Your habits and actions have a profound effect on your overall well-being and happiness. The current situation you are in has been greatly determined by your past actions, habits and decisions. By making small changes and investing in yourself in positive ways today, you will ultimately be creating a brighter future for yourself, and you will be very happy that you did so.
Listed below are some key ways to start investing in yourself and changing your life for the better. Even if you only choose to incorporate a few of these ideas into your life, the positive effect will be huge.
Watch Less TV, and Choose More Positive Shows
Too many people waste their valuable time by watching too much TV, especially programming that has no merit. To make matters worse, these people get hooked and spend a big chunk of their time indulging in it. Most of the stuff on television today teaches us little to nothing about becoming a better person. Fortunately, this is slowly changing and there is an increasing influx of programs that can teach us a lot. Greatly reduce the amount of TV you watch and, when you do watch TV, be discriminate about what is on your screen.
Visit Positive Websites
The amount of time some people waste online on frivolous web sites is shocking. Many people spend hours checking Facebook and updating their status numerous times per day, reading sensational news, watching videos with no merit on YouTube, etc. Imagine how much time these people expend and waste per year, and just imagine all the ways that valuable time could be spent more wisely. I am not suggesting that staying in touch with your friends on Facebook is bad, but do it in moderation.
Read Books or eBooks
Reading is a fantastic way to invest in yourself. It also is a relatively cheap activity and can even oftentimes cost nothing. With the advent of the Kindle, iPad and Nook, it is even easier to find great reading material. Reading regularly has tremendous benefits. It stimulates your imagination, improves your vocabulary, increases your general knowledge, helps you relax, allows you to tap into the minds of great thinkers, assists you in solving problems, and it can be tremendously entertaining. Almost all the great leaders in this world spend time reading.
Stay In Touch with Family and Friends
Your family and friends are valuable and it pays to stay in touch with them and give them your time. It will deepen your relationships with them and show them you care. Invest time and effort in staying in touch with them regularly, whether in person, via telephone, email, or Skype, etc. You will be happy that you did in the long run. Make an effort to reach out to at least one person per day.
Choose Your Friends Wisely
The types of friends you choose to be around have a dramatic effect on your own actions and behaviors. The old adage, “birds of a feather flock together” is especially true when it comes to your friends. If you want to be successful, happy, positive, healthy, more productive, etc, make sure you associate with people who possess those attributes. Conversely, if you currently have friends who do not conform to your goals, politely get rid of them, or, at the very least, greatly reduce the amount of time you spend with them.
Get Rid of Toxic Friends
Having good friends is an important aspect of life. But having friends who are a positive influence is even more important. Be discriminate when choosing your friends and get rid of the ones who are negative, problem-laden, unmotivated, and who do not care about bettering themselves. To a large extent, you are a product of your environment and this includes the company you keep. Find friends that share your values.
Find a Mentor
If you are serious about investing in yourself and your future, find someone to mentor you, especially in a field you want to excel in. You will be surprised by how many experts are willing to share their knowledge and experience with you if you simply ask. In fact, you should seek multiple mentors, each with their own skillset. Finding someone to mentor you will help you avoid unnecessary mistakes that the mentor made in the past, afford you the opportunity to learn new skills and techniques, and it will provide invaluable inspiration.
Learn Something New and Take a Class
You should always be learning a new skill or process. That is what successful people do constantly. They are where they are at because they are always improving themselves. If you do not make it a point to keep learning, you are stagnant and getting left behind in a world that is constantly changing. You could enroll in your local community college, online classes, sign up for a course, attend a talk conducted by an expert, watch TED talks, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Engage in Creative Activities
It is great to engage in creativity in your life because it develops certain areas of your brain. It also teaches you how to think differently while having fun doing something different. Instead of spending time in a bar, sign up for a pottery or art class, redecorate a room in your home, or try your hand at creative writing. It will enrich your life.
Learn a Language
I believe that everyone should learn a second language, if not a third. Mastering another language has tremendous advantages. It affords you insight into a different culture and allows you to enjoy your travels more. It also helps develop your brain in a unique way. Being bilingual makes you more valuable in the workplace and that means you are more hirable. It even has been proven to stall or prevent Alzheimer’s and dementia. And it makes you a more interesting person. Best of all, learning a new language has never been more affordable.
Setting goals is one of the most powerful ways to invest in yourself, yet many people neglect to do so. Setting clear goals is like looking at a map and determining your eventual destination. It is much better than driving around aimlessly and hoping that you will reach a destination you like. It provides you with a clear focus and helps you decide how to spend your time. It makes decision-making much clearer. It also allows you to plan more effectively and attain amazing results.
Plan Your Day and Week
After you set your goals, it is important to plan how you are going to achieve it. Goal-setting is the act of deciding your destination. Planning, on the other hand, is similar to determining how you are going to get there. It is the route you are going to take to your destination. Without planning, it is nearly impossible to achieve your goals because you will waste valuable time and other resources wandering aimlessly. All productive people plan, so invest in yourself by doing the same. The effects are powerful.
Monitoring your progress and measuring results is an essential way to invest in yourself. Think about it: goal-setting is the destination, and planning is equivalent to deciding on the route and how to get to your destination. Measuring results, on the other hand, is making sure you are on the right road, making progress, and deciding if there is a shorter route that you could take because of obstacles. Let’s use an example: you establish a goal of learning to play the piano proficiently. You then plan on buying a piano, taking a class once a week with a local piano teacher and practicing 3 days per week. You also need to measure the results periodically to decide, for example, if the piano teacher you have hired is an effective one, or if you are practicing sufficiently or effectively.
Practicing gratitude reduces aggressive tendencies, promotes better sleep, greatly improves physical and psychological health, helps cultivate better relationships, and makes you happier. Keep a daily gratitude journal or spend a few minutes each day listing 5 things that you are truly grateful for.
Meditate and Practice Mindfulness
Learning to meditate and become mindful has a tremendous effect on your life. Spending as little as 10 minutes per day meditating will have a huge impact. Science has shown that meditation and mindfulness will improve your concentration, reduce stress, increase your levels of happiness, slow aging, raise your self-awareness, make you healthier, promote equanimity, and improve your acceptance of others.
This one is a no-brainer! By exercising regularly you will be investing in a habit that creates a healthy mind and a healthy body. The benefits of exercise include disease prevention, better mood, lower body-fat and weight, increased energy, better sleep, and an improved sex life. There are so many different ways to exercise so find the kinds that you find fun.
Go for Medical Visits
Your health is extremely important and one way to ensure that you stay healthy is by making sure you do not neglect your regular medical check-ups and visits. Whether it is your dentist or doctor, invest the time in your health by going regularly because prevention is much better than seeking a cure.
Drink Less Alcohol
There is nothing wrong with a glass or 2 of wine. There also is nothing wrong with occasionally indulging in a couple of beers or stronger spirits. But many people imbibe too much alcohol too frequently. Not only is it bad for your liver and overall health, it also clouds your judgement, lowers inhibition, and leads to making questionable decisions. And too much alcohol greatly diminishes your ability to be mindful and productive. It also is expensive.
Practice Healthy Activities and Hobbies
One exciting way to invest in yourself is by making the effort to engage in wholesome and healthy activities, both indoors and outdoors. For example, you could kayak, hike, ride your bicycle, bird-watch, go on a picnic, visit a beach, play scrabble, do some gardening and grow your own herbs and vegetables, do yoga, etc. All of these activities will make you healthier, teach you new skills, facilitate camaraderie and make you a more interesting person to be around. The options are endless so find things that you truly enjoy.
By making better food choices and paying attention to your daily nutrition, you will be much healthier in the future. You will look better, feel better, and greatly increase your chances of living longer. Eating healthier can even affect your mood, and that affects every other aspect of your life.
Learn to Cook
Eating is an activity that most people engage in at least 3 times per day over the course of their lifetime. Learning to cook healthy and delicious food is a great skill that you can apply in your life. Not only does it save you a lot of money, it also is fun and can be a bonding activity between your family and friends. It also teaches you patience. You do not have to learn to become an Iron Chef. You can learn to prepare your favorite foods at home and control the types of ingredients you use. Most prepared and restaurant foods are not healthy and include excessive fat and preservatives.
Sleep and Wake Up Earlier
Getting to bed earlier and rising earlier in the morning is a trait that a vast majority of successful people have developed. It allows you to become more productive, enjoy quiet time, eat breakfast (the most important meal of the day), avoid rushing, cut back on your commute time, exercise before you start your day, and have more energy.
This might seem obvious, yet, most people are guilty of procrastination. Time is the most valuable asset we have because, once gone, it cannot be reclaimed. While it may seem nearly impossible to completely avoid procrastinating, reducing its frequency will facilitate amazing results. First of all, identify the most important actions you can take in your life that will lead to positive results. Secondly, reiterate the benefits in your mind and recognize how fulfilled and happy you will be if you complete the tasks at hand. Imagine as realistically as possible the feeling of having accomplished these tasks. No matter how difficult or daunting the task at hand may be, do it anyway. Once you develop the momentum, it will get easier as you go along. When you learn to manage or conquer procrastination, it will become easier and it will develop your character.
Manage Your Time
It is very important to manage your time effectively because time is so valuable. Make an audit of how you generally spend your time each day to see if you are prioritizing correctly. You may be surprised to learn that you spend too much time checking and updating your status on Facebook, looking at your phone, hitting the snooze button on your alarm and lazing in bed, watching frivolous reality TV, daydreaming, sitting in a bar, etc. Create a schedule that forces you to invest your time in the things that are most important.
Develop a Routine
Many people do not have a proper productive daily routine despite the fact that it is very powerful. Some even have unproductive and detrimental routines. Developing a daily routine provides your life with structure. It helps to make good habits automatic and reduces your reliance on willpower. It allows you to accomplish great things with less effort.
Make the time and expend the effort to travel as often as you can, including internationally. Rather than spend money on ‘stuff’, save your money and use it to create travel experiences and memories. You will learn a lot from traveling, especially outside of your comfort zone. You will learn new cultures, expose your palate to different types of food, and be immersed in a different language. It widens your perspective and makes you realize how the whole world is connected. Traveling also offers you a new and different perspective on life.
Save Your Money
It is extremely important to save part of your income diligently. I suggest that you decide what percentage of your income you want to save and set it aside each month or every 2 weeks. Do not touch that money, except in extreme emergencies. Building a nest-egg will cushion you from any unforeseen circumstances, and you will be happy that you did.
Invest Your Money
Once you have accumulated enough savings, it is important to invest part of that in assets that will appreciate. It could be as simple as an interest-bearing savings account or mutual fund. Stocks, real estate, and commodities are also options to consider. Diversify your investments to mitigate the risks. Investments that offer compounding interest really add up quickly if you are in it for the long haul and if you start investing early. For example, if you are 20 years old now and decide to invest $5000 in a one-time investment that earns an 8% annual return, you will have accumulated $160,000 by the time you are 65 (and that is assuming you make no further investments)! There are numerous online investment firms that will do the legwork for you and you can invest as little as $10 per month.
Spend Money on Experiences Rather Than Stuff
A great number of people spend money on material things that only bring temporary satisfaction. Within a short period of time, that satisfaction wears off and then they spend more money in order to accumulate more stuff. Rather than doing that, spend your money on wholesome experiences and memories such as travel, adventure, charity, a self-improvement course, a concert or play, etc. These memories and experiences will last you a lifetime.
Challenge Yourself and Do Things That Are Difficult
Human nature is such that people tend to shy away from doing things that they consider to be difficult or challenging, even if they know those activities are good for them. Make an effort to be aware of your way of thinking, and challenge yourself. It is natural to feel uncomfortable trying something new or taking on a new challenge. But the confidence and rewards you will reap from doing so are extremely worth it. View discomfort as your friend because it means that you are venturing outside of your comfort zone.
Use Visualization to Affect Your Beliefs
One of the best ways to invest in yourself is to change your beliefs and visualize your desired outcomes. Most people identify too closely with their thoughts without realizing that thoughts in themselves have no power unless they lead to action. Many people also have limiting beliefs that greatly influence how they conduct their lives. They believe that they cannot accomplish things or that they are not good enough. Fortunately, these negative beliefs can be changed with practice, and one way of doing this is via visualization or guided imagery. Limiting beliefs have been ingrained in you and, fortunately, they can be eradicated by replacing them with positive beliefs. Practice visualization and positive affirmations daily as often as you can and you will be amazed at the authentic power it will unleash in you.
Holding a grudge and being angry with someone only holds you back in life. Scientific studies have shown that forgiveness actually is better for your health. It frees up energy that can be better used elsewhere. You will be happier and have better relationships. You will also become more empathetic and retain more control over your life.
Stop Trying to Win the Approval of Others
Many people worry too much about seeking the approval of others. They spend countless hours being concerned about what others think about them, to the point of being neurotic about it. While it is important to be sensitive about the feelings of others, you should not waste your time and energy trying to please everyone because you never will. Of course, apologize readily to others when you know you have done wrong, but also be confident in your abilities and character.
Take Pride in Your Appearance
Pay attention to your appearance and grooming. You should this for yourself and less so for the benefit of others, although it certainly will help you in social situations. Taking the time to dress well and groom yourself will make you happier and demonstrate discipline and organization. Realize that I am not talking about buying designer clothes. Rather, make an effort to iron and match your clothes, shave, comb your hair, practice proper hygiene, and refrain from slouching or biting your fingernails. You will feel better about yourself.
This is one of the key elements of investing in yourself. Make an effort to love yourself unconditionally by using daily affirmation, self-reflection, and paying close attention to your thoughts and beliefs. A person who loves himself or herself is more likely to invest in themselves and make better decisions. Start listing what you like about yourself daily and stop trying to win the approval of others. Distance yourself from negative people and forgive yourself for your past mistakes. Practice gratitude for all that you have. You are worth it!