With our schedules stretched to the max, how can we ever hope to find the time to develop our personal skills? Between working 40 hours a week (or more), our children’s sports schedules, and responsibilities that overwhelm our every waking minute, finding the time to increase our self-knowledge and individuality seems impossible.
Investing in yourself is often overlooked when people search for ways to increase the value of their work and their lives. So many people are searching for meaning in their lives, but they fail to understand that only by taking the time to improve themselves can they ever hope to elevate the quality of their lives. If you want to move up in your organization, what is going to separate you from the rest of your colleagues? When your marriage is struggling and you need to improve your communication with your spouse, what is going to help strengthen the bonds between the two of you? If you're suddenly put in a leadership role at work or in your business and you need to acquire the skills to properly develop those around you, what will help you along the way? The answer to all of these questions is: Self-Investment.
But what exactly do I mean by "Self-Investment"? The phrase is the culmination of a conscious effort to improve your skills, developmental processes, and overall personal quality. Self-Investment, simply put, is a way for you to increase your awareness of your own skills while also acknowledging your weaknesses. Luckily, there are a number of relatively cheap and easy ways to do this:
1. Read Books:
I've mentioned this in a number of previous posts, but reading has the power to improve your understanding of a number of important topics. Books that focus on leadership, business, personal development, and life motivation can help you take advantage of situations that otherwise might have passed you by, and they create a guideline for you to improve your daily activities that can lead to long-term success.
If you don't have the money to purchase books, try visiting your local library or used bookstore. For less than you'd spend on a few gallons of gas, you could purchase a handful of books while helping a local business. The great thing about books is that their ideas are usually timeless.
2. Listen to Podcasts:
Again, this is a tool that I've fallen in love with over the past two years. This is a free resource that is available to anyone at anytime of the day. Using a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you can listen to some of the greatest minds in the world discuss topics that include political, business, family values, scientific discoveries, leadership, and hundreds of other ideas, and the great thing is that these podcasts can be viewed at your leisure.
Personally, I use the app "Podcast Addict" and follow a handful of podcasts that I check at least once a week for new episodes, but you can use whatever resource you find most pleasurable. If you are stretched for time, try listening to the episodes while you mow the lawn, clean the house, or drive to work (using Bluetooth in your car, not through headphones).
3. Force Yourself into New Situations:
So many people wake up each day, go to work, and then come home. Their schedules after 4:00 pm or 5:00 pm include nothing but making supper, going to the store, or watching television, and then they have the audacity to gripe about their lives being boring. My question for those people is this: What are you doing to break the monotony? Nothing!
You need to venture out and find new experiences for yourself. Sign up for the basketball league at your local YMCA. Find a dance studio and take weekly lessons for at least 8-10 weeks. Volunteer at your local food pantry or homeless shelter. Find a nonprofit in your area and ask how you can help spread the word about the organization. My point is simple: By forcing yourself into situations that make you uncomfortable, you will make new connections and learn new skills that will be helpful in the future. You learn to network with individuals that can help you grow your business or might be interested in hearing about what you do for a living. This creates priceless connections for everyone involved.
I'm grouping exercise and meditation into one bullet point, although they are very different activities that provide their own unique benefits to your life. Exercising regularly can help improve your overall fitness level and longevity of life, and studies have found that individuals that exercise have more energy and mental focus than those who do not. Exercise is almost a great channel through which you can push yourself to the limit and truly find out how strong you are inside. Every day is a new challenge.
Meditation is another overlooked activity, and it is one that I have struggled to implement into my daily schedule. But when I do meditate regularly, I've found that my days are less stressful and that I am more productive. I use the time to clear my mind and focus on what I want to accomplish.
All of these activities are ones that can be accomplished in an hour or less, and each can help you increase your physical or mental productivity. The important thing to remember is that investing in yourself is one of the easiest and most important efforts you can give during your life, and if done correctly, it can provide some amazing benefits.
These four steps take time, so don't expect results in a week or two. But if you consistently engage in self-investment and truly work on improving yourself and the effort that you give in chasing your goals, you'll find that your productivity and efficiency will increase tremendously.
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