Invested interest

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

In the next instalment of her personal foundation series,  Jan Aitken writes about the best investment you can make.

Jan Aitken
Jan Aitken

Like many, I was brought up to look after my belongings. I think most of us understand the idea of keeping up the maintenance on your car or doing regular maintenance on your house. It's all about looking after your assets. More than that its about investing in your assets. I have a question for you ... do you consider yourself to be your most important asset?

Like Robin Sharma, I am a big believer in the power of ''self-investment''. Self-investment can come in many forms and may be different for you than it is for someone else. You might make an investment by undertaking some personal development, learning a new skill or developing yourself professionally. You could read a book, take a course or attend a workshop. The rewards are numerous and varied, depending on how you choose to invest.

Investing in yourself is based on the concept of looking after yourself or of practising self-care. It allows you to live your life by being the best version of yourself you can be. Investing in yourself isn't ''selfish'' or ''vain''. Investing in yourself is crucial. It provides a healthy source of energy to keep your ''fuel tank'' topped up. Not only will you have more energy for yourself you'll find you have more energy for others as well.

To help get you started I'd suggest having three or four categories to work with. Keep a record of how you are going to invest in yourself. It'll help keep you on track and can check your progress and see how far you've come as time goes on.

For example, you might think about including the following categories. -

  • Personal life. Is there something you've always wanted to do? Is it time to start ticking off your bucket list?
  • Health and wellbeing. Is there an aspect you'd like to improve? e.g. get more sleep, spend 10 minutes relaxing before bedtime?
  • Your professional life. Is there a new skill that would give your work more variety or a course that would help you to advance?
  • Friends and family (significant relationships). Is there someone you'd like to spend more time with? A group of friends you want to catch up with more often?

You get the idea. It doesn't have to be a complicated or mammoth undertaking. Keep it simple. Lots of small steps create big changes.

It's easy to forget to look after ourselves as we move into the festive and holiday season, when life tends to feel even more hectic, so consider investing in yourself right now.

Make a list of four or five ways that you can, and will, invest in yourself, starting this week.

Your list might look something like this:

For the rest of the year, I will invest in myself by ...

  1. Starting each morning with a 15 minute brisk walk.
  2. Cutting out ''screen time'' two hours before I go to bed.
  3. Spending an hour a week reading a book or an article related to professional development.
  4. Spending an evening a week connecting with friends.
  5. Try to keep your list of self-investments simple and attainable.

You don't have to commit to an intensive month-long silent retreat or to suddenly eat only organic food at every meal. It's OK to start small. Just like putting spare change into a jar every day for a year, small investments add up.

However you decide to ''invest'' in yourself through coaching, training, education, new books, nourishing food, more rest, new habits, healthier routines, or anything else you might choose to do, remember this: you are the best investment you'll ever make.

Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.

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