This past week, during a particularly stressful day, I did what I always do when I want to complain to someone I know will listen: I called my dad. I’m lucky that our relationship is such that I can vent about work or daily living in New York City, and he’ll listen attentively and offer fatherly pearls of wisdom or tales of his time in his 20s and how he figured it all out, without (too much) judgement.
This time, after the usual 10 minutes of me explaining I had no idea what was going on in my life, he didn’t tell me to buck up and get back to it. Instead, he asked me how I’m investing in myself out of work. What was I doing in my off time that was just for me, that would let me focus on things I enjoy and hone skills I don’t have yet?
It’s a good question. Earlier in the year, I participated in a writing workshop with a bunch of other women from varied disciplines, hosted by a writer I’d long admired. It cost a few hundred dollars, which made me nervous at first, but once the day was over, I knew it had been well worth the cost.
Just as important as setting New Year's resolutions is figuring out how we reach them, and not getting so bogged down in work that we forget to take care of ourselves. On the podcast Call Your Girlfriend, hosted by the journalist Ann Friedman and Aminatou Sow, co-founder of Tech Lady Mafia, human rights technologist Sabrina Hersi Issa advises scheduling a Personal Inventory Day each month as a way to regularly take stock of where your time is going.
I haven’t done anything like that in a while, mainly because I tell myself the money could be better spent elsewhere. But my dad reminded me that now is the best time to invest in myself, in the things I simply like.
I’m young, single, and renting in New York City, meaning I have as few “real” responsibilities (besides a job and bills) as I’ll ever have and access to workshops and classes in pretty much any field at a semi-reasonable cost. Why not earmark $1000 or so a year to learn about a few more things that interest me?
Of course, investing in yourself isn’t reserved for the 20-somethings living in urban areas. Everyone can benefit from prioritising themselves and learning something new once or twice a year if they have the means to do so.
For me, that means looking for another writing workshop and a beginner’s design course (and reconnecting with the impressive women I met at the beginning of the year). For you that could mean taking a coding class, learning how to play the piano, or hiring a trainer.
If you aren’t feeling inspired, maybe you just need to call up the person who will give you a little push in that direction — dad, sister, best friend, whoever.
So, you have five months left in 2018. How will you invest in yourself?