How much have you invested in your education since graduation? Up until recently, my answer to that question was, “not much.” I have always believed in continued learning and personal development. I have invested thousands of hours into reading books and listening to podcasts. But I’ve been quite frugal when it comes to the financial investment.
I recently attended my first conference that I paid for out of my own pocket. I’ve been to countless conferences, meeting and speakers over the years, but none that I personally invested in. The conference itself was $500, which isn’t going to break the bank. But once you add in your airfare, rental car, lodging, meals, and time away from work, and it’s an investment.
Let me be honest – making that investment was scary. I let my doubts get in the way and wondered, “what if I invest all this money and don’t do anything with it? What if I’m not ready? What if I make a fool of myself? Can I even do this, or am I an imposter?”
Thanks to the support and encouragement from my awesome husband, I did it anyway. It was an amazing experience. Here are my top five reasons to invest in yourself NOW.
Why You Must Invest in Yourself Today
1 – Increase the Value by Having Skin in the Game
I spent hard-earned money on myself and I’ll be damned if I don’t make it worth it. Most of us are more likely to take action when there is a cost associated.
2 – Bask in the Company of Like-minded People
Jer and I don’t fit in any box. We’ve developed our own ideas about life and have become comfortable doing our own thing. Some people call us dreamers, some say we’re extreme, others say we’re making huge mistakes, and some say we just got lucky.
Following your own path can be lonely. When you invest in something that’s important to you, you will find yourself surrounded by others who are just like you. For the first time in a long time, I felt like people got me, and that’s just what you need when you’re chasing down big bold dreams.
3 – Open Your Eyes to New Opportunities
There are millions of opportunities in the world, but they’re not always easy to see. Today’s world of Instagram and Facebook allows us to filter out our problems and share our highlight reel.
Being in a group of people who are all working toward the same goal removes the barriers and encourages people to share their struggles and ask for help. From these struggles, you can clearly see the opportunity for products and services based on your expertise. During the two-day conference, I wrote down nine opportunities, most of which I was previously unaware of.
4 – Find Clarity Through Honest Feedback
In my post about uncovering your uniqueness, I mentioned that I’m wired to be direct and honest. I value honest feedback from others, which can be difficult to find. Being in an environment where everyone is on a similar quest encourages feedback you wouldn’t get elsewhere.
I received feedback on what was working and more importantly, what wasn’t. These minor tweaks will put me months, if not years, ahead of just figuring it out alone.
5 – Use Your Gifts to Help Others
I’ve said it before – you’ve gotta give before you get. Zig Ziglar said it best, “You can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough people get what they want.” If it’s success you desire, ask yourself what you can give.
I was in a group of people who were much more talented than me. But I have unique business and marketing experience that allowed me to help others see new opportunities. The idea that I may have accelerated someone else’s success is rewarding in and of itself.
How to Make it Happen
Now that I’ve explained the why, let’s take a look at the how. These five simple steps will help you maximize your investment in you.
1 – Know What You Want
What are your goals? What are your trying to improve? Where do you need help? Drill down on what you are working toward so that you can identify the best opportunity for you.
2 – Schedule It
Schedule and book your opportunity as soon as you find it. I signed up for this conference three weeks after it was announced. This was a good thing because it sold out well in advance.
Had I not signed up and paid for it right away, I probably wouldn’t have attended. We all get busy, and if things aren’t scheduled, they don’t happen. Take my advice to book it and schedule it right away.
3 – Budget It
One of the most significant changes we made over the last 5+ years is sticking to a budget. I run our household budget like a business and it drives Jer crazy. But, this has afforded both of us a great deal of freedom and flexibility.
As long as we’ve been married, we’ve had irregular income. Irregular income can be a huge blessing if you plan in advance for it. I build our household budget off of base salaries, then create a separate plan for our incremental income. For a few years, it all went toward paying off our mortgage. Another year we socked it all away for remodeling. This year I’ve designated a significant percentage to invest in ourselves. I suggest creating a similar plan.
4 – Participate
Like many of my readers, I am a huge introvert. I enjoy getting to know and spending time with new people, but I need to force myself out of the house. I’m also somewhat shy, so starting conversations can be challenging for me.
I could have easily sat in the back corner and kept to myself. But I chose to speak up when I had something of value to share. Although I’m not great at starting conversations, I made myself open to let them happen. These choices helped me come away from the experience with some wonderful new relationships.
5 – Take Action
While the conference or course you attend is important, it’s just the first step. What really matters is what you do with the information after. Based on feedback I received, I spent the first week making updates to my website and brand. I also launched services based on experiences during the conference and my trip back home. There’s much more to do but taking the first steps was satisfying and kept the momentum going.
Today is the day to start investing in yourself. You’ll enjoy the benefits of forging new relationships and seeing new opportunities. Take the steps to schedule and budget for your investment today. Your future self will thank you.
What is the largest investment outside of college you’ve made in yourself?
How has it changed you?
Share in the comments below.