As any big kid knows, there are good and less good investments to make in your life. A hundred bucks goes further in a 401k than a bar tab, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have fun ever again. Knowing which investments to make is a part of that thing they call “adulting,” but here are 5 things that you’ll never regret investing in - because your future self will thank you for them.
Invest in your fitness
It’s no secret that we’re all in very different places in our fitness journeys. There’s no point in comparing yourself to the colleague who’s training for a triathalon - unless plunging into freezing water after a 40-kilometer bike ride sounds like your idea of fun.
You might be in the Couch to 5K zone, the mountain-scaling zone, or just the nature walk zone.
All are fine, as long as you’re making a conscious effort to nurture your body. It’s the only one you’ll ever have, and it’ll be with you as long as you live. That’s what it’s really about. Looking good is only the cherry on the sundae.
Personally, I like to splurge on ClassPass because it allows me to shake up my workout routine and keep from getting bored. The pricing has gotten increasingly steep, but I like to think of it as my anti-heart attack, be-fabulous-like-Betty-White-someday solution. You can achieve similar results for much less with a good pair of running shoes and some sweet tunes. It’s all up to what works for you. Also, wear sunscreen.
If you’re ever gone running at a track only to be bypassed repeatedly by a man Clint Eastwood’s age, you know how badass fitness can be at any age. If senior citizens can do it, so can you. Which lead me to my next point…
Invest in the food you eat
They say abs are made in the kitchen. We live in a time where you can hit a few buttons on your smartphone and have a box of steaming hot grease delivered to your door in under an hour. But why not put all that Pinterest browsing to use instead and perfect a few staple recipes that will thicken up your wallet instead of your bod?
A lot of your restaurant favorites can be recreated in your own kitchen with healthy swaps like olive oil instead of butter, nuts instead of bread crumbs and quinoa instead of white rice. Personalize your recipes to fit your lifestyle. Oh, and here’s a little secret: cooking is fun!
Invest in saving your time
Just like you delegate some tasks at work to your teammates, it’s worth exploring the cost of delegating life tasks you don’t enjoy to someone else.
Freeing up checklist items like laundry, cleaning and assembling all the IKEA furniture you binge-bought doesn’t just allow you to avoid the things you don’t love doing, it can actually allow you to use that time more wisely. If you start a side business and charge $100/hour for consulting, but spend $50/hour to outsource your errands, you’ve clearly made a wise investment.
Outsourcing is easier than ever thanks to the “gig economy” offered by companies like Lyft and Freelancer. Sites like TaskRabbit can help you select a service in a matter of minutes, or you could consider getting a virtual assistant.
Invest in your personal growth
We all have forgotten bucket list items and neglected New Year’s resolutions that we magically remember the last week of December. Make a conscious effort to pursue your hobbies - not by overloading yourself and signing up for a pottery, cooking and tap dancing class all at once - but regularly.
This will help you grow as a person, try new things, and decide what you want to keep on your schedule. It’ll make you well-rounded and undoubtedly interesting. It’s also a great way to make new friends and expand your network.
MOOCs, or Massive Online Open Courses, offer free and readily available classes from universities like Stanford and Duke, so consider taking advantage with platforms like Coursera.
Committing to a book goal is also a fantastic way to expand your mind a little bit - 5 books a year is doable, right? Read a bestseller, a recommendation from a friend, a book related to your career field, an autobiography of someone you admire, and a revisited classic. Or, you know, read what you want.
Invest in your personal branding
A few years into my career, I realized that I’d failed myself without even being aware of it over the past few years. Yes, I would show up and do the work, but I hadn’t bothered to measure and track the results in a way that highlighted my personal abilities.
Whether you’re a recruiter who’s exceeded expectations in the number of successful hires she’s made or a content marketer who’s achieved virality on multiple occasions, it’s important to start building up a personal bragbook of stats to show future employers, potential clients and the world.
Holding the same job for multiple decades becoming the exception, not the norm like it once was. There’s a chance you may want to start a side hustle or business of your own at some point, so it’s always best to prepare for that day sooner than later. Work hard at your job, but make sure you track your individual successes too.
In terms of what investment your personal branding requires besides the time spent building up personal case studies and a portfolio, it’s also worth putting down a few bucks to procure a domain name and a website. Think of it as a down payment on the next stage of your career. Even if you only get two hits per month and they’re both from your mother, you’re awesome and the world should know about it. Business cards are also worth the cost.
Bottom line: if it feeds your mind, body or soul, it’s worth investing in. Determine what will help you grow and equip yourself with the tools to get growin’.
Michelle is a Silicon Valley native and social media consultant. She's a fan of pizza, candles that smell like tropical fruit, good books, and impulse buys on international plane tickets. Her diverse knowledge of marketing, social media, blogging, copywriting and community management is the result of an in-house tenure at multiple companies, during which time she managed social media and community relations for tech, retail, fashion and lifestyle brands as well as non-profit organizations.
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