A while back, I was talking with a group of friends about the risk of opportunity and the value of saying no. This group of friends — my tribe, as Kam would call them — is essential to my success. Even though I’m a kick-ass person who is capable of awesome things, I still need people to talk about the big stuff with — people that I trust. What started out as a simple question between friends morphed into an incredible dialog about the importance of investing in yourself and how those investments will help you be the best version of yourself.
When you’re first starting out in any venture — people (especially women) have the tendency to over-commit to projects in the hope that those projects will help them gain other opportunities in the future. I have definitely been guilty of this in the past — accepting way too many ‘volunteer’ positions, or taking on projects that weren’t really in line with my goals in the hope that those opportunities would lead to better opportunities in the future.
This wasn’t working for me, and honestly I don’t think it works for anyone. I was getting burnt out, not doing my best work, and generally hating this thing that I had always been passionate about. I took a step back and assessed my situation. I started to look at opportunities for what they were — opportunities; and not all opportunities are created equal. I needed to figure out which opportunities were best for me now and which opportunities would help me get to where I wanted to be in the future.
After a long time of not really having a clue — I learned how to truly value myself. The first step was understanding the importance of investing in me and how that translated to how other people valued my work.
Here is what I did:
First, I figured out what MY GOALS were. What did I actually WANT? — Write it down. Make it real. Post it on your wall. Look at it every day.
Second, I figured out what do I NEEDED to do to in order to achieve those goals? How can I break down these complex goals into manageable tasks that I could start working towards?
Third, I figured out that I needed to invest my time into those tasks in order to start working towards my goals.
Now this is a long process that will definitely go on for as long as you are working towards new goals — but let’s focus on one of the hardest parts: valuing yourself.
Let’s break it down to a simple equation: time = money
now let’s narrow that down: your time = your money
As bloggers and small business owners, we generally don’t have the luxury of dropping dollars to invest in every opportunity that comes along. We think a lot about how to spend money, and more importantly, how to invest money. We think long and we think hard before committing our hard earned cash. We ask ourselves — is this a wise investment? What am I actually paying for, and how will that further my goals?
Awesome — that’s the first step. But let’s take it to the next level.
Invest in your time.
If time = money, then it is just as important that you invest your time as well as you invest your money. To be successful it is important that you make WISE investments with your time, the way you would make WISE investments with your money.
As I started thinking of my time as my money, things became much clearer. Opportunities continued to roll in, and I began to assess each opportunity with three questions in mind:
- What is the time commitment?
- What will I get out of this project (both best and worst case scenarios)?
- Is the outcome going to help me achieve my goals?
Every time I was committing my time to a project, I was committing money to a project. Your time has an inherant monetary value (after all, you could be spending that time working a part-time job for cash). In order for these opportunities to be successful, you need to be satisfied with the return on your time investment.
Let’s think about it in terms of the stock market.
There will always be opportunities to invest in stocks that might go up in the future and have a great return. But if you don’t have that much money to spend on stocks (or time to invest in projects) you need to be wiser about which stocks you buy (and which projects you take on). This is especially true if you are just starting out and don’t have lots of capital (either time or money). Your decisions on how to spend your time need to be smart and efficient — the same as you would spending your money.
Diversify your portfolio.
The best way to ensure steady growth is to have some long, slow-growing projects as well as quick turn around projects.
Long, slow-growing projects are a great way to build up a brand reputation. These projects tend to require a serious amount of patience and work-ethic, but will pay off over and over again in the long run. My favorite example of a long, slow-growing project is 30 Days of Lists. Because of the time and effort put in by Kam and Amy, 30 Days of Lists has grown bigger and better with each round of lists. If you are serious about investing in yourself, committing to longer slow-growing projects is essential.
Quick turn-around projects are a great way to get the most bang for your buck. These are great for when you might have a little bit of ‘extra’ time that you can commit to a single awesome thing right now. Guest blog posts, blog party collaborations (like my Holiday Extravaganza), a DIY/tutorial post. or a comprehensive list of resources on your favorite topic are all great ways to invest a small amount of time and get a great return.
Take the next step.
Invest in yourself. Be the best you that you can be.
If you are serious about your goals and crafting a plan to achieve your goals, I want to invite you to check out BUILD. You can’t do everything alone, and BUILD offers incredible content to help you reach your goals and a kick-ass community to go along with it. Remember, your time is your money and to be a successful creative you must invest wisely. Kam and I are BUILDers and we hope that you choose to invest in yourself and become a BUILDer too.
How can you best invest in your portfolio this week?
Kristin is a millennial storyteller who loves documenting her everyday-life and awesome adventures. As the owner of rukristin papercrafts, a venue to share information and inspiration on creative ways to tell your story, she encourages others to dream big, find their voice, and be the author of their own adventure. An introvert who loves community, she loves meeting new friends online — drop her a line on twitter, instagram, or facebook and follow along with her story at rukristin.com.