Do You Invest in Yourself?

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It took a long time to realize that I should invest in myself, that I should put my own mask on first, etc. Too long. To that end, I wanted to share some thoughts with you.

When I was in my 20s, I flirted with college over and over again. My parents paid the first time around. Then, different employers would foot the bill and I’d march off to some other university or another. (There are over 20 in Boston). For any number of reasons, college didn’t do much for me. I found the learning to be too boring, too outdated, and rarely applicable to what I thought would happen next. So I didn’t bother.

I have only the smallest of regrets. I wish I had a degree in law and a degree in journalism, not because I want to practice either as a profession, but because what I’d have learned from those degrees would have been helpful to me. But that’s only a smallish regret. You know, if I had a chance to do it over, etc.

I spent the next bunch of years not really caring about much, not getting far, being an employee. It was a paycheck, and then a couch, and a TV, and whatever passed for excuses for why I wasn’t especially creative.

What Changed It All

I can tell you the exact moment I started caring. I was watching a PBS funds drive (you know, when the public television stations need your loot so they bring out all the good shows?), and Les Brown came on. He had a speech and a book called LIVE YOUR DREAMS, about how he went from being classified as “educable mentally retarded” to becoming a DJ, then a motivational speaker, and then to hold public office and then some. That was probably the first time I glimpsed the realization that I didn’t have to fit into the labels I’d let other people give me.

What followed was picking up books by Anthony Robbins ( and later meeting him), and books by Dr. Stephen R. Covey, and learning more and more. And then realizing that I could write my own story. What I learned, however, was that this meant choosing a pretty difficult path.

Put Your Own Mask On First

When you fly, the safety briefing points out that we must secure our own masks first. What they mean is simple: you can’t really help anyone else unless you get yourself squared away so that you won’t pass out in the middle of trying to be helpful. Covey would call this “sharpening the saw.” And sometimes we get this. Other times, we think of ourselves as selfish. But is an investment in ourselves really selfish?

Where Do You Invest Right Now?

Every time I say “invest” in this post, I’m talking about your time and your money and the investments I mean are in your day-to-day living, and not any abstract stock market. That’s important as a starting point. But now? Let’s get a little bit into this.

I invest in myself in the following areas:

  • Fitness and health. Have switched to a mostly plant-powered diet. Lots of vegetables, very little (almost no) grain or sugar, almost no meat. I’m working out. I do yoga.
  • Mindfulness. I’m meditating daily and practicing mindfulness and my head-setting mantras (thanks to Jacq).
  • Education. I spend money on books and courses for my own development and the betterment of my ability to serve others.
  • Time with my kids. I have chosen different paths lately so that I can have more time with my kids. This is most definitely an investment and one I’m glad to make.
  • Longer term projects. By keeping myself focused on the larger plans of my business (and for me), I have to say no to some things now, but am investing in a better “soon.”

I’m curious where you invest. And more so, I’m curious where we both have the opportunity to trim some of our expenses so that we can invest even more.

Trim Out “Expenses”

In 2009, I prided myself on flying every couple of days for conferences, for sleeping four hours or less a night, for having a hectic lifestyle. That turns out to be quite a bunch of withdrawals from various “accounts.” My kids were seeing less of me. I was getting run down. The frantic pace “felt” like business, and there was some revenue being made, but I was also burning more and more money to try and keep this all flowing.

Where are our other expenses? Television. Do you really get something back for your investment in television? Rarely. That’s an expense. Surfing needlessly? Same. We spend time as if it’s not valuable. Now, that doesn’t mean that we have to be hard at work all the time. But instead, it means we have to be mindful of where we choose to invest. Are you spending far too much of your time volunteering? Yes, volunteer. It’s VITAL for doing good. But if you’re OVER-doing it, that’s not helping everyone. That’s not putting your own mask on first.

Ask yourself this question often: “Is this the best use of my time?” I have that conversation with myself all the time. I also ask Rob about it, too. He is really getting into InfusionSoft, our email service provider. But as COO, that’s not really where I need him to focus most of his attention. Me? I go off on tangents all the time. I have the question taped to my monitor.

Whose Celebration Is This?

I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing the Sakyong Mipham, head of the Shambhala lineage of Buddhism> One of my favorite parts of his new book, The Shambhala Principle: Discovering Humanity’s Hidden Treasure (affiliate link) was this concept of being a lot more mindful of where we invest our time and energy. “Whose celebration is this?” That was the question. It essentially was meant to point out that we tend to get caught up in other people’s rituals and moments. For instance, worrying about one’s Klout score, or worrying about what the other parents at the PTA say because you stopped coming to the meetings, or trying to keep up with the Joneses, or wanting to watch every episode of every TV show so that you know what to say at parties.

We invest so much energy and time and money into those areas of our lives.

But do we invest in ourselves?

Commit to Investing

I have some very simple commitments right now that help me invest in myself:

I want you to commit to investing in your development, in your growth, and your intentions to build a better community around you. How will you do it? Which paths will you take? And will you choose this over just snacking on whatever’s around?

Will you put your own mask on first?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/nnwalker Nicole Walker

    My current investment is “reading” and the History Channel. They are both my escape and meditation. I like the oxygen mask analogy. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

    This is great because it makes sense. For years now, I’ve been a major advocate for therapy and 12 step. Traveling and touring as a career for most of my life, lends itself to all sorts of disfunction!

    I’m a firm believer that in order for any of us to create the awesome, we have to start the investment in ourselves first!

    Thanks for being who you are Chris, and doing what you’ve been created to do!

  • http://twitter.com/TaniaDakka Tania Dakka

    Salt. Salt. Salt.

    She’d figure out a way to do this. I’m working on the investing, but there are so more fronts to invest in than there is energy to do it.

    Salt. Right?

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  • http://bsoi.st/ bsoist

    I learned of “sharpening the saw” from Covey years ago, and it makes so much sense. I’ve tried over the years to do that. It’s not always easy.

    I’ve noticed recently that your “Goodnight moon”s have been early, I wondered if you were really headed to bed or just hanging with the family. Either way, it’s good for you. :)

  • Mike Rudd

    Nice post Chris! My early 20′s were fun and I was career focused but didn’t invest as much into myself as I should have! The later 20′s brought books back into my life, healthy eating (the workouts were never a problem), and trying everyday to think of others before myself.
    Recently I’ve learned you just need to take it one day at a time…that’s all we can plan for or concern ourselves with!

  • Brandon Lewin

    Great post! I really like how you threw in the work-life balance into the invest-in-yourself conversation. It is so true. You have take care of you as much as you take care of business. In all actuality, most people are the business.

  • tadastursa

    Absolutely amazing post. Time is our most valuable asset and still so many of us tend to waste it as it wouldn’t matter. Everyday is like a bank account if we fail to use and invest our money into proper activities that makes us a better person, then what are we living for?
    I guess if we want to live better, we need to sacrifice something of a lower nature for something of a higher nature.
    Well invested time in yourself is something of a higher nature.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • http://cashwithatrueconscience.com/rbblog Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Chris,

    I meditate daily. I also spend time working on my mental tools. Taking 5 minute breaks each 25 minutes. Exercising for 1 or more hours daily…and traveling again, this time heading to Peru, to enjoy the internet lifestyle.

    Meditation helps you see that your being selfish benefits all. You are happy. You influence like-minded people to be happy. Otherwise, it is the blind leading the blind.

    Thanks dude, inspiring stuff!!

    Ryan

  • http://twitter.com/FirstName_Galo GALO

    This is a great analogy, Chris. I love how the simplest examples can really be the bridge to an idea/concept.

  • http://www.brasscycle.com/ Rich McElaney

    Very timely post for me to read Chris. I had to laugh when I read the part about your sign – I just created one for myself over the weekend. Here’s mine:

  • Darrell

    Thoughts well worth pondering as I try to juggle everything else, maybe it time to stop everything else and see what is really important.

    Thanks Chris

  • http://twitter.com/mitchjackson Mitch Jackson

    More than anything else. Thanks for spilling the beans on how to be successful :-)

  • http://www.frugalexpat.com/ Frugal Expat

    Thanks for sharing. I am glad I found this post, really, Inspiring.

  • http://www.successful-entrepreneurs.co.uk/ Doug_Tobs

    Great article, i find the list of investment areas you mention make you feel a sense of achievement and pride when they go well. All these help you grow personally and as a family member. nice work

  • http://rumzi.co/ SL Clark

    Everywhere I’ve turned lately, this mantra leaps to the forefront. Calendar and I are renewing our old friendship. Thank you for another timely post!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kaptain Kaptain Waleed Mirza

    I would want to invest on my wardrobe, heavily and very seriously..!!

  • http://twitter.com/avilbeckford Avil Beckford

    Chris,

    I meditate daily as well using Centerpointe’s Holosync. What I find is that when something upsets me, I am able to quickly reframe the situation.

    And it’s important to do the things that matter in life. My mother died unexpectedly a few months ago, and we are still in shock. As a way to heal I decided to do something that I love, which is reading. My mother always encouraged me to read from an early age. What I am doing is intentionally reading books by authors from around the world, and create the a Virtual Literary World Tour on my blog. Having read nearly 50 books by authors born in 18 countries, it’s an amazing learning journey and cultural experience. One of the books I recently read is Shambhala the Sacred Path of the Warrior. One thing that stood out for me in this book, is opening up yourself to yourself, which at first sounds like double speak, but it’s stripping away all the masks that we wear and become vulnerable and authentic.

    Thank you for taking the time to write this post. Avil Beckford

  • http://twitter.com/DHanchey Deborah Hanchey

    It takes conscious effort to stay focused. If I forget one morning, the rest of the day suffers. There’s a lot to say for spending some time daily remembering why you are doing what you do.

  • Owen Marcus

    Chris,

    This is one of your best posts. It all comes down to investing in yourself… and taking the long view on it. You are an excellent model of investing outside the traditional realms. We often limit ourselves by how we invest. Doing it out of the box can really leverage your investing.

    My mantra for years has been: “Does this take or give me energy?” If in the long run I will lose energy on my investment I won’t do it. That said, part of running a business and living life is being willing to make bad investments. As you point out, often the biggest returns comes from our mistakes.

  • http://twitter.com/littlepots Kris Pennella

    Thanks for the great post! You can’t read advice like this too often.

    I think your best ideas flow when your mind is clear and open. Could be while meditating, reading a book/article. Keeping yourself open to inspiration is tough in our world of distractions. Realizing what’s causing them and minimizing them is the way to move forward.

  • http://tedprodromou.com/ Ted Prodromou

    Brian Tracy was the personal development guru that changed my life. He led me to Jim Rohn, Og Mandino, Stephen Covey, Tony Robbins and more. I own over 100 books and courses from these gurus. The Silva Method was my first venture into meditation over 20 years ago and I still meditate today.

    My daily routine includes meditation, daily hikes, yoga and I’ve been changing to a plant-based diet too. I’ve lost 15 pounds since January and feel great.

    Thanks for sharing Chris!

  • Jacob Nasz

    The first, and most important investment in yourself is to learn to smile. Smile to yourself there in the middle of us. This is the first step. Next go longer easily.

  • http://doingthings.net/ Andrzej Tucholski

    Sorry for being so prosaic but investing in yourself is very crucial even on the literal, financial field. My friend once told me that I should always invest 10-20% of what I earn into new books, seminars and so on. If a person really wants to learn and develop skills, this kind of investment turns the progress value into a hockey-stick-curve :)

    And from the more human investments: smiling and being positive. As the saying goes: “change your vocabulary and you will change your world”!

  • kimberly

    LIVE YOUR DREAMS! Sometimes we care about others and we forget invest time in ourselves. it is very important take actions about life. The education is one of the most important hings in my life.

  • http://twitter.com/CareerExitStrat Career eXit Strategy

    Getting rid of television really does save time. Like the old saying it’s bubble gum for the brain.

  • Jaime

    This is a great post. I completely agree that you should invest in yourself. I recently came back from China with my MBA class. I invested in this opportunity knowing that I would learn a lot and hopefully have an amazing time too. What I learned from this trip is that I need to break out of my comfort zone. In the States, I just do what I’ve always done and am stuck in boring routine. Instead, I should
    invest in new experiences and activities which will help me have a richer and
    more interesting life.

  • http://twitter.com/switchinghats Ellen Curtis

    My husband has for years talked about “putting your mask on first” philosophy. At first, I thought it was selfish, especially the Mom in me. But I have come around to his and your thinking. If you are not good to yourself, you are not good to anyone else.

  • Max

    Im 17yrs old and nobody told me this before. Im read this article for the first time. But i ask myself this question before every desicion, try to eat healthy alot, havent watched tv for like 6months and i ask and learn alot cause my brain hungry! I guess i figured out early. This article is a like confirmation to me :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/dustin.cucciarre Dustin Cucciarre

    Great article! I started investing into my self about 2 years ago when attending a Tony Robbins seminar.

  • Tim Bonner

    I started out by studying classical music at university and then lost so many years working in the UK pensions industry.

    Now, I have two kids, I’m a stay at home dad and whenever I can, I write stuff on my blog.

    My investment in myself is investing most of my time in my kids. They’re still young enough to need a lot of my time. They’re two and five. After that, well, the skies the limit and I’m ready to invest loads of time in myself.

    I must admit, I need to switch the television off, write more, do more exercise. No regrets other than I wish I had stayed true to myself all those years ago and pushed to stay around the classical music scene.

  • http://www.fissionlink.com/ Gail Monique Mallo

    I invest on myself too mostly on reading, learning, writing and reading some more. On health, doing pretty poorly on that but I do take my medicine daily as maintenance for heart problem.

  • http://benfranklinfollies.com/ Sheree Martin

    Very happy to see another person recognize the importance of sleep, Chris. Those who think surviving on 4 hours of sleep is a good thing will, one day, wake up to find they’ve destroyed their health in the process.

    It may be selfish of me, but my #1 priority has always been my health. If something makes me feel bad, I quit it or don’t start it to start with. I’m all about living a holistic life.

    You’re sharing an important message with this post, through all the elements.

  • http://twitter.com/fredabramson Frederic Abramson

    Chris, I will happily trade my law degree for your creativity and marketing insight.

  • http://twitter.com/MattLBrennan Copywriter Matt

    I can see the tie in between what you do and a journalism degree (developing a writing style that engages people). I also have the journalism degree. As an educational foundation it’s priceless. I recently saw a WSJ jobs ranking that had newspaper reporter as the WORST job out of 200 possible.

    The need to engage readers isn’t going to go away. Instead it’ll continue to be a skill with increasing importance in business.

  • Joe Sie

    Thank you. this is one of the best post. invest in yourself.I invest myself on reading and writing.

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  • http://twitter.com/Gmercalli Giorgio mercalli

    Thank You for the post Chris. My job is as COO of a small company in Italy and often I spend the full day helping people of my team. I ever was sure this was the best thing to do. But in this way, some of my days go away and I felt as if there was no real contribution from my side. And this is frustrating. This idea of ” put my own mask for” could be really a big improvement. I ll try to stick to it and to invest in myself.

  • http://twitter.com/a_tischler Andreas Tischler

    That’s a great post. Thank you for this. Now I’m always aware if I’m putting my mask on first.

    Used to be over-aid others and didn’t focus on my own projects enough. But the only constant in this world is change.

  • http://twitter.com/rockandrollzen Mark Hermann

    Really great post, Chris! It’s funny but when you don’t have cable TV, you’re forced to entertain yourself by engaging in life! I can write more articles and music, spend more time with my kids, read more from and engage with those people whose work educates and inspires me (you’d be one of those).

    Meditation has been the single greatest investment with highest ROI in my life. The greatest training you can invest in is training the mind! The whole idea of thinking of another’s happiness before your own as a way to actually make you happier seems counter intuitive, yet it so works! It’s really hard to get up at 5:30am to have my “me” time to sit but so worth it. Great reminder.

  • http://twitter.com/frank_manzella Frank Manzella

    Love the Article Chris, I’m creating a new blog that will journal my experiences in reaching my goals. I want to build a community around like minded people who are looking to take action and start realizing their goals. I also want to share great resources with them such as articles like this. thx Chris

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  • Rachael Tiow

    Love this article Chris! Practicing mindfulness helps bring awareness to our day-to-day activities and long-term goals. Without it, as you’ve written very eloquently in this article, we end up squandering away our precious life instead of investing in personal growth. :)

  • webnavgal

    I just am realizing how I always look forward to your writing for a reason that wasn’t apparent to me at first. Your words are comforting. I thought I continued to keep coming back to your site because of your marketing insight. And of course, I do, but, like all great communicators, you have a underlying tone that carries your words and, for me, it is comfort. And then I remember, “Good Night, Moon.” Thanks, Chris, for encouraging all of us to invest in a better “soon.”

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  • http://www.callboxinc.co.uk/ Hannah Hamilton

    In investing yourself. there is a wide variety of marketing strategies available today, you have to choose where you can get the most benefits. When you’re offering your visitor something they can receive for free, you can easily position yourself in the market that you’re interested in.

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