“Investing” sounds like a big word, which is probably why I’ve avoided it for as long as I could. The idea of investing in myself felt ridiculous. And, of course, a waste of time and money and effort… so why do it?
As a freelancer, it’s easier to keep hustling and forget that we’re just human. We have needs and we deserve things like rest and vacation and good coffee. I’ve learned the hard way that as a creative, investing in myself is vital for my business. It's good for me, yes; but it’s also good for my business. And that’s one thing I wish I learned sooner.
See, when I became a freelancer, I had this delusion that all I’d do is sit in front of my laptop and money will start pouring in. Now, I always tell people, “if this is easy, everybody would be doing it. And everybody would be succeeding at it!”
Fact is, when you’re a freelancer, there’s a really high chance you’re a creative person. You don’t like be bossed around and get told what to do and when to do it. You want to be in charge of your schedule and workload. That’s not a bad thing! But this is when the importance of investing in yourself comes into the picture.
Because you cannot keep your creative genius happy and productive if you’re hustling and working all the time. You need to rest. Your creative genius need to rest. Life is not about working all the time. Avoiding entrepreneurial burnout starts when you invest in yourself.
But where do you start? How does investing in one’s self actually look like?
Well, that depends on you. It took a lot of trial and error for me but I’m starting to see some really worthy ways of spending time and money for myself. Ways that ultimately, help me become a better freelancer and better boss to myself.
I am a lazy reader so it takes a lot of effort to buy books. I always feel like it’s a waste of money because I won’t end up reading it. But buying a book about something I am deeply interested in is a different story. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Wander Society by Keri Smith. These two books don’t have anything to do with building a business or freelancing, but they interest me. And time spent on something I’m interested in is time spent well.
This one I’m still working on… I wish I can tell you I always have a monthly budget for my pilates class but I don’t. I still find myself skipping it. But I’ve observed that I become a slightly better person with improved focus on the same months I do pilates. I don’t get irritated easily, I don’t dread juggling writing and admin stuff… I don’t even hate the commute to local coffee shops! And I typically hate commute! Whatever that self-care routine is, include it in your budget. It’s for you—you deserve it. No questions asked.
Investing doesn’t always have to equate money or spending. It can be as easy as allowing yourself to go out with the right people. Have coffee with a mentor you look up to or go on a date with your girl friends whom you haven’t seen in ages. Don’t settle with chatting on social media—chat in real life. In person.
There is something about being in the company of amazing and inspiring people that just encourages me to be a better version of myself. To be kinder and more gentle with myself. We all fail and sometimes, things happen at a slower pace. The more I connect with the right people, the more I’m inspired and in awe of life and communities.
I am big on curiosity and this is something I always live by. That space to be curious—whether that’s a few minutes each day or a monthly routine—to me, that’s magic. That’s where great things happen.
To give yourself space to be curious is to allow yourself to explore. Try new things. Wander and see if you can find the answers to your “what if’s.” Curiosity is powerful and it’s a great tool to keep us, creative folks, feel alive and inspired. So don’t shut those weird ideas down. Don’t tell yourself it’s too stupid or that you don’t have time for it. Always have time and space for curiosity. You’ll thank me later.
Or a dog. Or a turtle. Get a pet. Allow yourself to spend time with that pet and not just in front of your laptop, TV, and phone. Pets are also responsibilities, I know. So go simple if you need to. Some types of fish don’t need lots of tending… go get those. I don’t really know why and how but my cat changed my world. I don’t think too much about work or the bills or worry about whether or not I’ve sent all the invoices I need to send. I just enjoy the view that is a four-legged furball playing by the window. And oftentimes, this is also the time when fun business ideas pop up. So I don’t know if it’s the cat or what… but yes to cats.
Just like anything, the key to becoming a better person towards yourself is by investing in yourself. A photographer upgrades his gear from time to time. A restaurant expands and opens a new branch. You cannot stay stagnant. Growth doesn’t happen there.