How To Invest In Yourself

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When I quit my job 4 months ago I thought I was going to be able to finally take a leave and go on a vacation. All my few years of working as an employee, the only time I took a vacation was when I got fired from my first job. I went to Cotonou to practice French for one month. And the only time I have gotten a leave was when I had a Unix training to conduct for senior NEPA staff in Osun state. I took just one week leave. Now things are much worse, everyday is a work day for me, no weekend. Taking a leave is just not possible. Not because I won't get paid while on the leave; I'm not even getting paid while working 18 hours a day. The major issue is running my business has been like climbing mount Everest, and taking a leave will be like going back home to rest and hoping to come back refreshed to start climbing the mountain from ground level again. Simply put, I would be undoing everything I have done so far and might probably just give up the whole entrepreneurship struggle. And vacation? That one is completely out of it: I don't even know how I will survive till year end and I'm already cutting down on everything that costs me money. For 2 weeks now I have been convincing myself that my blazers can go one more wear before dry-cleaning. Spending N4,400 on 2 blazers has suddenly become a big expense.

The only gain I have made since working full-time for myself is me. There has never been any other 4 months in my life that has changed me half as much as the last 4 months have. I remember my ex-boss asking me if I built my company website myself, after I made an Excel macro for him to automate one of the tasks I used to do for the company before leaving. And when I told him I built everything myself, he was surprised and said he's sure I won't go hungry for long. I set up quickbooks myself; I set up a comprehensive CRM tool that tracks my calls to leads, my emails to potential customers and my sales pipeline; I learned to build Windows Phone apps and already published 2; I built my website from scratch and redesigned my company blog; I setup a creative way of training over 450 people Excel online at once; I learned to overcome the challenges of electricity and internet availability; I set-up a premium email service with google to ensure that my mails to clients don't land in their spam/junk folder; I now know more about business than I could ever have known had I not quit my job; worrying about how to survive for the rest of the year has made me immune to peer pressure (even my parents have stopped talking about me getting married, it's now how is business going); I'm now an expert at telling people "no" and not feel sad about it (in business, targeting everyone as customer is same as suicide); I have learned to think always in the long term, to let go of short term gain in favour of a sustainable brand with long term gain; I have stopped trying to impress people, I only care about my paying customers; I'm now anyone and everyone's equal, I don't seek favour from anyone; and, most importantly, I am already learning the one skill I completely lack -- marketing. I have invested in myself.

So how do you invest in yourself?


First, it's not by quitting your job and diving head first into the (shallow end) of the business pool. The way to invest in yourself is to keep testing your limits. Keep challenging yourself to do more than you are absolutely sure you can. Let a large part of your life be faith-based. Learn to ride the waves of life. Give yourself some trouble, don't leave it all to circumstances. Add practice to your reading, focus to your practice, depth to your focus, and top it all with some craze. Don't let all your self-development stop at acquiring and reading books. And if you are not the reading type, I'm sorry, there's very little self-development you can achieve. Nigeria isn't really the type of country where people can learn to be good or great by watching others or soaking knowledge from the society. Reading, and doing it a lot, is the first step to self-development. Then putting to practice the knowledge you acquire from books is the second step. Putting passion/focus into your practice is the third step. Going deeper and deeper is the fourth step. And stretching yourself to the limits, doing crazy stuff with your knowledge (like risking all your life savings on an idea) is the final stage. 

And so I challenge you today, go invest in yourself!


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