This week has been one of the busiest weeks for the entire year. Not only did I attend a Financial Blogger Conference, but I returned to a hectic environment. I feel like I have been going non-stop for the past week with very few breaks. If that were not bad enough, I spent hundreds of dollars over the past week in order to do this to myself. That’s right – I CAUSED this.
And yet, I wouldn’t change it for the world.
While it’s important for young adults to prioritize saving and get control of their money, it’s equally important to focus on developing their skills. This is one of the few ways that they can get ahead. This isn’t to deny the natural advantages that young adults have in the work place. But, as this world changes quickly with the advance of technology (among other things), it’s important to change with it.
I have been focusing lately on investing, partly because young adults don’t know enough about it. While I still have many posts in the queue for this series, it would be a disservice to ignore one very important aspect of investing: investing in yourself. Taking the time to develop valuable skills that will help other people is important not only for career advancement (and thereby financial stability), but for a more enjoyable life.
Why Spend Hundreds on a Blogging Conference?
For those who don’t know me or don’t stalk me on facebook or twitter, this past weekend I traveled to Denver for my first blogging conference. Many people hear this and wonder why I would spend money going to a BLOGGING conference. After all, blogging is simple, right? Sadly, this is what people think blogging is: You experience something and write about it, hit publish and you’re done. I wish it were that simple. There is so much more involved in just the writing aspect of blogging. There is planning out topics. Finding keywords so that Google likes what you write and sends people to you. Then, organizing your thoughts or breaking down topics into focused ideas or post topics. Then, there is the actual writing, which takes time if you are going to do it correctly. This includes coming up with titles, subtitles, finding pictures, and making the post interesting. You have to get your readers interested. Then, there is the editing process. Did you misspell a word or two? Did you jump around too much? After that, you have to schedule the post. Different times of day, month, and year will affect who it is received and how popular it is. I could go on and on, and this is JUST THE WRITING PART of blogging. There is also the monetization, marketing, responding to emails and much more.
The reality is that blogging is complicated. While I have seen some moderate success, it is marginal to what is available. By attending this conference, I was being intentional to continue to grow as a blogger. I didn’t know what or how much I would get out of attending the conference before attending, but I was pleasantly surprised. I have already written out my 4 step plan (which actually has many more steps within these big foci). The simple fact is that I got so much out of investing in myself and you can too.
How to Invest In Yourself
This idea of investing in yourself applies to more situations than just a blogging conference. While this was my situation, yours is almost certainly different. Everyone needs to understand and apply this principle to their lives in different ways. Here’s how you can invest in yourself, regardless of your situation.
- Find What is Meaningful to You or Your Passion – Many people go through life without figuring out what they care about the most. Many young adults realize that they won’t be a professional athlete or obtain their dream job and give up entirely. A better alternative is to find out what you care about and pursue it.
- Connect with Someone Who is Already Doing What You are Doing – A great way to figure out how to pursue your dreams is to find someone wearing the shoes you want to fill. While I guess it is possible that you have an original idea, most likely there is already someone doing what you are doing. Once you find that person, get to know them. Offer to help them in exchange for information on how to get there.
- Test the Waters – One of the first things you need to do is determine if this route is going to work for you. Are there major flaws that are going to prevent you from succeeding? Or can you be successful in this path. The last thing you want to do is jump in the deep in without realizing that you are physically unable to swim. Find out if you COULD be successful.
- Obtain the Essentials – The next thing that you need to do is to get the necessary equipment. If you want to be a business person, you will need clothes to dress the part. If you want to be a freelance photographer, you are going to need a camera. This will depend on your distinct path, but find out what it is and get it. You don’t have to go all out, but having some nice things can serve as motivation to get yourself going. The last thing you want is to keep yourself from pursuing your dream because you didn’t have the essentials to follow through.
- Develop Skills – Last, but certainly not least, you need to develop skills. If you think you are going to be successful on day one, you are grossly mistaken. You need to develop the skills necessary. This may mean trial and error, but it may also mean night school or an unpaid internship. If you are really passionate about it, you won’t let the hard work keep you from your goal.
What You Can Expect From Investing In Yourself
If you are considering investing in yourself, you may need to understand the benefits of it before you take the plunge. Here are some of the benefits of investing in yourself. You never know where the path may lead you, but here are some general ideas of what to expect.
Increase in Skills – Whenever you are investing in yourself, you will extend your abilities. The skills you learn and the ability to help others may surprise you. You never know how far you can go or the depth of your reach until you give it a shot.
Increase in Compensation- Another natural result of investing in yourself is an increase in pay. Whether you are an employee for a company or your own boss, the more you invest in yourself, the higher your compensation will be. This isn’t a perfect correlation and it won’t ALWAYS work out, but as a general rule, the more valuable or talented the employee, the higher the compensation.
Increase in Happiness – Following your passion and making it work will often (not always) increase you happiness. There is the possibility of adding too much stress and therefore decreasing your happiness, but if you are doing what you care about, odds are you will be happier for it.
Meet Lots of Interesting People – Another thing that I realized this weekend is that by following your dreams and working hard to do it, you will run in to a lot of people doing something similar. The people you meet while working to refine your skills are going to be people that are doing something interesting. These aren’t the people who are sitting at home watching TV. These are the people who are doing something with their lives. I don’t know about you, but these are the people I would rather hang out with.
If you are thinking about investing in yourself, stop thinking and just do it. You may make mistakes along the way, but it will be a much more enjoyable and interesting life. If I had to guess, I’d say you won’t regret it.
Great summary, Corey. There is one other thing: increase in inspiration. When you interact with people on a scale like this, you get ideas which would have passed you by. And you prevent yourself from falling into a rut.
Blogging at its core is a creative thing. And when it comes to blogging about money, it’s an uncomfortable mix for many people: money stuff comes naturally to “left brain” type of people, creating comes naturally to “right brain” type of people.
Left brainers usually need all the inspiration they can get, and a conference like this is usually a shot in the arm, wouldn’t you say?
Thanks William. Yes, I agree – inspiration always helps.
It’s a bit riskier, but invest in opportunities. I know many people that have turned down job interviews that they would have had to pay to travel to. Sure, you might pay for the travel and not get the job. And then what did you get?
But what if you get it?
I’ve paid for travel to interviews three times so far in my “working life” and would do it again for the right job. It says a lot about you as an interview candidate and your level of seriousness about the position that I think sets you apart from other candidates who didn’t have to sacrifice quite as much personally for the job interview.
Sure, it’s a bit of a riskier investment, but the rewards can be great, too!
That’s a great example Mrs. Pop. I can see why some people would not want to pay for travel, but it’s one of those risks that can pay off.
If you are not willing to invest money in yourself then it means you don’t have confidence in what you are doing. If that’s the case it might be time to find something else to do.
That’s a great way of putting it Sean.
I’m a big fan of people investing in themselves. Purchasing a book or taking on some other expense (like a blogging conference) that will teach you new skills shouldn’t be a painful purchase – you are increasing your ability to compete and gain further compensation. While saving money is important, it’s equally if not more important to also focus on self-improvement so that earning potential can be maximized.
It’s one of the ways us young people can get ahead. 🙂
I’m cheap, but investing in yourself will pay dividend in the long run. It was a huge opportunity to meet successful bloggers and make some personal connection. That kind of opportunity is impossible to get in other fields.
That’s definitely true. I had a rare opportunity to spend a lot of time with people like JD at the conference. That wouldn’t happen elsewhere.
I was willing to pay to go to fincon but couldn’t get the time off of work! Hopefully next year I can make it.
I hope so too!
Certainly with blogging, it can start to feel like you’re just writing in a diary that no one sees. But meeting other people who know exactly what that feels like is beyond worthwhile.
I think going to that conference sounds like a really smart way to spend your money! I definitely hope to go one year soon.
Hopefully, we’ll see you there next year!
You are much ahead of the game in your 20s as I truly believe in investing yourself. It’s been 14 years since I’ve graduated from college and my wife and I agree I need to go get an MBA. A lot of my friends aks me for financial advice which I really enjoy giving due to being pretty successful in my investments. I’m trying to delay the MBA has I am enjoying learning how to blog, but I definitely need to update some skills.
You’ve got a lot of great things on your website, I’m going to bookmark you and start following. Like I tell my young friends if you want to retire in your 50s you need to start in your 20s.
Loved the wrap up and the rationale, Corey! I know that when you’re trying to build your business, spending the money on a conference can feel like a bad investment, but it often pays off so much in the long run.
I agree with Mrs. PoP too – I have applied for job out of my province more than once. Travel for an interview? Absolutely.
That first step is key. Knowing where you intend to go with your investment in self can help you better invest your time and energy into tasks that will help expand your outlook, business, life, etc.