Three Ways to Get Your Career Jumpstarted in 2023. Tip #3: Invest in Yourself

The new year is the time we make resolutions about almost every aspect of our lives, including our careers. If you’re ready for a fresh start in 2023, here are some ideas to get your career off to a good start. Click here and here to read the previous tips.

I’ve always been interested in the difference between the idea of “spending” and “investing,” especially when it comes to time. For me, spending time implies that you’ve paid out the time without expecting a return. You spend time watching TV, grazing social media, or shopping as retail therapy. Let’s make 2023 the year you swap out some spending for investing.

Pick up a book.

Investing time, in yourself, or anything worthwhile, means mindfully choosing your activities, doing them well, and getting a return for your effort. So the time you spend reading can be simply recreation or entertainment (which certainly has value) or for learning, growing, or deeper understanding. Ideally, you’ll set aside some time for both.

Reading for pleasure is different than scrolling media or watching TV or videos. You can grow and learn from any kind of media, and scientific studies have shown that both reading and watching engage key areas of your brain associated with language, memory, and symbol recognition. Reading has an advantage when it comes to using imagination; you work harder to put yourself inside a story and visualize the characters and action. Reading helps you grow, intellectually and emotionally.

Reading also requires quiet and concentration; you can’t use it as background noise or zone out while doing it. The time you spend in a quiet room, giving a book your full attention will also pay off by helping calm your nerves, reset your mood, and increase your ability to focus for longer periods.

Reading to learn is an important part of any true professional’s growth. If you’re truly connected to your work, you’ll enjoy reading about it. (If you find reading about your profession or industry tedious, it’s probably a sign that you’re not in the right career.)

Make a resolution to invest 3-4 hours a week reading, both for relation and growth.

Consider self-care an investment rather than a luxury.

Self-care includes exercise, nutrition, and spiritual practices, in addition to bubble baths and pedicures. Investing in how you look and feel is essential to your overall wellbeing. Start by making a log of how you spend your time in a typical week. Chances are, between work, taking care of home and family, and a few other miscellaneous obligations, you have time that could be better spent. Self-care should go on your schedule like any other important commitment. It helps you make the time for a walk, a pedicure or massage, yoga or meditation, or simply some time alone with a cup of tea and your favorite music.

Making self-care a priority will also help your family understand how important it is. It’s worth the time to set rules and boundaries that help you maintain your commitment. Ask your spouse to watch or take the kids out during your meditation sessions or nature walks. Remind the little ones that they can only interrupt if it’s an emergency. Tell your mom you’re taking Tuesday nights off from family obligations. Help people around you understand that self-care is not the same as self-indulgence.

Give yourself permission to do more of what makes you happy.

For me, it’s gardening. I even love weeding – maybe not in the immediate, sweaty moment, but I love creating order from chaos. I have three herb beds, and I love caring for them. Even trimming and weeding is joyful when you’re surrounded by the scents of rosemary, sage, and lavender. I love going out to snip some herbs for cooking or to slip into napkin rings on the dinner table. I have a green thumb, and coming home to care for my garden is a way to soothe and calm myself if I’ve had a stressful day.

What gives you that kind of joy or sense of purpose? Crafting? Creating? Journaling? Decorating or building projects? Connecting with friends? Joining a group?  Helping out a worthy cause? Notice that I deliberately inked joy and purpose – activities that produce both are true investments in wellbeing.

We often tell ourselves that we “should” get back to the hobbies or activities that make us feel good, feel alive. But who has the time? We all get the same 24-hour allotment of time each day; it’s how we choose to spend it – or invest it – that makes the difference. One hour less of television or social media, waking up one hour earlier, can give you the time you need to invest in activities that make you happier. You might even have the time to make the world a better place. It’s almost certain you’ll make your  world a better place.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes. Including you.” Anne Lamott

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