When people discuss an investment, they are normally talking about a financial one. This could be their house, savings account, stocks and shares, or anything which they hope will increase in value over time.
I have been known to talk about the need to invest in our health, by way of eating a nutritious diet, maintaining a healthy weight and taking regular exercise. As an investment, I honestly think it is one of the best ones we can make, as it is certainly true that without reasonable health, not much else in life matters!
Investing in yourself
That said, my best investment has not been into property, the bank or other assets…..but into myself. That inevitably includes a large element of doing the right thing to maintain my health, but there is more to it. To grow and develop into the person I want to become is a never-ending process of self-development, not only on a physical, but also mental, emotional and spiritual level.
This hasn’t just involved an investment of money, but also the time, energy and the ongoing commitment necessary to learn new skills and grow on a personal and professional level. Sometimes that has required me to invest money in a coach to guide me and keep me on track (I am a huge believer in the power and accountability which comes from having a coach), but it is also simply reading, thinking, questioning, listening, watching and just learning.
It is said that if we are not continually evolving and challenging ourselves as people, then we are in fact going backwards. It is human nature to want to learn and better ourselves, and that takes persistence and hard work.
I started really investing in my own self-development when I was in the last year of my university studies. Until then, a large portion of my life had been dictated by societal expectations and norms – go to school, pick the subjects you are interested in from a limited range, take exams, earn qualifications, then go to university to study some more.
Then at 21 I had an American boyfriend, quite a few years my senior, who was fascinated by the world of self-development. He gave me a huge appreciation for the power I had to direct and influence the course of my life. I went from believing that the concept of self-improvement was some form of new-age cult and too abstract for me, to it becoming an ongoing area of investment that has massively influenced who I am, my mindset and my sense of purpose.
Now there is rarely a day when I am not in some way investing in myself, be that in my exercise regime, working on or in my business, attending conferences, taking courses, listening to podcasts (I have my own Upbeat Warrior podcast coming out next month), reading, meditating, journaling – it is all part of moving me towards my goals.
I am fortunate that as a self-employed person, even my ‘job’ as a rehab specialist is an extension of my personal interests and passion. Almost everything I do is part of a bigger plan to positively influence the lives of people living with long-term health conditions.
The power of mentorship
If I look back over the last 10 years, I have invested in excess of £30,000 in attending conferences to further my skills, joining mentoring and accountability programmes, and surrounding myself with people who are way brighter and better than me. It honestly is the best way to learn and grow.
The cynical of you could say that it is hard to see where that investment has directly impacted my income, and yet I fervently believe that I am a better trainer, a better coach and equally a better human being as a result of the skills which I have learned.
It is not simply practical skills. The ‘soft’ skills I have learned are perhaps the ones which have made the most difference to me; self-awareness, kindness, compassion, gratitude….these have all been honed and developed at the same time.
For me, working hard to better myself is part of what it means to be alive. I don’t want to waste a single moment of my time here, as I know how short it could be. Failing to live up to my potential, especially if through apathy and complacency, would feel like the ultimate waste of my life.
Spend a lot of time in a care home and it won’t be long before you hear about regrets, more so for the things not done than those which were tried. I am going to keep drumming home this message until as many people as possible hear it; this is your moment, your one life. You don’t get to come this way again and try an alternative plan.
Leave a legacy
Even if you live with a health challenge, as do many of my friends and followers, you can use that as an excuse, or you can use it as motivation to become the best version of you despite any limitations. The rest of the world won’t care about what you can’t do, just what you achieve and the legacy you leave behind.
So, even if you are not sure where your real passion lies, try a few things out. Invest in yourself on every level – physical, educational, emotional and spiritual. It doesn’t even have to cost money. Very often it is just that regular commitment to honing your skills using whatever resources you can find to move yourself towards your goals.
In these days of the internet and an unlimited supply of (often free) information, there can be no excuses for not doing something to better yourself every single day.
I like to ask the question, ‘Is what I am doing now taking me towards or away from my stated goals?’ This doesn’t mean that there is not downtime, but that there is not an excess of ‘wasted time’ which serves no useful purpose.
I am often reminded of the exercise where you document what you would do if you knew you had five minutes, five hours, five weeks, five months, or five years to live. How differently would you value or invest your time? Go on, I dare you to spend the next 15+ minutes thinking about it.
Investing wisely in myself and my personal development has had a bigger influence over my life than anything else. I will never, ever, stop learning and trying to improve myself. My ultimate goal is to positively impact more people, not just whilst I am here, but hopefully even when I am gone. That legacy will be about the things I did and the influence I had, and that means that there is never a better time to invest in myself than right now.