Would you say this to a friend?

As I mull over the prospect of investing in yourself I wonder if you would say this to a friend:

“you know, it’s a lot of money, are you sure you’re worth it? Would it not be better to spend the time/energy/money elsewhere, on someone else, you know, who’s more worthy than you?”

Or what about this:

“I can see it would be really beneficial but for you? I mean, what are you going to do with that information?”

Or maybe this:

“You don’t have time for that kind of investment, who’s going to do all the other stuff if you’re off doing that?”

Well, I’d like to think that you wouldn’t say any of these things to a friend. If a friend said that they were going to quit their job and go and retrain or travel the world then you’d support them right? Even if their decision made you question your own life choices or made you a bit jealous. Because that’s what friends do.

How about how you speak to yourself?

The question is then, why would you say them to yourself? What if we encouraged ourselves like we do our friends? I am not saying that you wouldn’t have a frank and honest discussion with a friend, maybe you might even play devil’s advocate but ultimately I believe that you would have your friend’s interests and feelings at heart. What if you trusted your own heart, intuition, feelings? What if you considered for a moment that it might be possible? What if you looked into it and made an informed decision rather than dismissing it out of hand?

The number one reason we don’t invest in ourselves is…

We can all make excuses for reasons not to invest in ourselves. From being ‘too busy’ to ‘not having the money’ but I don’t believe they are true. We all make time and find money for the things that are important to us. We are willing to sacrifice one or more things to have those things we want and do you know what, it doesn’t even feel like a sacrifice because they are so important, because we want them so badly.

The truth is that the reason we don’t invest in ourselves is due to fear. We fear we aren’t worth the money we need to spend if we haven’t ‘earned it’. We worry about the uncertainty. We don’t believe it will work. We feel guilty that we are spending that time/money on ourselves when there are others who might benefit.

I get it because I have used these excuses and felt these feelings. I still do. To give you a simple example I went shopping the other day for stocking presents for the kids. I saw a pair of PJs that I really liked. I picked them up, put them in the basket. As I walked around the shop I had second thoughts. “How could I spend £10 on something I will grow out of in a few months when I could spend that money on the girls.” I put them back on the shelf and left without them. I do it all the time. And d’you know what…most of the time it doesn’t matter to me BUT sometimes it does. I earn my own money, I contribute to the house, I want to be able to treat myself occasionally and so if it’s important, I invest in myself. It’s taken a lot of hard work to change my mindset.

What about career investment?

Investing in your career can feel similar to buying yourself a treat. It feels like a luxury. Whether you are a stay at home mum looking to return to work and upskill or you are already in a job…the guilt sets in. A common response I get is: “Should I not be happy with what I have…not everyone can have this?”. My answer is…why not you too? There’s enough to go around.

When I was a careers adviser people used to ask me if I thought they should retrain or take [x] course. I always said that it was up to them. Not helpful huh?! I asked if it made their heart sing; if they would do it even with no guarantee of a job at the end. If it did and if they would then yeah, go for it I’d say. But if they were doing it because they felt they had to or because they wanted a new job…well, you can’t guarantee those things. However, in my own personal experience and in my clients I have seen that when people have invested in themselves (i.e. believed in themselves) they have reaped the benefits. So many doors have opened, more than they could have expected.

Of course, we have no idea what will happen but it’s often good. When we admit to ourselves that we are worth that investment then we change our beliefs. When we believe that anything is possible, it is. So my challenge to you before the end of the year is this:

If you feel like you want to invest in yourself, look into it seriously. Make the choice – will you let the excuses stop you or will you explore your options?

5 steps to investing in yourself

  1. What are you afraid of? Where are the excuses coming from? Is it guilt, lack of time, lack of ‘earned’ income?
  2. Write a list of pros vs cons – so you can have clarity on what is important to you and where the gaps are
  3. What is the absolute worst case if you do/don’t invest in yourself? And what is the best case scenario?
  4. Talk to someone!!! Your partner and family first. A supportive friend. A specialist e.g. coach/accountant/person in the area you want to move into
  5. Be brave and use the information you have to make an informed choice

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