Why I think investing in yourself and the people you value is so hard

 

The last time I checked my purse before I got back to the UK, I had five different currencies in there: pesos, dollars (two types), euros and sterling.

Mostly, it was all in fiddly change – the type no-one’s going to swap but is ideal for the ‘change pot’.

The ‘change pot’ is a funny little phenomenon that occurs the world over. Often, it’s a scrubby dish that accumulates pennies and five-pence pieces until someone goes to the bank. Which is, of course, in our new world of cashlessness, very rare.

But in some households the ‘change pot’ is something much more glorious. It could be a paint tin with a slot cut in the lid or a 1970s-style glass demi-john.

Whatever their shape, this is what they have in common: they take saving seriously.

There’s no tinkly coppers in these pots. These are £1, $1, £2, $5 pots only. They are serious about building up that loose change so when it’s finally emptied, the result is a three course meal not a bag of corner shop sweets.

Guess what? These change pots are you.

I said last time that the experiences we choose today inform our future. It’s the same with saving, which is an investment you make today for your future.

And it’s the same with you and the people you work with.

What is the investment you are making in yourself and others today to influence your future?

The investments of today are things like:

  • Making sure you sit correctly at your desk when working
  • Dedicating time, even when you’re busy, to meditation or mindfulness
  • Taking actual lunch breaks despite having a crazy work load
  • Working through a cognitively-challenging chapter of a book
  • Having that frustrating conversation with your colleague
  • Therapy

And here’s why this investment in yourself and people you value is so hard. None of that stuff, in the moment, is fun. Just like dropping a decent £1 into a tin isn’t fun.

“I could use that £1,” you think. “I could use it today. I want an ice cream!”

Correct. You could use it today. And some days you should absolutely use it to buy an ice cream.

But the experiences you choose today inform your future. Even experiences you choose which, in the moment, feel difficult.

We do difficult things now to make our future easier. 

Now, I go to therapy, and it hurts. But in the future, there’ll be ease and even joy in how I respond to emotional challenges.

Now, I have a frustrating conversation with a colleague, and it hurts. But in the future, there’ll be ease and joy in our relationship.

It’s okay to do things today which feel difficult, if they’re going to give you a better future.

I’m writing this on a plane, my immediate future spooling away from a place and person I love.

Right now, that leaving feels frustrating. But I’m doing it because going back, taking steps, and working in a new way is how I’m going to add ease and joy into my future.

In a culture where the importance of self-care is becoming more visible, it’s pleasurable to believe in messaging that we should only ever do what feels good and intuitive in that moment.

It feels intuitive to do things like avoid difficult conversations, eat ice cream because you fancy it, relax into a slouch. These can be self-care. They are self-care for the inner child that’s a bit petulant, frightened and greedy.

But acts of self-care are sometimes the hard choice. The feel-difficult, against-our-inner-child choice, which satisfies a ‘better self’.

I like to think of the better self as the one who is the good and loving guardian of that inner child. Yes to ice cream, yes to hiding, yes to slouching … but not always. Not today.

The better self is the one slotting £1, £2 coins into a big jar because they want ease and joy in their future, and they are prepared to make that hard choice today to secure that.

That hard choice is an investment, and that’s why it’s difficult. It takes time and energy and recognising that, actually, you do value yourself and the people around you.

It’s saying to ourself, our friends, our colleagues, our team:

“I value you. I value your future. I believe you are worth investing in. I believe we all have a life worth investing in.”

So be the big jar. Make the investment. Show that you value yourself and others. Because you are all absolutely worth it.

 


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