Invest in Yourself First

by Nate Hunter

Don’t get me wrong — it is indeed admirable to be a hard worker and loyal to your company; however, you must never neglect or put yourself second in the process. Never. 

As I continue to write my next self development book and coach clients in our niche industry of retail design, construction and facilities, I see a common mistake many folks repeat over and over again. In my opinion, it is the single worst mistake one can make that directly impacts their careers and ultimately their lives. It is the cause of burnout and the seeds of a disgruntled associate. The root of all evil: not investing the necessary time and energy into developing oneself. In this current climate where everyone is attempting to do so much more with so much less, it is blatantly clear that the combination of relentless dedication to companies and overwhelming workloads trumps all other parts our lives. It takes over home and family time and allows in an incredible amount of stress that ultimately affects physical health and mental well being. Don’t get me wrong — it is indeed admirable to be a hard worker and loyal to your company; however, you must never neglect or put yourself second in the process. Never.

I coach people on how to find a path to their fulfillment and purpose. And, by the way, it’s not always about picking up, leaving their current job, and starting a whole new career in a different field. Sometimes it’s as simple as the subtle changes that make the biggest differences. If you lead a balanced life, devoting time to your passion, your family, what will naturally happen is your work will be kept at a healthy distance — it’s kept at bay. I believe it’s unhealthy to be over focused on just one thing — especially if it is not the ultimate source of your happiness. It’s okay to have a day job that you enjoy — while it funds the fun projects and other passions in your life. The issue is too many folks are so overloaded with their day job that they’ve lost touch of their source of fulfillment. It’s not until they lose their jobs, especially nowadays through company restructuring and downsizing, that they finally realized the things they should have done all along. You actually become a better associate at your work place or a better owner to your business — when you put yourself first. When you are feeling fulfilled, you are present and in the moment. Simply, there is no longing to be elsewhere. So here are my three simple keys to remind you and help you to take the time to invest in yourself first.

1. You should always be looking for ways to further develop yourself and your career path. Whether that is through expanding your network, attending classes, seminars or conferences for further education or certification, you need to take action to do this because really, no one else will tell you to do this for yourself. This keeps you fresh and growing and off that fast track to burnout that I see happen to so many great folks in our industry.

2. Take your vacation time before you need it. Take your sick time when you need it. The work will always be there. You can ask any of my old team members in my 20-year career: I always encouraged them to “Smoke’em if you got’em.” Like the saying goes: On their death beds, no one ever wished they worked harder in life. Take care of your health, because in the long run that’s all that really matters.

3. Make time for your family and friends. Slow down to life’s normal pace. Family events such as attending your child’s plays are not only important for you, but for your child as well, because it is true — they grow up so fast. Visiting with your parents and learning from their infinite life wisdom is invaluable and one day you’ll be grateful you made time for them.

So, keep these three keys present with you at all times; practice them every day. Suddenly you’ll find what you’ve been overwhelmed with at work is really quite manageable when you are balanced by investing in yourself first.






Grace Daly is an industry leader in retail design, construction and facilities, as well as an avid career coach. She is currently the Executive Director of Construction & Facility Conferences for InterFace Conference Group.

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