Over the past 6 months, I’ve noticed something striking about people I admire who are doing their work well. These people weren’t all that much different from me, except for one thing: They were investing in themselves.
These people were purposefully spending money on things I wasn’t, things like classes and conferences and coaching, so that they could get better at whatever it is they do.
I practice to get better, and so do they. But I’ve almost always stopped short when it comes down to laying out actual cash.
This spring, I’ve loosened up the pursestrings a little. I’ve focused on investing in myself, with time and money. For this frugal girl, that’s required quite the paradigm shift.
But I want to get better, and so I’m making myself do it. It’s not been easy.
This spring, I decided to err on the side of saying yes when it came to events. I attended a conference. I met up with some blog friends in Cincinnati. I just got back from a writing weekend in Austin.
I decided to pay for help: I signed up for a photography class. I hired a smart and creative someone to help me think through a project, and another smart and creative someone to design something eye-catching for it.
I decided to bring on help at home, which has made my day-to-day life run much more smoothly–and has allowed me to get much more work done.
I haven’t actually spent that much money, but I’ve had to change the way I think. I’m still working on convincing myself that spending money on my own development is a worthwhile investment.
I want to keep improving in my work, but that’s not going to happen without putting effort into it. I need to be smart about how I approach it. I need to carve out space for deliberate practice. I need to solicit feedback from the right people, and then figure out what to do with that feedback.
Sometimes, the most efficient way to get better is to pay for the insight I’m missing, the skills I’m lacking, or the help I need. I resisted spending money on a photography course for a long time, but then I learned more in two hours than I’ve learned in two years on my own. That’s a worthwhile investment.
Investing in myself feels kind of weird, but I suspect it will be worth it in the long run. And in the meantime, it sure has been fun.
What have you done in the past to help yourself get better at whatever it is you do? What would you like to do in the future? Share your thoughts to comments–we could all use the food for thought!
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I just finished Laura Vanderkam’s new ebook What the Most Successful People Do at Work, which reassured me I was on the right path. You don’t need to work a traditional office job to get a lot out of this short ebook. Her chapters on Practice and Pay In alone are more than worth the cover price. If you want to invest in yourself, I highly recommend her $3 ebook–you’ll get a great return on your investment.