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Investing in oneself is important but what we invest in varies for everyone. For some, it means buying a nice car, a designer handbag, or saving and investing 20 percent of your salary.
For me, investing in myself means investing in a less tangible but higher ROI part of me: the human behind the professional. In other words, things that move the needle forward and help me level up in my life and business and which usually involve my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
I’ve signed up for high-level coaching, enrolled in a mastermind program, attended elite conferences, and done other things that helped me step out of my comfort zone and take life-altering leaps.
Before we dive into how these investments can change your life, let’s talk about why many of us, especially women, struggle with self-investment.
1. Money Mindset
Women still earn less money than men, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, giving us less expendable income and a scarcity mindset. To pay for programs that will help us make more money, we must make enough money to afford them.
In a recent article, I also argued that our perception of money (and there never being enough of it) is often one that’s unconsciously adopted from our parents and our culture. However, it’s up to us to identify these mental barriers and overcome them.
For me, currency (money) is like a current of energy with its own flow and the best way to draw that flow of energy toward you is to be grateful for what you already have while being open to receiving more of it.
In my experience, if you hold on too tightly to the money you have (like someone putting all their money under the mattress), you bottleneck money’s flow. However, if you invest thoughtfully, you can create a ripple effect of returns. Sometimes this abundance is in the form of money and sometimes it’s in the form of confidence, pride, freedom, new opportunities, and growth.
2. Inequitable Roles
Often the nurturers, we women commonly put others’ needs before our own. Many of the mothers in my family were self-sacrificing caregivers who went without to give more to others. While their loving offer is unquantifiable, the way forward is finding a balance between appreciating our contributions without pigeonholing ourselves into one role and limiting opportunities. As a working mother, I learned that if you only make withdrawals from yourself, you will eventually go bankrupt.
3. Permission Seeking
Have you ever wondered why men feel harder to shop for? Often is it because if they have the money for something they want they go buy it themselves. Women? We wait until the time is “right,” until the price drops, until we hear from others’ reviews, and often the moment passes us by. We don’t need permission, validation, or to wait too long; we possess the power to choose for ourselves.
4. Few Role Models
Many of us lack a self-investment model. It’s difficult to say “yes” to something if you aren’t even aware it is a possibility for you as a woman, a Latina, or a person of color. If our only pathway to success is working hard for an eventual reward or climbing our career ladders rung by rung, then changing course or taking a giant leap doesn’t seem possible. When more of us invest in ourselves, we normalize this behavior and inspire others.
Learning to invest in yourself is like strengthening a muscle over time; the more you exercise it, the more confident you are.
Are you ready to level up by investing in yourself?
Here’s where to start:
1. Small Steps
If money is tight, get creative and find ways to level up within your means. Instead of flying to a national conference, attend free networking events, and take it a step further by volunteering. Or make a coffee date with the president of the organization to share feedback.
2. Get Clear about What You Want
What is your biggest goal or your wildest dream? To publish a book? To run for office? To have a wait list full of top-tier clients? Decide what you want and accept that a new level of success usually requires you to do something new or different. Where can you stretch, learn, or ask for help? Find the closest version of the thing you want and start there.
3. Consider the Long-Term ROI
The goal is to spend money strategically. Last year, I invested months in a program that helped me turn off my inner saboteurs (the “nos” and “can’ts” I used as excuses). I came away fully committed to launching my business and paying it forward. If I’d only quantified the ROI of my investments in terms of quick returns, I might not have done this. However, by leveling up my mindset and freeing myself from internal blockers, I’ve seen a massive return in my business. Instead of playing small, I hired a branding coach, re-created my website, and attracted a large consulting account that will pay me back for the program and bring returns for years to come.
4. Invest in Your Network
It’s true, sometimes the ROI of investing in yourself is most evident in the rearview mirror. Only when looking back do you understand how your investments have attracted new opportunities or introduced you to someone who introduced you to someone else who made a difference. When you spend time with others who are also investing in themselves, you rise with them. As you grow and change, it helps to be around like-minded people who support your growth and vision for success.
Whether you are venturing out for the first time or setting a new course, investing in yourself is the fastest way to build a life and career you love.
Diana Maldonado is passionate about helping more women decode the process of running for office—and succeeding when they get there. She is also the president and chief strategist at Maldonado Strategies, where she positions businesses for unrivaled success and lasting impact. Most notably, in this role, Maldonado is known for being an effective relationship builder as she advances business initiatives through her expansive network.
Prior to this role, Maldonado served as the president and CEO of the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GAHCC): a results-oriented leader, she strategically drove membership engagement, supported strategic policies, and led revenue diversification efforts.