Investing in You

Money Chase

When I quit my job to focus on … well, anything other than that job, I was hyper-aware that my savings would go quickly and that I had to be careful not to be frivolous. Naturally, I didn’t think I’d be away from steady work for this long, but it seemed like a good thing to keep in mind even if I only planned to be out a year or two. I’m starting to re-think.

Don’t get me wrong, you need to pay your bills and shopping sprees involving Jimmy Choos are probably not going to help you pay rent (but if you figure out a way, please let me know). But I got pretty extreme in the “putting myself dead last” department. Oddly enough, rather than making me feel secure and more creative, it had a hand in blocking the creativity.

Why?

It actually made me less secure mentally about my financial state. That insecurity meant that my primary focus was becoming money which actually made me feel less good about myself. It also made me risk averse – which I know sounds crazy since I had quit my job (possibly the riskiest thing ever). None of those responses boosted my creativity levels – the one thing I needed to write.

I bet I’m not alone in this reaction. I’m guessing that some of you have done the same sort of things – you stopped taking care of you for what seemed like really good reasons.

I know that it sounds silly to say that getting your hair done is good for your creativity and overall state-of-mind, but it is. Getting a massage can be good for both your physical and mental well-being. Taking an unusual movement class (maybe Tango this month!) can do wonders. Maybe your one special thing is getting a piece of really decadent cake because you deprive yourself of anything that doesn’t seem necessary.

But how do you pay for it?

I’m not saying it is easy. You do still have to make rent. You do still have other bills to pay. Mostly, it takes planning. Some months you will only have an extra $2. Some months you may have an extra $10. Put a portion of that remaining money (yes, even if it is only $0.50) and put it away in an envelope marked “you.” In most cases, this is money you will not miss, but at the end of 6 months or so (depending on how much is going in there), you’ll have a chance to re-assure yourself that you are still taking care of you. You are re-affirming that you still matter while you are going through whatever transition is happening.

Investing in you staves off a lot of negatives: resentment, melancholy, those special feelings of hopelessness and pointlessness. The odds of you doing anything creative while those things are swirling around you are slim. It’s worth a moment at least to consider it.

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