I have been hesitant to write about this topic because I know what you might be saying to yourself. “Yes, I know investing in myself is important. There is nothing new that she can tell me – it’s just hard to do when I have so many other higher priorities.”
I wish I had the magic phrase that would immediately inspire you to enroll in that course you have on your mind or read that book that is sitting by your bedside, or finally meet with your mentor (or finally find a mentor!), or take a day off to disconnect and refresh, or whatever it looks like to you to invest in yourself.
I know overcoming the internal voice saying there are higher priorities is tough because I didn’t do it when I was in your shoes – and I knew it was important too. Trusted mentors told me to do it then, but I still didn’t. Why not? Fear mostly. Financial security was at the top of my priorities then, and I was afraid if I didn’t show up 110 percent that, my bosses wouldn’t think I was dedicated, ready, or able to take on more responsibility.
I also had ambition. I wanted to contribute and make a difference. I also was afraid that my children would suffer if I prioritized myself. And, because Iwas working and not available to them as much as the stay-at-home moms, I felt that they were already suffering, so I had much to make up. Finances, career, and family– these were my big three priorities, and it felt like they were often at odds with each other, and I was constantly juggling.
Taking time or spending money on myself seemed selfish –even foolish - and I couldn’t fathom doing it.
Hindsight shows investing in yourself now is better
Fast forward 30 years. Hindsight is always clearer, and how I wish I had thisinsight back when I could have used it to make a difference in my life and thelife of my children – not to mention the people I worked with and mycompany.
What would have been different if I had invested more inmyself earlier in my career? Who knows? Maybe everything.
When I decided to get a master’s degree, I did it because I felt it was required to be considered for higher positions. I loved the field of study and would have done it much earlier, but with a busy work schedule, I didn’t think I could “afford” the time away from my children or my work. When I found a program that fit my interests and schedule, I jumped at the chance. I wasn’t sure I could do it. It was hard, and I had to be very focused and efficient, but I completed it.
I learned that my children survived and saw their mother work for something important to her – and do it. This was some of the best parenting I ever did (feedback from my children!). I expanded my network to include people who enlarged my worldview and positively challenged my thinking. I became more confident in my abilities and more assertive in expressing my ideas.
The momentum to change your life starts with you
The degree wasn’t the most important thing. The deciding to get it, the work to complete it – that was the thing that made the difference for me. I took control of my life and acted to change it for the better, and this started the momentum that accelerated and grew in a positive direction. I began to see that when I felt good and did well, so did my children and my work. I started seeing more ways to develop and grow and see direct results.
I wish I could say that I had this all figured out when I decided to get my degree, but I didn’t. I didn’t know that by making the decision, I would change how I thought about myself, and that would change how I showed up in the world – and in turn, open up new opportunities and possibilities. But I can share this with you now.
If I could time travel, I would go back in time and give my younger self a big hug. I would tell her that it is tough, and sometimes scary, to juggle so many responsibilities. And, in the end, it will all turn out okay. But there is a chance to create a life that is even more amazing, deeply aligned with your true self, and long-lasting and fun – all that is required is that you slow down, take the time to figure it out – and invest in yourself – NOW.
Some ideas to start investing in yourself:
• Find amentor and schedule regular meetings. Learn more about mentor relationships on Seasons Leadership Patreon or on our blog post: Nurture Relationships with Mentors to Accelerate Success.
• Get a coach. At Seasons Leadership we offer coaching.
• Take an online course in a subject you love or that gives you a skill you can apply on the job.
• Join Seasons Leadership Patreon – we provide tools and processes to accelerate your leadership excellence journey.
• Extend your network and create opportunities to share ideas.
• Get physically active – find some way to move your body daily.
• Incorporate healthy eating into your daily routine.
• Create asleep routine that facilitates a night of restful sleep.
• Create space in your week to do something that you love.
• Spend focused time with people who are important to you.
Remember, you are important now.