Investing In Yourself – When you think about your time as an investment, do you treat it differently? I did. When I became a single parent, it shifted my thinking on a lot of things, and the value of time was one them.
I questioned whether or not I spent many years of my life wisely, investing in things that, I now know, wouldn’t last. I wrestled with how the outside world viewed me; without flashy labels or important titles to add to my name. Did I spend enough time investing in myself? Those are the kind of validations that society gives with a nod of approval for investing in your career. I hadn’t really done that.
I didn’t have a degree, or much of a resume to fall back on, so the question I asked myself repeatedly was:
“Did I invest my time wisely?”
My own personal story leaves me with a clear answer of yes, but now, the value of my time is something I am acutely aware of on a day to day basis. There are only so many ways to make change for a dollar after all, so is every penny of my time being used properly?
Every day you stumble along deciding, consciously and unconsciously, where you place your deposits. Work, household responsibilities, parenting responsibilities, emailing, networking, working out (with a seemingly fruitless outcome); the list goes on. I don’t have a second pair of (adult) hands to share the chores and responsibilities with anymore, and most days I honestly don’t mind. Often dishes are in the sink and there is always laundry that needs to be folded and put away. My desk is a clutter of notes and books marked with highlights and post-its, but when faced with the choice of using my time with things that fill me back up in this world or keeping up with the chore list, my passions win out more than not. Maybe I’m doing it wrong, but at least my blood pressure says I’m on the right track.
What are the things that fill me up again when the world has emptied me out? What are the things that renew and energize me as well as a long restful night of sleep? My daughter. Writing. Encouraging others. Nature. Prayer and Meditation. Nurturing my senses. Reading. Space. I need these things in my life like I need air to breathe.
Years ago, when I lived in Hawaii and would travel back and forth to visit family, I would always scoff at the “get your own oxygen mask first” rule on the plane. “If there was someone sitting next to me that was in trouble,” I would say to myself, “I would absolutely get them set first! I could wait a few seconds!” I didn’t get it. At all. In fact, I didn’t really understand it until the last year or so. (Isn’t it amazing that the lessons that you need to learn will arrive at your door as the most unwelcome guest that refuses to leave until you listen?) This particular lesson was a pushy and persistent one. It was like God finally gave up trying to gently teach me the lesson and just shouted the answer to me.
“You can’t help anyone else if you don’t have air to breathe, Kell!”
Right. I guess that makes sense if you put it that way.
But here’s the thing; sometimes I feel like I’m drowning in the realities of day to day life. If we’re being honest with one another, don’t we all face that feeling like we need to tackle a laundry list of Herculean tasks without any idea how we’re going to do it? My struggles are like grains of sand compared to the boulders that others have to deal with, but those tiny grains of sand can start adding up. I’m sure that at one point or another, you can relate to the feeling of sinking in quicksand, about to run out of air. With the pressure increasing and the air supply decreasing, I finally arrive back to the point of asking if I had invested time to fill myself back up again.
Oh. The quicksand up to my nostrils reminds me, once again,“You can’t help anyone else if you don’t have air to breathe.”
Breathe. A deep, full breath. No, things are not perfect, and they never will be, but you are still breathing, and there is still oxygen hugging you and filling your lungs.
My internal air supply comes from my passions that fill me back up again. When I have not invested my time wisely, it starts to become harder and harder to breathe. The good news is, It doesn’t take much, just a small investment of a few pennies of time. Sitting outside listening to the birds chirp, or closing my eyes with my face turned to the sun. Putting my headphones on and listening to music that moves me, or a story that intrigues me. A few seconds of watching Earth from the live video feed of the International Space Station. Hopping in the car and going for a spontaneous outing or car ride with my daughter. Each one, just a bit of loose change at a time. That’s all I really need to find myself filled once again.
The first few pennies spent, felt like an indulgence that I hadn’t quite earned as the dirty dishes glared back at me. But that feeling passed with more ease as I began to refill my oxygen supply with more regularity. I’m worth much more than pennies, after all, and in case you need reminding, so are you.