My former company recently asked me to speak at their national conference. I didn’t leave on “good” terms with a couple people, so I thought the invitation was odd. I met the request with skepticism, but ultimately chose to oblige out of respect for the person who brought up the idea. The experience humbled me, inspired me, and energized me to revisit musings about productivity, leadership, and self-investment.
One of the slides on my power point presentation read,
You owe it to yourself & the people around you to be the best version of you.
In order to be the best version of yourself, you have to work on yourself. Initially, that may seem selfish. I used to agree, until I took some time to investigate this self-investment idea. I started small, as in a 175 page ebook. It’s contained some short stories about reaching for goals, motivating your team, and getting the most out of your day. I read it on my own time and it wasn’t an Earth-shattering experience. But I pulled a few ideas from it. Ideas that I implemented with my (then) team. Ideas that helped them earn more money. My personal investment allowed me to bring my best self to my work. Had I not taken the time to read that book – opting instead to be “selfless” and continue investing in my team – I would never have had the epiphanies I did while reading.
Without trailing off on a tangent, I’ll keep this point simple. If you want to learn how to be a better person, you first have to learn to invest in yourself. This doesn’t mean something’s wrong with you or that you’re broken. Investing in yourself gives your best qualities (and everybody’s are different) the opportunity to shine through.
Now that you know WHY you should invest in yourself to become a better person, here are 15 ways to show you HOW to invest in yourself. I suggest you pick out a few, start small with one or two. Then and stick to them every day (James Clear has some excellent thoughts on sticking to habits).
Below the list you’ll find my method for implementing these investments. Once you’ve mastered them, add another. If you don’t find value in something, ditch it. Add/subtract as needed, but give them ample time – at least a month or two – before scrapping one. My personal list of self-investments is in continual flux so don’t worry about picking out the “perfect” investment. In no particular order:
15 Painless Ways to Invest in Yourself Everyday
1.) Read – More specifically, read a book. We receive most of our information in the form of Facebook posts, tweets, or news headlines (because who reads entire news articles, right?). To balance this out, force your brain to pay attention for longer than three seconds by picking up a book. I love non-fiction and business books, but you don’t have do what I do. Read anything you like, there’s something for everyone: Martians, Origami, or maybe just a classic.
2.) Write – Writing can be therapeutic and relaxing. It can get you in touch with new ideas through free-writing or it can just give you some time to blow off steam. I write in short, long, and medium forms. Find what works for you. Tim Ferriss loves the 5 minute journal, I prefer this book of 300 writing prompts. You’d be amazed at what spills onto the pages from your mind with a little nudge.
3.) Meditate/Pray – Some people would consider prayer time their meditation time. You might do one, you might do the other, you might do both (like me). Whatever you choose to do, this is one of the most important investment on this list. It forces reflection and it clears your mind. If you’ve never tried prayed, start here. If you’ve never meditated, try some guided meditations or an app like Headspace.
4.) Exercise – I don’t need to reiterate something you’ve been hearing for decades. Move your body in some way, shape, or form. You will feel better, you will live longer, and you be happier
5.) Daily Affirmations – This one might have a few people scratching their heads. An affirmation is simply repeating the thing you want to achieve or remind yourself. If it’s lose weight, you write or repeat in the mirror 15 times. It’s cheap, easy, quick and if you’re looking for something to help you stay focused on a goal, this is a perfect activity.
6.) Be Grateful – We received a challenge from our church late last year to be grateful for 30 days. So for 30 days I called or texted or wrote a note to someone I was grateful for every day for a month. I’m sad to say I fell out of practice, but it was fulfilling for me as well as the people I contacted.
7.) Fill a Bucket – Tom Rath wrote an short book titled How Full Is Your Bucket? (he also published a kid’s version) in which he discusses filling the bucket of your life. If you spend time being negative, you dip from your bucket. But if you’re positive to others, you fill their buckets as well as your own. Find a way to “fill someone’s bucket” with a positive word or helpful hand each day and you’ll simultaneously fill your own.
8.) Stretch – Yogis will love me for this point. Amongst other things, stretching improves athletic performance, decreases likelihood of injury, and slashes stress levels.
9.) Breathe – Taking a few minutes to breathe correctly can help you decrease anxiety, reduce stress, and improve physical performance. This instructional video shows you how to breathe with your diaphragm instead of your chest.
10.) Drink a Cup of Tea – No, not coffee. Tea. Tea typically has less caffeine than coffee and will make you less jittery. Do yourself a favor and slow down with a cup of tea, especially in the afternoon. If you haven’t noticed, part of investing in yourself is limiting your stress levels. Drinking tea can help you slow life down to a snail’s pace for a few minutes before the chaos of life begins again.
11.) Contact Family Just to Say Hi – My Dad has Alzheimer’s Disease so I know my time with him on this Earth is limited. When he was diagnosed I made a promise to myself that I’d never waste an opportunity to contact him because I won’t always have that luxury. Your parents/siblings/grandparents may not be losing their minds, but all of our time here is limited. There may be things more fun on your list of things to do today, but few that will mean as much to the recipient.
12.) Take a Walk – Some of the greatest minds in history took walks: Aristotle, Beethoven (the composer and the dog), Steve Jobs, etc. It counts as exercise to get the blood flowing and it clears your mind like meditation, walks are a creative way to knock out two birds with one stone. Solo walks through deep wooded forests aren’t available to most of us, but I bet that conference call moderator wouldn’t mind if you walked a couple laps around the building with your ear buds instead of parked it at your desk for the next 20 minutes.
13.) Make a List of 10 – I hijacked this idea from Mr. James Altucher. You can read more about it on his blog, but the idea is to make a list of 10 things every day. It stretches your mind muscles (after all, creativity is a muscle) and forces you to think outside the box.
14.) Go Dark – Turn off all electronics for a certain period of time. There’s a reason people perform social media and technology cleanses, it helps them start fresh. Technology interrupts every facet of our lives and we need a break from the interruptions to stay sane. For me it’s evening and night-time so I can sleep better. Maybe for you it’s the car ride to work or early in the mornings.
15.) Take One Step In The Direction of Your Life’s Goal – When I left the company to whom I just delivered the speech in the opening anecdote, I decided I wanted to do something big with my life. So I started writing a book. Later this year my work will be published. I didn’t sit down to do this in one afternoon, I worked on it for two and half years. Writing this book gave me great pleasure. The process challenged me, it forced me to grow by learning new skills, and it has made me a better person. Pick something HUGE to do with your life and work towards it every day. In a year or five years or ten years, you’ll be happy you took all those baby steps. You can find out more about my book at www.BelieveEG21.com.
When you’ve got your list (which, remember, will change over time) do something to keep yourself accountable. I use the reminder app on my iPhone. I don’t get each of them done every day, but this is a simple way to keep myself accountable. You can “undo” each task every morning to give yourself crisp start.
I also keep a log of my “strike days” in which I knock all my “pins” down. This gives me a simple incentive to try and get all items checked off in a day.
The path to becoming a better person is just that, a path. It’s not a destiny. Each of us has things we want to work on and few of them are overcome overnight. Use this information as a starting point for your journey and begin investing in yourself today. Just like a financial investment, the compounding interest of these daily activities will produce a wealth of positivity when you stick to them.
How do you invest in yourself? I’d love to hear from you through the comments or Twitter.
Have a great day!