Invest in Yourself for Free in ‘23
As a continuation of the theme of last week’s essay where I said companies should invest in people, I’m putting my money where my mouth is. If you want other people to invest in you, ask yourself if you do it. The Wall Street Journal agrees that the best investment in 2023 is yourself.
Some of my own personal investments, focused on health, already began in 2022 that I am carrying over this year such as doing yoga everyday and running more often. Here is my list that you can get ideas from:
There was a great advice tweet posted recently that says treat your body like a house you have to live in for the next 70 years and that is why I put health as the first priority. Health can mean physical or mental and both are absolutely connected.
Practice free yoga with Yoga with Adriene. Yoga is an exercise both for the body and mind and it doesn’t have to be expensive at all. You don’t need to buy any gear, if you’re lucky, someone is usually giving away free yoga mats. I got one from work which I use often.
Running is another way to stay in shape. Investing in proper running shoes was probably the best decision for my knees last year though. I began with the free Strava app on my phone to track my pace. Other people also use fitness trackers or smart watches and in my experience it had a positive impact on my behaviour.
Absolute beginners can try couch to 5k programs that you can look up online. Finding a running group also helps for motivation. There are some paid ones but you can start your own just by posting in a social media community. ClassPass and other similar apps depending on your location usually have free trials or good deals to try out different fitness activities in your cities. Find something that is fun for you. Exercise shouldn’t be torture so that it becomes a repeatable activity.
What makes the biggest impact in your current happiness is the people around you. I always thought that you had to put others needs first all the time, but that just left me burned out and exhausted. With the huge self-love movement, I learned the hard way that you need to put your own oxygen mask first before you can help other people.
Set aside time for yourself. A lot of people swear by having a morning routine even with family or work obligations. Journaling at the beginning of the day can help you subconsciously be more creative throughout the day. You can read more about the morning pages habit at Julia Cameron’s site. Meditation is another tool that people use to reduce stress, stay calm and let go of negativity. There are lots of free guides on Youtube, Spotify or you can do a free trial of apps like Headspace. Balance is pretty generous offering one whole year.
Do a relationship audit. You don’t want to waste time with people who only take something from you and contact you when they need your help but are busy when it’s the other way around. You are the five people who you spend the most time with, so select those five people carefully and make sure they are selecting you as well. This is not at all saying you should cut out all your shallow relationships, just being more mindful of the energies that we co-create through them. It is unsustainable when two sides are unbalanced.
To do well in one’s career, it’s important to stay curious and be a life long learner. If you can do it, take advantage of anything your employer has to offer. It never hurts to ask your boss as well if they can fund some of your learning materials, certifications or conference fees . Fortunately, my current company offers free masters courses, so I am doing the one on sustainability. If there isn’t anything offered at work, then again I take advantage of the free trials for learning platforms. This UI sketching class by Ryan Singer on Pluralsight is saved in my todos. This is also a nice list of 8 educational Youtube channels for general topics.
After the peak of the pandemic, in some countries, there haven’t been so many meetups again. On the bright side however, there have been more online events where you can connect with people globally. My method for finding out about these used to be Twitter, but now I’m just following various experts or groups centred on my areas of interests who promote these events on LinkedIn. For example, I love the AIxDesign community because their monthly newsletters keep me posted on this fast moving field.
Optimize your workflows by learning new tools like Chat-GPT to save time for more value-generating tasks. You can use it as a developer to check your code, answer questions you normally would have to find on stackoverflow and generate unit tests. As a creative, it’s also a good way to get out of writer’s block or to get art prompts. And if you’re trying to become an online influencer? Chat-GPT is like having a team working for you. I hope it doesn’t replace consultants someday…
Do you work in another country that uses another language than your mother tongue? This is the year to start learning it, if you haven’t yet. While apps like Duolingo can only get you so far, practice is really the best way to learn. In Denmark, Elderlearn matches Danish students with senior citizens so you learn at the same time while helping someone be less lonely. I was pretty lucky to have great neighbours who enjoyed having Danish coffee sessions with me.
Last but not the least, I have been putting this off for most of my adult life. I am finally going to invest in learning about investing. All I know is from Rich Dad, Poor Dad which I read as a kid. Rather than taking a lot of time to research, this is one area where I am actually spending a bit of money on courses like the one by Mario Scian because the laws and taxes are quite cumbersome to know in Denmark. To supplement, read this free article for optimizing investments for Danish taxes from Fernando Sasdelli. Female Invest is also an interesting platform that has lots of free webinars.
Most of these ideas are free but usually when something costs nothing, it costs more in time. Sometimes it’s cheaper to actually pay in the long run. Decide for yourself what you’re willing to pay for with time rather than money. I hope there is a good return on our investments this year. For myself, if my daily mood and self-love increase then it will all have been worth it.