people, especially younger ones.
If you like David Bowie, there are so many references to his songs and characters and you will love it. Unfortunately, I didn’t know much about them and the references flew over the top of my head.
What worked for me
Ziggy, Stardust and Me is a must read to learn about our mistakes in terms of understanding homosexuality. And it is definitely a hard to swallow pill.
Despite the gloomy background, there were several sweet and romantic moments between the main characters.
The book also talks of music and music icons can play a huge role in saving people from trauma and from others.
While I can’t speak for its accuracy, I loved Web and his Native American (Lakota) representation.
What may have been better
I didn’t get or connect with Jonathan’s monologue, in this first person narration. And that bothered me quite a bit.
I hate the closeted homophobic bully trope. It is a personal thing for me, and I am getting tired of this trope of “oh the homophobes are all secretly gay themselves“.
conversion therapy, (internalized) homophobia, electroshock therapy, homophobic slurs, suicidal thoughts, Bullying, hate crimes, racism, racist slurs, past death of a parent, alcoholism, mentions of drug use, sexual assault,
Ziggy, Stardust and Me is an essential read to understand what the LGBTQA+ community had to overcome to just exists. It is a harsh, intense and raw book that is worth reading.
Who among us would not love reading about superheroes? Well, that was rhetorical! I love superheroes and so does our protagonist Nick Bell. Let’s talk more about The Extraordinaries by T J Klune in my review below.
Characters: Nicholas (Nick) and Aaron Bell, Seth Gray, Lola (Gabby) Gibson, Jasmine (Jazz), Oliver Burke, Shadow Star, Pyro Storm.
Setting: Nova City
Nicholas Bell has the biggest crush on Shadowstar and his long running fanfiction is a proof of that. Shadowstar is one of The Extraordinaries from Nova City who keeps the city safe from his arch nemesis Pyro Storm.
Nick is just an ordinary high school student living with his father who is a cop. In order to gain the attention and respect from his crush, Nick decides that he should become an extraordinary himself, with the help of his reluctant but supportive friends.
Does this doomed plan ever take off? How long would it take for Nick to see the truth forms the rest of the story in The Extraordinaries by T J Klune.
I can’t think of a book that made me chuckle, roll my eyes and laugh as many times as The Extraordinaries by T J Klune did, in the recent past. Nick being “extra” was so endearing and I just wanted him to be an Extraordinary just for his sake (even though I am sure it would be a terrible terrible idea).
I am glad we have moved on forward from making it all his queerness just the main theme of the book. I strongly believe that books need not be written solely to educate people about LGBTQAI+ and The Extraordinaries passes this test colorfully.
Yet, I learned quite a bit about ADHD and Nick’s issues with dealing them. Disclaimer: All I know about it is from the mainstream – I am not the correct person to say if the portrayal was real.
It might be an awful timing like the author explained here, but Nick’s father (who is a cop) punching a guy and still being on the force didn’t sit well with me. We learn that he was just demoted because his buddies “from the force” stood by him and it is so not fair.
And the whole attitude of “good people sometimes do bad things, and that doesn’t make them bad” was off-putting to say the least, given what the police force has been doing in the USA and even India, (and now Chile).
I wish the author and the publishing team had paid a bit more attention to what is happening in the real world. #BlackLivesMatter
What worked for me
I loved how well written and colorful the younger characters were. Undoubtedly, Nick is one of the most entertaining protagonists I have read in a while.
The writing is witty and engaging. And a special mention to the author’s sense of humor. I would definitely be reading more of Klune’s books.
I loved the portrayal of Nick’s ADHD and it helped me appreciate understanding it better. Additionally. Nick’s queerness is not the main focus of the book, which I loved!
What may have been better
I sincerely wish the team should have handled the “cops punching people” situation better.
While I love the way the younger characters were written, I felt all the adults sounded and behaved the same (Nick’s dad, the captain, his wife, the nurses and even Seth’s guardians). After a minute, I couldn’t stop seeing the pattern between these characters.
The Extraordinaries by T J Klune is one of the most entertaining books that I read recently. I loved reading it and loved the portrayal of characters with ADHD.
Despite all the positives, Klune’s choice to take the police’s side makes it harder for me to recommend the book to everyone. If you are okay with that, please read The Extraordinaries by T J Klune.
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.
How to overcome the impostor syndrome
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.
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.