May 7, 2020

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Quick question: how much do you value the things you got for free or cheap? Whether it’s clothes from Goodwill, a cheap pair of sunglasses, or even a steeply discounted online course (or course bundle—those are all the rage right now)… How do you treat it? Do you take the time to go through the course? Make sure you don’t get any stains on your clothes? Take the time to put your sunglasses back in their case and never sit on or lose them? I’m willing to bet you don’t. So why is it any different when it comes to the money you invest in yourself?

What it Means to Invest in Yourself

Your brain is your most powerful tool. It gets smarter and better when we feed it new ideas, challenge it with interesting problems, learn new things, and take risks with both our time and our money to make it better.

The Pew Research Center reports that 27% of adults in the US didn’t read a book (in whole or in part) during 2018. Over a quarter of Americans didn’t “feed their minds” with the magic of a book.

When I say “invest in yourself” I mean read the books that look interesting. Ramit Sethi says that if you see a book you think you want to buy, buy it. Don’t worry about how much it costs (sometimes easier said than done) because those books are an investment in yourself. I’ve really taken this to heart in the last year and have read so many amazing books that have changed me bit by bit.

It also means investing your time and your money into services that teach you how to think, and think “better.” I invested a year and a half of my commute time into bingeing the Life Coach School Podcast before I invested $297 a month into their coaching program, Self Coaching Scholars. You can read more about SCS in this post.

One of the ultimate ways to invest in yourself is by hiring a coach. When you’re in anxiety, scarcity, burnout, angst, overwhelm, fear, and other “negative” emotions, and can’t figure them out on your own, a coach is there every week for you to unload and get help working through it all.

Why Paying Matters

Let’s go back to the Goodwill clothes and the cheap sunglasses for a moment.

Think about this: the more you pay for something, the more you value it.

If you pay $3 for a Goodwill dress, how well will you take care of it? Will you make sure you don’t wrinkle it, keep it unstained, hang it in a plastic cover, and immediately fix any loose threads (or never let it get loose threads to begin with)? Or will you just donate it back once it gets a stain, or a tiny hole opens up under the arm?

If you buy a $5 pair of sunglasses, how long will it take you to lose them or sit on them or scratch the lenses?

If I bought my clothes at a high-end store like White House Black Market, I’d never throw them all in the same load of laundry. I’d never let them wrinkle. I would make sure I never get a stain on any one of them, and if they need dry cleaning, I’d take them every week.

If I bought a $300 pair of sunglasses, they’d never get a scratch on them. I’d never lose them, never drop them, and absolutely never sit on them.

You take care of the things you spend a lot of money on.

When you spend a lot of money on yourself, you’re invested in the results you want to get at the end. Think about someone who pays their own way through college. They show up for the class, put in the work to get the A, and do anything and everything in their power to get the most out of the money they put into it. They value what they’re paying for.

“Interested” is NOT “Invested”

Being “interested” in something sounds nice, but what does it really mean when you’re interested? It seems cool, maybe you’ll try it out, but if it doesn’t work you’ll move on to something else. I’m interested in a lot of things, but I’m not invested in them.

I’m interested in learning Spanish and Hebrew, but I’m not invested in learning them. I didn’t buy an expensive Rosetta Stone package or move to Spain or Israel to learn by immersion. If I was invested in learning those languages, I’d put my money on it and exchange the value of my money for the value of the things I’m learning.

I’m invested in improving my communication and public speaking skills. How do I know? Because I pay money to be in Toastmasters. I show up every week for our meetings, I sign up for roles, and I give speeches. I invested over 50 hours of practice and rehearsal for a presentation I gave at two different company conferences. If I was just “interested” in improving those skills, I’d attend a meeting as a guest but not participate. I’d watch from the sidelines. I wouldn’t put my money on it, I wouldn’t invest my time and energy practicing, and I certainly wouldn’t offer to present in the first place to my company.

Don’t Get Confused

When you get confused about something you’re interested in, what do you do? Do you give up, move on, remain undecided? Or do you figure it out, push past the confusion, and keep moving forward? Probably not. You’d do those things if you were invested, but not when you’re just interested.

How many times have you set New Year’s Resolutions and never followed through?

Interest, not investment.

How many times have you said you were going to lose the weight, but gave up as soon as it got hard?

Interest, not investment.

And how many times have you said “this time it will be different” only to succumb to the confusion, overwhelm, and burnout and do the same thing once again?

Interest, not investment.


Why Do You Buy Things?

This is an interesting question because it shows us what we truly value. Take a look around your house. All the things you have, you most likely bought. Why did you buy those things? What made you decide to hand over money for them? Why did you invest in those things?

I have a Microsoft Surface Tablet. I invested in the tablet because I wanted to stop lugging my heavy laptop with me on business trips when I already carried my work laptop.

Why did you buy the phone you bought? If it’s a high-end Apple or Google phone, it was probably close to $1000. I paid $1000 for my phone because I wanted a quality phone that would last longer than two years. Its camera is way better than my husband’s phone (which only cost $250). I invested that money in my phone because of the value it provides.

I’m working from home right now, since it’s the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. I invested in two curved monitors, a docking station, and a high quality webcam instead of just sticking with my tiny 13″ work laptop screen. I value the extra real estate on the screens, the ability to see windows side-by-side, and show up to video calls with a high definition image. All these things matter to me, and so I invested the money to buy them.

Why do you buy the things you buy? I’m willing to bet it’s because of the value you think they bring.

Valuable Things are Not Free

When something has value, it’s never free. This is why we’re always skeptical of free things. If someone lists a car for free, you ask “what’s wrong with it?” If someone offers you a really low-priced service or product, you think “what’s the catch?”

You can bet that if someone developed a cure for type 1 diabetes, I would pay thousands of dollars for it. Why? Because it’s valuable. It would never be free. As a community, type 1 diabetics complain about the high price of insulin, but the truth is that it’s valuable. We will always have to pay something for it, even if it’s just $25 a vial like it was back in 1996.

Why do we buy books? They’re valuable. Why are textbooks so expensive? They’re valuable. Why does Russel Brunson charge $25,000 for his Inner Circle program? BECAUSE IT’S VALUABLE. He’s actually invited friends and family to sit in on it for free, and none of them ever built successful businesses, because they didn’t put their money down. Every single one of the Inner Circle members who paid $25,000 have done the work to make that investment back.

Remember, valuable things are not free. As much as we’d like to get expensive things for cheap or free, the reality is that we value them so much more and get so much more OUT of them when we pay what they’re worth.

Ways to Invest in Yourself

Hopefully by this point you’re all-in with investing in yourself, and want to know how to do that effectively. You can buy and read books, take notes, and apply those lessons to your life. You can purchase high-ticket online courses and do the work involved that makes it valuable to you. Like me, you can join Self Coaching Scholars and get incredible value for a no-brainer price.

But think about all the goals you’ve given up on. All the things you want to do in your life but procrastinate on because you didn’t invest in them. Do they still mean something to you?

If you could change your life one week at a time for three months, six months, or a year… What kind of person would you be at the end? If you invested in yourself, did the work, and had the support and accountability along the way to actually get shit done, what would your life look like at the end?

If that resonates, sign up for a consultation on accountability coaching. You are your first priority… So invest in yourself first.

About the author 


Life & mindset coach, writer, host of podcast This is Type 1: Real Life with Type 1 Diabetes, and full-time analyst in the power industry. I'm passionate about showing people that how we think determines our realities.

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