Streamline Your Life

Investing in Yourself

In many ways, I am writing this one for myself.

Many of my entries on this blog have been about finding a better career, or just escaping from a bad one. There were countless days I spent looking out that window in a faceless office dreaming of a better life for myself.

What I failed to understand at the time was that I really needed to invest in my own skills to get to a better place. I learned a few very valuable lessons over the course of my transformation from office worker who longed for a life outside the cube into a freelance web developer and writer. I needed to invest in my own talents.  I needed to be patient.  I needed to go toward a goal instead of go away from something I disliked.  

I also learned that if I invested in my skills and took the time to develop them, I could never go wrong.  

The notion of investing in yourself applies to all areas of life.  For instance…

You cannot effectively give your skills to an employer if you have not fully developed them. You will not be hired.  And even if you are hired, you’ll look pretty foolish sitting in front of your computer with a bunch of assignments you cannot handle.  If you are supposed to create a website, but you don’t know any HTML or CSS, then good luck.

Questions to Ask Yourself

What are you good at? Is there a talent you have that you could work on developing? If so, don’t worry about the money. That will come when you invest in your skills.  Spending some of what you have is part of an investment.  And it’s far better to invest in yourself than in some silly stock market that is falling apart anyway.  This is tongue-in-cheek, of course.

Where are you in your life? Are you ready to be a freelance writer, if that’s what you want? You could throw yourself into a place where you quit your job entirely and start writing a book. But this will not be helpful if you haven’t had a chance to explore your writing ability yet. Dreams are wonderful, but you need to invest in yourself to make your dreams a reality. 

What risks are you willing to take to get want in order to invest in your skills? If there is a great art school where you could go to get better at what you do, but in order to get there you have to spend a ton of money and move to Tahiti, is it worth the risk? If it is an investment in yourself, then of course it is! This is very important:

Some risks are worth taking now, some later, and some not at all. To be wise enough to know the difference between these three is truly an enviable place to be.  You certainly don’t want to blow a great work opportunity that may not come again.  I’ve done this too.  I still beat myself up over lost opportunities.

Giving to Yourself

A very wise person once told me that if you give to yourself, only then will you truly be able to give to others.*

Most of us think the reverse is true: Do unto others…. well you know how the axiom goes.  This is totally wrong.  And once you start seeing your life in this manner, nothing can stop you.  What good are you as a firefighter if you have no idea which direction to point the hose?  How can you perform an appendectomy if you don’t know where the appendix is, or you have no idea how to make a proper incision?  How can you bury people in a cemetery as an undertaker if you are a necrophiliac?  Ok, strike that last one.  I think you get my point.  Invest in yourself first, then you will be ready for your dream career.  If not, you will be no good to anyone, and your work life will be miserable.

*This was my mom.  Mothers can be very wise.


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