There are people who claim that ‘self-care’ requires wasting money.
They’ll encourage you to “treat yourself!,” because “you deserve it!”
Buy those shoes! Enjoy that upscale sushi restaurant! Upgrade to the nicer, newer car! You work hard. You deserve it!
You know what else you deserve?
You deserve the relief that comes from wiping out a debt.
You deserve the joy that comes from buying an investment or a rental property.
You deserve the pride that comes from maxing out your contributions to a retirement account.
You deserve the stress relief that comes from taking a long walk in the park while listening to an audiobook, or taking a yoga class, or enjoying a hard workout at the gym.
You deserve the finances and flexibility to take the afternoon off to visit the doctor or dentist, even if the co-pays and deductibles are steep, because your health is worth it.
You deserve the finances and flexibility to say “no” to projects and clients that don’t thrill you.
You deserve a night in, reading a book under a cozy blanket.
You deserve Inbox Zero.
You deserve 8 hours of sleep.
You deserve the hydration that comes from drinking more water.
You deserve the peace of mind that comes from taking care of your health, business, life and money.
Self-care is not pedicures, spa days, shopping sprees, golf clubs, sports tickets or fancy cars. That’s just noise.
Self-care is taking care of your damn self.
Self-care is the attention you give to your finances, business, career, health and relationships.
The time that you spend going to the gym, practicing yoga, writing in your journal, or connecting with a close friend on the phone … that’s not wasted time. That’s not time that you are spending away from work.
Self-care is part of your work.
Even laptops need to recharge.
Your financial and business problems are your personal and emotional issues in disguise. If you don’t heal an issue within your life, it will stifle you time and again when you try to start a side hustle, manage investments, or quit your 9-to-5 in order to create something meaningful yet unconventional.
These issues come up in a million ways, expressing itself as fear, doubt, overwhelm, anger, depression, short-sightedness, harsh judgment. These are the issues that hold each of us back, in different ways and at different times.
The issue isn’t the economy; the issue is within.
We’re not free until we escape our anxieties.
We can reach financial freedom. But that’s only one step. We don’t attain true freedom until we also let go of what’s emotionally holding us back.
Happiness is the cause of success, rather than the effect.
Paradoxically, when you’re satisfied with yourself, you’re more likely to make progress. You won’t self-sabotage as much. You won’t get plagued by self-doubt and anxieties. You’ll confidently move forward in the direction you want to go, because you’re happy and content and confident and this improvement in your life seems like the natural next step.
You won’t find happiness once you reach a million-dollar net worth, pay off your debt, get another degree, start your own business, or buy your first rental property.
The cause and effect are reversed. If you find happiness, or more accurately, if your find contentment, you’re more likely to achieve.
No matter how much we plan, we never know what’s next.
Sometimes when we look back in hindsight, the wisest actions we took were the ones that, at the time, seemed insignificant.
Sometimes when we look back, the biggest mistakes we made were the ones that, at the time, seemed like no big deal at all.
Each day, anything could unfold that could change the direction of our lives in ways that we could never imagine. There are big events, like accidents and sudden illnesses. There are small events, meeting a stranger who introduces you to another stranger who changes everything.
There are the moments that we will never realize are game changers until we have the benefit of 10 years of perspective, at which point we can look back and realize how that set into motion a series of events that re-wrote the story of our lives.
In the world of financial independence, we love to plan. We make detailed accounts of what our lives will look like in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years.
But we have no idea. Absolutely no clue at all about what’s in store.
Financial independence is not about planning for the future. It’s about giving yourself the flexibility and the wiggle room to adapt to whatever unfolds.
You don’t need to spend on a monstrous house or eyeroll-inducing new car, just because society has accepted that as normal.
You don’t need designer clothes, a fancy handbag or a tailored suit. You don’t need an expensive watch or overpriced trinkets.
You don’t need an advanced degree, just because people are pressuring you to do so.
You don’t need to travel internationally, even though a bunch of bloggers on the Internet, myself included, talk about it.
If you have other priorities, value your own priorities, not mine. Not societies. Not anyone else’s.
It’s your life, not theirs.
“How you spend your days is how you spend your life.” – Annie Dillard
Spend your days at the office, and you spend your life at the office.
Spend your days running chores and errands, and leave a legacy accordingly.
But if you spend your days around family and friends, eating healthy food, enjoying the outdoors, reading and traveling … this is how you will have spent your life.
The choice is yours.
One of the hardest and most valuable lessons I’ve learned is the following:
What other people think about you is none of your business.
They don’t need to understand you. And if you try to persuade them to understand you, to validate your ideas and emotions, you will fight a losing battle. Many people aren’t going to understand you, and that’s okay. You don’t need them to.
You keep doing you. Regardless of what anyone else says or thinks.
Self-care is letting go of the idea that “by this age, I should have [fill-in-the-blank … launched a better career, started a business, bought a house, reached FIRE, married, had a child, etc. etc. — insert self-imposed-expectation-here.]”
It’s tempting to measure yourself against imagined deadlines and barometers.
”By this age,” you tell yourself, “I thought that I would have [XYZ].”
You tell yourself that there is something wrong with you for not having done so yet.
That’s a nonsense, self-defeating story.
Life is not linear. Achievements happen in due time.
Sometimes you spend years building towards something, and while the outcome isn’t yet what you hoped for, the invisible groundwork is there.
Sometimes you’ll grapple with a setback and your biggest, hard-won accomplishment is returning to normal after an obstacle.
And sometimes, things just unfold in the way that they do. And there’s nothing more to it than that.
Don’t make yourself suffer due to a story that you’re telling yourself. You are where you are. It’s as simple as that.⠀
Fix what’s inside, and you’ll naturally fix what’s outside.
I’ve found that my biggest financial mistakes are outward symptoms of emotional turmoil:
- Loneliness or boredom that I mask through mindless spending.
- Fear disguised as over-analysis (to the point of analysis paralysis), causing me to miss opportunities because I’m all learning and no action.
- Anxiety that manifests as workaholism, procrastination and perfectionism.
- Stress that causes me to just. shut. down.
Every major financial and entrepreneurial problem that I’ve faced is, at its core, an expression of my unresolved issues.
And that means that self-care IS financial care.
When I say “self-care,” I’m not talking about consumerist “treat yo’self!” mantras. Pedicures don’t count for jack.
I’m talking about genuine personal care: adequate sleep, hydration, exercise, meditation, yoga, and yes, even paying for the high cost of therapy if you think it will be helpful.
There’s nothing frugal about refusing to give yourself the care that you deserve. On the contrary, lavishing time and money on the healing that you need will repay itself 10x down the road.⠀
Thoughts on self-care, originally published on Instagram.