When most people think about investing in their small business, the usual suspects come to mind: Marketing, automating processes or new tools to improve part of the user experience. And yes, those are sound investments, but there is only one that is sure to bring returns to any venture you take.
And if the title didn’t spoil the topic, let’s make it clear, yes, it’s investing in your wellbeing.
You have to work with other people and keep everything working to grow and achieve your goals. That’s why if you are not at the top of your game, you will experience a stressful snowball effect where one small issue grows and turns your days into nightmares.
I would love to say I’m exaggerating, but unfortunately, that’s not true. As I said in my State of the Union article, 2016 left a massive impact on my life, and not a positive one.
I was just coming out of a long relationship; my business had crashed because I lost some of my highest paying clients at the time and on top of it I had to move to a different apartment to reduce costs.
I felt burnt out and depressed; everything I worked so hard to get just simply vanished.
I tried working more hours and devoting myself to rebuild my business. And while I was succeeding, I wasn’t feeling any better.
One morning, I wanted to stay in bed and hide from the world, just like a kid who wants to skip school. And I started asking myself: What can I do to feel better?
I immediately noticed that the problem was not related to the amount of work I had or how much money I was making. The problem was that I wasn’t devoting enough time to myself.
I took a risk that day that turned around everything for me. I decided to start investing in my wellbeing.
Every day, no matter how busy I was, I had to devote time to improve an aspect of my life, a practice I lost years ago due to financial pressure.
Within just a few weeks, my mood completely changed and I was tackling my work with the same joy I used to feel when I was learning to become a web designer.
Now, after a full year of devoting time to myself, I feel more confident, and the challenges that show up in my business feel less scary than they used to. I can grow my business and tackle more responsibility without feeling like I’m going to collapse.
And the best part is that you don’t have to change everything in one go. You can achieve similar or better results than me by just investing a little bit of time every day.
Ask yourself: What areas of your life feel unbalanced or surrounded by negative thoughts?
Grab a pen and paper and make a list of everything that comes up when you ask that question. If you are anything like me, that list will be huge. Don’t worry; you don’t have to tackle everything at the same time.
Once you have your list, the first thing you need to do is to take a bit of time to acknowledge that you don’t need to feel bad about this. We all have moments when it feels like everything is out of balance or you just can’t handle things. But deep within yourself, you have the strength to change everything that is causing you stress.
The best way to invest in your wellbeing is to tackle those items that are causing you the most stress and require the least amount of effort to resolve.
“Wait… What?”, I hear you, just let me explain.
If you try to tackle the hardest items first, you will be spending most of your energy and your progress will be slow. It’s best to build momentum before addressing the biggest challenges.
For example: Back then, I was trying to rebuild my business from the ground up, and I was stressing out in front of my computer every morning. The problem wasn’t that I had a ton of work, the problem was that I was starting my day stressed out of my mind, so even the simplest tasks felt monumental.
To fix this, I decided to invest time into exercise and meditation before tackling anything related to my work. That way my head was clear before I had to start working on any project. Investing 30 minutes every morning was giving me enough energy to work for the rest of the day.
It was a small investment with a big payout.
Take into account that when I say “invest in yourself” it doesn’t mean that you need to pour money into something. Most of the time, devoting time is far more valuable than buying something.
So, for each item on your stressors list, ask the following questions:
- How much stress is this issue causing you?
- What are the positive outcomes of investing time to solve this issue?
- What can you do to eliminate this problem?
- Do you need to invest time, money or both?
- How hard would it be to implement your plan?
Once you have the answers to those questions, you will start unveiling a clear route to fixing any problem that you may be dealing with. I know it takes time to do this for each of your stressors, but that’s where you are starting to invest in your wellbeing.
Pick one item out of the list that feels like a low hanging fruit and invest the resources you need to fix it. My recommendation is to devote at least one full week so you can see results, and once you see them, you will start building momentum to tackle the rest of the items on your list.
This simple method has helped me change the way I looked at my life and work. It made me realize the importance of being at the top of my game and how most of the activities I do outside of work impact my wellbeing. Yes, even playing video games help me be a better web designer.
So, take this chance to start writing down your stressors list and see where you can make a few adjustments to free the energy that is trapped by those challenges.
I promise you, if you start investing in your wellbeing, you will reap outstanding rewards.