Clock covered in snow and awaiting the New Year

It’s hard to believe, but another year is coming to an end.  It seems just yesterday that we started a new year.

I love using the end of the year as a time to reflect on my business and personal growth.    

Questions start to pop up.  You know those deep diving questions that make you analyze every decision you ever made.  At least in the last 365 days.

Have I done everything possible this year to grow as a business and person?

Or if my goal is to stay smaller, am I being successful? 

Did my profits increase this year?

And don’t forget those personal questions that creep in…

Am I taking good care of myself?

Am I investing for my future?

Is my family where I want them to be?

Heavy stuff I tell you.  It can sometimes be uncomfortable to analyze your progress.  Especially when you aren’t sure how exactly you measure up.  I know I can get kind of nervous just I’m looking at my quarterly goal success.  Reviewing a whole year can be mind numbing.

No matter how this year went, though, it’s time to focus on the next.  2020 is a blank slate.  What do you want to do?

As I start to write my New Year goals, I look at how I am going to invest in myself during the next 365 days.  This last year I spent my time working on this blog, building my business email list and adopting a healthier lifestyle.  These investments have lead to increased blog views, an email list that converts into sales and a more productive me.

Alarm clock and growing stacks of money on a table with the text overlay "How to invest in yourself in the year ahead"

You can do the same when writing your New Year goals.  Think about different ways you want to invest in yourself during the next year.  You are the most important thing.  Without you there wouldn’t be an amazing creative business, thriving family or community helper.  

But to grow this year, you need to invest in yourself.  Here are 12 ideas to invest in yourself and make the next year amazing. 

Make a More Productive You

Now that I’ve started to master my productivity, it’s my jam.  I love seeing how I can squeeze even more efficiency out of the limited hours that we’re given each day.  But even more fun is exploring new things with all of this found time.

Every year, I try to perfect my productivity even more.  The reality is that there will always be something to improve in the productivity department.

Pick one thing that you want to work on this year to increase your productivity.  For me, I am trying to use the Pomodoro technique and time blocks to get more focused work done in shorter amounts of time.  

Some other ideas to improve your productivity might be organizing your office space (and keeping it organized).  You could also focus on reducing time wasters and using your extra 5 minutes on helpful tasks.  Instead of just scanning your phone. 

Another idea is to start using quarterly goals and making it your most productive year yet.

No matter what productivity challenge you decide to take, improving how you use your time is definitely a great way to invest in yourself.  It’s amazing how many extra minutes you can find in your day when you try.

Woman in self hug

Prioritize Self Care

As busy moms, it’s hard to worry about ourselves.  Most of our energy is put into taking care of others every day.  According to a recent study, moms get only an average of 17 minutes of free time to themselves each day.  That sounds about right.

But self care is essential to our health and productivity.  Without it we are not as successful or happy in life.  Plus, spending time caring for ourselves gives us more patience and energy for our children.  They see the payoff as well.

Self care has never been easy for me.  It’s hard to leave my kids with someone else.  I always worry about missing out on a moment or another caretaker not following our family’s guidelines.  

At some point, I had to let go.  At least a little bit.  

If self care isn’t a priority for you yet, invest in yourself this year and put it at the top of your list.  Identify activities that you would enjoy doing to practice some self care.  My favorites are bubble baths, writing cards to friends and doodling.  Some other ideas include journaling, reading a book for fun, going for a walk or even cutting something you hate out of your schedule.  You can check out some other self care ideas here.

Most importantly, take some time to yourself.  Some of my best design and product ideas happen when I am doing something completely unrelated to my work.  Just because you physically take a break on your projects, doesn’t mean your mind shuts off.

Boost your Health

Around September this year, I decided to participate in the Last 90 Days Challenge from Rachel Hollis.  Although I’ve never been a huge fan of diets and extreme physical fitness, I decided that I wanted to develop some long lasting habits in the healthy lifestyle department.  

By taking on her challenge, I have successfully started drinking even more water every day.  I actually cut back on my coffee intake significantly and replaced it with water.  My afternoons also are now filled with tea drinking, which leads to a better night sleep.  Who knew?

I also added in a 30 minute daily walk in addition to other exercise opportunities.  And I turned my family’s meal routine on it’s head.  It turns out that what I thought was healthy eating wasn’t terrible, but wasn’t perfect.  It needed an update.

The results?  I feel the most energetic I’ve felt in years.  I’m also well rested and more productive every day.  Just because of these changes.  At least I’m assuming it’s these changes.  

You can check out more information about the Last 90 Days here.  If you are starting the new year, though, you could complete the challenge as the First 90 Days.  Just flip it around.

One of the best ways to invest in yourself is by boosting your health.  Adopting a healthy lifestyle can change how you feel every day and result in more success in every area of life.

The key for me, though, is developing healthy habits.  I don’t like adopting healthy mantras temporarily.  If you are interested in boosting your health, maybe choose one or two things to work on.  Start focusing on those every day.   Once those things become habits work on the next one.  Over time, you will start living a healthier lifestyle that boosts your health.

Attack the Clutter

A week doesn’t seem to go by around here where we aren’t carting something new through the door.  And before you tell me to stop buying things, this accumulation of things isn’t usually because of me.

Between the nature treasures that the kids collect from the outdoors, items dropped off by the grandparents and art pieces dragged home from school, staying on top of the mess and clutter when you have a family seems to be a full time job.

Too much time is spent on the weekends sorting through all of it.  And I just hate even thinking about all the wonderful things we could be using that time for. 

This year put a stop to the mess.  At least try to.  Invest in yourself and your home by going minimalist.  

I always end the year with a massive clean out of the kids’ toys.  We review what they are actually playing with, what toys can be retired to the basement (where they can still play with them, but they aren’t cluttering up the playroom) or we plan to give away to others.  This process usually helps clear the play area in time for Christmas.

On top of the toys, I take time to review the kids’ art.  Some of the art is displayed.  I take photos of the bigger pieces and archive them.  Others that no one can bare to part with are stored in a portfolio.  

If you have amassed too much stuff this year, invest in yourself before the New Year and sort through it.  Start with a small space – one drawer, a desktop, a nightstand drawer – and sort through that.  Once you’ve accomplished a small space, the bigger ones seem easier.

As the New Year approaches, adopt a few rules about clutter in your home to help prevent more piles from forming.  I created a box for the nature collection in the garage.  Whenever something beautiful is collected from outdoors, it goes into this box for later analysis. 

I have also scheduled in a 15 minute block each week to sort through art, school forms and mail.  By setting aside time to tackle this paperwork, it’s less likely to continue piling up and becoming a nightmare to organize later.

When thinking about ways to tackle the clutter in your home, figure out the sources first.  What things bother you the most?  Where are the bottlenecks in your house?  What do you want to get rid of most?  

Then, try to come up with solutions for your biggest clutter areas.  Don’t try to solve everything or you’ll get overwhelmed.  Choose one or two things to work on.  By taking back even a few spaces in your home, you’ll feel more productive in the new year.

Focus on Experiences

If you think you’ll be successful next year because you just purchased the newest mobile device, think again.  It turns out that our happiness and success are not linked to material possessions, but experiences.

When looking for ways to invest in yourself in the coming year, think about what you can do instead of own more things. 

Is there a business class that you’ve been wanting to attend or a creative course to learn a new skill? 

Maybe you have been putting off an awe inspiring trip for a few years? 

Or you want to get a few visits in to family and friends?

Whatever experiences you have in mind, make that the goal this year instead of more stuff.  Your experiences bring life long happiness.  The reminder of what you did and where you went are more lasting than the joy of a new bauble.

And experiences let us meet new people and build social relationships.  A business conference might pay off with new customers, business ideas and mentors.  You can also bond more with others in conversations about your experiences.  These connections can lead to lifelong friendships and stronger relationships with your customers.

When choosing experiences to enjoy, make sure that they fall in line with your purpose and passions.  Select conferences and places to go that speak to you and have meaning.  Also, consult your bucket list to make sure your staying in line with your life goals.  

Once you start making experiences a priority this year, the rest of your investments will pay off.

An assortment of old photos in stacks

Become an Archivist

One of the jobs as a mom that I’ve adopted this past year is being our family archivist.  Except I haven’t done a very good job keeping up with the records.

Faced with years of photos to sort through, I have slowly started organizing our digital photos.  This process is long and tedious, but definitely a way to invest in myself.  It’s been wonderful to create photo books telling my family’s story.  I want these memories all in a safe place for years to come.

If you have a similar photo issue, consider spending some time this year getting organized.  I set aside time each week to work on sorting and archiving our photos.  Although it’s been a lot of work, finding gems in the photo pile have been well worth it.

Once you’ve organized your photos, you can make photo books, frame the favorites and create photo gifts.  

Most importantly, don’t let the photos become a bottleneck again.  Schedule time each month to sort and organize the pictures from that month.  Spending a little bit of time organizing your pictures will be well worth the investment in the long run.  

Find More Friends

Like the real life kind.  Not social media.  

Although we all probably can say we have plenty of virtual friends, how many of these friends do see regularly in person?

Instead of collecting online social contacts, make it a point to see your friends regularly.  Everyone is busy with family and other commitments, but nothing can replace the joys of physical social interaction.  Try to schedule times to get together and stick to them.

I know sitting on the couch scrolling through social media might seem more relaxing than physically going somewhere, but invest in those relationships this year.

If you’ve grown apart from your friends in recent years, that’s okay.  It might be time to make new ones.  Invest in yourself this year by joining some new social circles, becoming active in your community and introducing yourself more often.  You never know when your new best friend might walk through the door.

Start your Creative Business

Do you dream of starting a creative business, but haven’t had the confidence to do it yet?  Make this your year.

There’s never a better time to start your creative business than today.  Decide on the products you want to sell, write up a couple of product listings and open an Etsy shop.  (Or an e-commerce shop on another platform.)

The best part about an Etsy shop is that it’s a low investment.  At $.20 a listing and no required website, you can easily open your Etsy shop in an afternoon.

Remember, so much can change in a year.  If you start today, who knows where your business will be at the end of next year.  So, don’t wait any longer.  It just takes one listing to get started.  You can grow your business from there. 

Started your Etsy shop, but not sure what to do next?  Check out these things you must do during your first year in business.

Girl saving dollars in jar

Save for Retirement

As much as I love running my small business, eventually I will want to retire.  And it’s easy to push aside retirement to focus on short term goals and other current expenses.

But saving for the future is really important.  21% of working Americans aren’t saving anything.  And those that choose to save are putting aside less than 10% of their annual income.  

It’s just not enough.  Not with rising healthcare and retirement costs.  According to the Stanford Center on Longevity Project, if you want to maintain your current standard of living when you retire at 65, you need to put away 10 – 17% of your earnings.  That’s a lot of money.

Get on the right track to retirement this year and start saving.  Although discussing retirement can seem overwhelming, once you get started it can be a lot easier.  So, invest in yourself financially this year.

Find a Hobby

Do you ever feel like you have a lot of free time on your hands?  If you’re a busy mom, probably not. 

Even if you don’t have a lot of free time, hobbies are important to your self care.  We all have interests beyond our family and kids.  I know I have many things I like to do, but subdued them over the years to be able to spend more time with family.   

Hobbies aren’t a bad thing, though.  They make us interesting people and challenge our brains to learn something new.  It’s also a great way to meet people who are also passionate about the same things.

So as part of this year’s investment, pick a new hobby to try and set aside some time to work on it.  Whether it’s playing a new sport, trying a craft or following your passion to become an expert on a new subject, this upcoming year can be even more fun when you discover something new.

Cup of tea and reading on blanket with the text overlay "12 ways to invest in yourself this year"

Attend Networking Events

One of the terrible habits that I’ve formed since working from home is not getting out of the house enough.  Don’t get me wrong.  I volunteer, drive my kids to activities and am active in my church.

But work hours are spent at home.  Well, working.

The problem is that working from home can cause isolation and feeling a bit cut off from the outside world.  Not every day, but sometimes.

One way to get out of this bubble is by networking with other freelancers, small business owners and work from home gurus.  I am blessed to live in a community with an amazing co-working culture.  And although it exists, I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t tapped into it yet.  Sorry.

This year I am going to invest in myself by attending more networking events and becoming active in our local freelance community.  I’ve never heard of any harm coming from spending more time growing your social circle.  Especially if it helps you do your job better.

So, burst out of your bubble this year and start making connections in the community around you

Not sure where to begin?  Check out your own local co-working site (or coffee shop if co-working doesn’t exist in your neighborhood yet) and see if there are any upcoming events you can attend.  Also, check community colleges and other local conferences.  You never know when that perfect networking event will pop up for you to attend. 

Develop a Reading Habit

One of the hobbies that I put aside when I had kids was reading.  This was not by choice.  My reading habit continued strong after having my first little.  It turns out that breastfeeding and other quiet times during the day gave me a chance to snuggle up with a good book (even it also meant I enjoyed a baby sleeping on my chest).  

But as the kids have grown and become more active, one thing that’s changed is the amount of reading time that I have.  This adjustment didn’t happen all at once, but I suddenly realized that I went from a couple of hours of reading time a day to almost nothing. 

Until recently.  

My goal this past year has been to develop a reading habit again.  It’s not always easy to find reading time as a busy mom.  Beyond reading kids’ books, I don’t always feel like I have the energy to pursue my own reading choices.  So, finding time to read starts with choosing a book that I’m interested in reading.  Once I have that in hand, it’s easier to find more reading time.

I have explored many ways to discover more minutes in my day to read.  They like to hide on you.   But when I spend time reading in sips during wait time and carving out time at the end of each day to enjoy my book, I’ve discovered that there is time to read every day.  I just have to be stealthy to find them.  

Invest in yourself and your reading habit this year.  Start the year by making a list of books you’d like to read.  If you aren’t sure where to begin, check out PopSugar’s Reading Challenge for 2020.  They give some great themes and book ideas for 40 selections to read in the coming year.  Plus, who doesn’t love a challenge.

If you enjoy keeping a record of the books you’re reading, start maintaining a reading log.  This classic tool stolen from my elementary classrooms is a great way to record all of the great things I read.  And it feels like such an accomplishment as I fill it in.  Because, let’s be honest, I will never remember what I read in January by the time December rolls around.

Final Thoughts…

As the year slowly comes to a close, it’s important to think about how you want the next year to go.  What do you want to do?  What do you hope to accomplish?

I start thinking about the new year by figuring out what my business’ focus will be.  Once I determine that, I start to think about the goals that I want to accomplish.

Unfortunately, most of these discussions are about my business.  Not about me.

It’s important to also take some time to think about how you can invest in yourself during the coming year.  You are just as important as your business – if not even more important.  When your engines aren’t running well neither will your business. 

There are lots of ways to make this your best year ever.  But all of those things start when you make a plan to invest in yourself.

So, set aside some time and think about ways that you can become even more awesome this year.  Write down the things that “you” personally want to accomplish and do this year.  Then, write the steps you need to complete to get there.  Remember, your plan is only as good as the path that will get you to your end goals.

Wishing you a wonderful upcoming year ahead.  Here’s to accomplishing all of your business and personal dreams! 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *