Intellectual Health Sophia Pollalis

Investing in Yourself: More than Money

by Sophia Pollalis ATC, LAT, CSCS

I want to talk about you for a minute. You are an incredible individual with hopes and dreams and plans for the future. You’ve hit and missed marks. Your goals may have shifted as you’ve grown and come to better know yourself. I want you to know one thing. You are exactly who you are meant to be right now, in this moment. Any work you’ve done has brought you here, and any work you do will carry you forward.

How did that make you feel? Are you feeling empowered, like “yes, I have done everything I planned and I am exactly where I expected to be,” or are you kind of let down? More than likely you’ve got a mix of both going on. You might be supermom, but you haven’t done a thing for yourself in a month. You’ve gotten your education and work full-time, but you’re not done achieving what you thought you would by now. You’ve completed one part of a life stage and you’re saying, now what. Let me tell you something again. You are exactly who you are meant to be right now, in this moment.

When I think about investing, my mind automatically goes to money. I invest money into my 401K so I can retire at some point. I invest money into my education so I can work in my profession. I invest money into my possessions because $120 running shoes may be expensive now but wearing appropriate shoes for me will prevent medical bills later. Those are all common investments; everyone would agree on investing for the future and probably things you want and need. But investments don’t have to be all about money. I ask you, in the busy world we live in whether you are a stay at home mom, a student, entrepreneur, or CEO: what is YOUR most valuable asset? Take a moment and think about it. I’ll wait.

Time. We never have enough of it. Just one more snuggle. One more page. We have all been there and we know we make choices as to how we spend our time. We’re always looking for the best bang for our buck in money, so why not time too? We are multifactorial beings that have

different needs and aspects of our lives; our time needs to be split up too. Split your time up to achieve your goals. Let me help you figure out what’s most important. It’s not the what; it’s the why. I’ve been reading Find Your Why by Simon Sinek which helps give a different perspective to your purpose, as well as many successful businesses. It’s not the snuggle that’s important, it’s spending time with your kid. It’s not turning the page that’s important, it’s getting the information you need to complete the world you’ve been involved in. Your “why” is what you invest in.

Take “what” you enjoy and ask yourself “why” you enjoy it; what is its purpose. You might have to ask yourself a couple times to get to the root, but it will be worth it. I’ll walk you through some examples.

I enjoy learning. Why? Education and certifications are valuable to me. Why? Those things will help me further my professional goals. Why? Because I want to become an educator. Why? Because I am called to share my knowledge and experiences with the future of the profession.

I enjoy reading books. Why? It lets me relax. Why? The book world is different from my personal world and provides escape. Why? I require self-care to perform to my best ability. Why? You cannot pour from an empty cup.

This process literally works for everything and can help clarify what you should be investing your valuable time. Sometimes you have to spend money achieve your goals, and you have to determine its worth as well. Do you want to join a gym but keep talking yourself out of it because it’s too expensive? Have you always wanted to go on a yoga retreat or travel across the country living out of your car, but can’t bring yourself to drop the dough? Assess your goal; if you’re willing to spend the time and it brings you closer to your goal, then spend the money. If you’re not, that’s ok too. Maybe it’s not the time right now but your desire to do it doesn’t go away and it will be time in 5 years, or even 20! Your time is your time, and your money is your money. It is your choice how you spend both of these.

Female hand holding a pen and writing a plan in a planner

During the COVID-19 pandemic, so many virtual conferences and continuing education programs were available to me that I would have never even known about that were so beneficial to my education and future plans. I chose to invest my time to many of these because that was what I was going to get the most bang for my buck. I also chose to take days off after four straight days of conferences, which were just as exhausting virtually as in-person. I chose to read books for fun, which I haven’t done in probably a decade. I never planned on doing any of this, but they are what made the best use of the time I have been provided. As your needs change, take some time to readjust your “whats” for your “whys”. Some things won’t change, like your self-care routines. Others, like my education, will change with where you are in my process. What kind of books can you read? What kind of conferences can you attend or support groups can you join? What kind of exercise classes can you take? What is going to bring you closer to achieving your why? Your time is an investment not to be taken lightly. Choose your investments with integrity, poise, and most importantly center them around your why.