Being a baby boomer, many of my friends have retired and are traveling and enjoying life. While I’m not ready to retire, I think about how much we have invested in living versus financial investments. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a 403(b), 401(k), or 457 yet, to ensure longevity and long-term quality of life, it is also is important to have an ROI in life.
One of the ways to invest in You is reading. I have to take a hiatus from buying books every now and then. Books open up a whole new world. Books give us insights and perspectives that we may not find elsewhere. I’ve met some interesting characters in books. I’ve also been able to see myself in some stories. Books can take you to places you would never travel to and introduce you to concepts that you might not have thought about. Books are indeed an adventure into and investment in life.
As we age, our bodies and mind slow down and talk back to us. While I walk every morning and some evenings, I wish I have invested more in exercise, yoga, and meditation. Walking can be meditative but, I haven’t exercised nearly enough to ensure endurance; it is evident when I walk several flights of stairs and get out of breath much too quickly. Most organizations offer wellness programs and that is an excellent way to stay motivated to invest in your physical and mental state.
Lifelong learning is more than a cliché. I haven’t taken a class since graduate school. It’s not even about finding the time since they offer a wide variety of classes at work. It is more about identifying the skills that I need to develop to be more effective or a passion I want to explore. Lifelong learning keeps you stimulated, inspired and challenged. On my bucket list, I have a cooking class in Paris, a cake decorating class, dance classes, art workshops and computer skills. Taking these classes will keep my mind functioning much like a computer; a computer is no good unless you use it. Invest in your life by increasing your skills, enhancing your passion, or exploring new territory.
I have found that networking and mentorship are two keys to success, especially for women in the world of work. While I have served as a mentor in my organization, recently I decided that I needed to also have one, internal and external to the organization. A mentor can provide you with feedback and insight that you can’t get from a friend. A mentor sees you differently than those that love you for who you are. An honest mentor can help you hone your skills and be more effective, professionally and personally. Like mentoring, networking is critical to getting ahead and making the appropriate connections for you to move throughout work and life. Whether you network for professional reasons or for personal reasons, networking and mentorship can make you stretch into the person you want to become. Many of us get comfortable in the work environment but, if we want to get ahead, we need objective feedback to grow and develop.
An investment in travel pays off immediate dividends. Travel has served me well. You can learn so much about people, customs, and culture that takes you out of your comfort zone and opens you up to new ideas and vistas. Travel within the U.S. and to other countries has challenged me to learn how to more effective in dealing with people who are different from me and, in turn, I have learned to be more patient and tolerant in the workplace. Travel is the one place where you find out just how much you really don’t know about the world and work.
Investing in oneself can take many forms. While I love to shop, there are only so many pieces of clothing that I need. Online shopping has become the norm but, it is much too easy and addictive. A trip to my favorite restaurant is one of my treasures but, I am learning that cooking a new recipe challenges the mind to work with new data and is rewarding. So, I have cut back on eating out and a trip to my favorite restaurant has become a reward for a job well done at work. There are some things that are a status symbol but, in the long term have little or no return on investment. As you age and mature, investing in oneself becomes a priority. Material things will waste away but, an investment in oneself lives on in the future. What’s your investment gift to yourself?
Gerry Tucker is an author and freelance writer. Her previous work includes Beside Chat, a book of meditation and inspiration, and articles in the Austin-American Statesman newspaper. She is also a coach, speaker and workshop presenter.