Invest in Yourself

“It’s important to invest in yourself.” I’m sure you’ve heard this before. But what does that really mean? In the last five or six years – and in the last two years in particular – I’ve created opportunities to invest in myself and have learned a few things about not only what that means in terms of how and where to invest, but also how the long-term outcomes from these investments have increased my personal capacity and self-worth as an individual.

When I talk about investing in yourself, I’m not only talking about taking those HR trainings at work to build your understanding of your professional work, I’m also (and more significantly) talking about developing a set of personal values (exclusive of those on your work’s mission statement) and finding things you love to do and diving into them.

Determining Your Values

I have spent quite a bit of time honing in on my personal values. Not what the values of my workplace are, but what my own values are in terms of putting words to my moral framework and life non-negotiables. By thinking through these and getting them down on paper, I am able to know more clearly where my hard lines are, when I’m drifting from my center, and why the choices I make are important to me in the broader scheme of things. Knowing my own values concretely is also helpful in job searching to ensure that I’m interviewing to find a place that aligns with what is important to me as a human being.

How do you go about determining your values? Making a list is a great place to start. If you need some inspiration, Google is great for coming up with keywords that resonate with you. Then work through the list, defining each value in terms of its meaning and why it is important to you. This doesn’t have to be a one and done thing either. Refining this list takes time. Ultimately, the goal is to end up with a set of values that make you say: “Yeah, that’s me and I’m proud of who I am and what I stand for.”

Doing What You Love

Again here, I’m not talking about doing work that you love (although it’s always an awesome bonus to have a job that’s really a career). What I mean when I say find things you love and dive in to them is about building your passions. Invest in the things you love to do. For me, some of those things are quilting, playing the piano, baking, and doing the crossword puzzle.

In the world of quilting, I’m definitely an amateur. I’m inspired by my grandma, an avid quilter, and incredible artists like Bisa Butler. Just this weekend, I started a two-part quilting class to deepen my understanding of the technical side of this art form. I’ve been quilting independently for some time, but had never taken a formal class. What did I dive into today that will increase my capacity not only as an artist but also as a person?

Tricks! – I learned a few sewing-specific secrets for making sure my corners align perfectly and which way to iron down my seams. (This is definitely sewing-based knowledge, but allows me to be confident in my work.) It was elating to know some “insider” secrets to this art.

Slow and Steady – It’s not a race and precision is key. If I make a mistake, no worries. Start over. (That’s what a seam ripper is for!)

Relax! – I’m not always great at this. Cutting and piecing allow me to get into a groove and tune out what’s happening around me.

Quilt squares in colorful batik fabrics.

Ultimately, I left today tired and proud of the work I did with increased confidence in my abilities. What’s better than that?

In truth, really all I’m getting to is: invest some time – in you!