Why is Self Investment so Hard?
Posted on 8th January 2021 at 20:20
I know many women who struggle to invest in themselves, and I'm interested to know why. I am fortunate to live in a nice village where many of the women have carved out successful careers or meaningful roles in their community. We may not be the 'Real Housewives of Jersey', but most women have disposable income. Why then, do those same women find it so hard to invest in themselves, their growth and self improvement?
I believe that self-investment is critical at any age. If we are to have good well-being, grow, develop, and feel stimulated by the world - it takes time, and sometimes resources, to achieve that. So why is it that we are not prepared to make the commitment to ourselves? Going back to women I know, they have no issue in spending money on their kids, homes, cars and dogs (especially since lock down!) Children are given copius opportunities to attend every club going from ballet, athletics, Brownies, musical theatre - you name it, but most women cannot find time to exercise or justify spending money on themselves. What would happen if you took some of the resource you spend on your kids' extra curricula activties and used it for yourself? I am imagining an audible gasp. How could I suggest such a thing? I tell you how. We live in a society where, if we are lucky, we lavish our children with every opportnity imaginable. We daren't deny our kids anything. How could we? Yet, we deny ourselves a great deal.
I remember a couple of years ago, I would take my daughters swimming. I would sit on the side of the pool and often chat to other parents (usually mums). One day, this particular mum (let's call her Clare - not her real name), shared with me her kids' Saturday itinerary. I was stunned and exhausted at the end of it. Firstly, the kids did golf, followed by karate and then swimming. In the brief hiatus in proceedings, in between karate and swimming, the kids had a snack and also caught up on their school reading. By the end of this recount, I felt like I had been through a wind tunnel. If I felt like that, how did the kids feel? I know kids like to be stimulated but to this extent? I remember being a kid in the late seventies, early eighties and being very bored for long periods of time. I was not so fortunate and came from a loving working class family. Mum ensured that I went to dance class but that was about it. I wasn't offered a weekly agenda of events to help build my neural pathways and stretch my horizons. I was a little girl from Hull who had to create my own amsusement most of the time. The highlight of my week was playing with my Sindy doll, post offices or creating pretend food out of Plastacine (not Playdough). I remember as clear as day, making pretend fish, chips and peas and having an imaginery fish shop. Well I am from Hull! I remember having fun. My parents worked hard to pay for the essentials of life. That was about it.
Going back to Clare, I understand her desire to develop her kids and help them be at their best. I have the same goal for my girls. What I did not understand was how little she was investing in herself. She was exhausted, trying to raise three kids under 10, giving them everything but not saving anything for herself. She looked shattered, wasn't eating well and did not take time to exercise or invest in her own well-being. She was at the bottom of the pile and was not even thinking about herself. It was easier to give the kids 100%.
This isn't about kids
The story I share above is about children, but it isn't always the case. We can sometimes avoid investing in ourselves because of other reasons. Work is another one. I am somebody who can easily over work. I am convinced that my children have saved me from the life of a workaholic. I love my work and so it is easy to keep doing it, even when I am tired and unproductive. Over-working can be hard but sometimes there is a comfort in it. We don't have to face some of our other challanges and needs. I have met many people, in my years of corporate life, who gave 100% of themselves to their work and yet they neglect their physical health and their mental well-being. "I don't have time" was often cited as the reason. We all have time, but we have to make choices with it. It is a precious resource and you spend it wisely. I'm not sure that there is anything wiser than investing some of the precious resource on yourself. If you are not well, you cannot work, support others, or be at your best.
This year hasn't started the way many of us would have wanted. As we start a lockdown that is going to take us through the winter and possibly to the spring we are presented with the gift of time. Our kids are not attending the usual clubs, classes or school, we are not commuting to work or travelling away. We have more space and time to reflect. I do think that is one of the best things to come out of the last 9 months. Perspective. Why don't you use some of that time to reflect on:
1) What do I want for myself in 2021? Many people set new years resolutions in January that are in tatters by February. Apparently, Dry January, was abandoned by thousands this week as the new lockdown was announced! Think about setting some personal goals that are realistic and attainble.
2) How will I invest in myself? Think about what investment you want to make in yourself this year in terms of time, money or other resources. What are you prepared to spend on yourself?
3) What help do I need from others? What support do you need from others to enable you to invest in yourself? For example, you might ask your partner to be 'on duty' whilst you take some time. How do you ensure that you can keep this up?
4) What do I need? This, in many ways, is the most important question of all. Sometimes we know we need to do something, but we ignore the signals and carry on.
One thing 2020 taught us is that life is precious and fragile. We have one life and it's important to live it well. You are worth it.
Thrive over 40 are running 'Your Life, Your Way' starting 26th January 2021. This is a 6-week programme, helping women reflect on their life direction so they can move forward into the positive future they deserve. Please book your free discovery call with Mel Bligh or get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to find out more.
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