• Dr. Patty Hlava

How to Invest in Yourself...and the lies we tell ourselves

It’s tough out there. We are bombarded with messages every day about what will make us happy—and what will make us healthy. We’re tired, and at the end of the day we’re seeking some kind of comfort—a reprieve from all the choices—and all the doing.

Most of us weren’t taught how to invest in ourselves. We have, however, been taught quite well how to spend our selves. What’s the difference?

Investing Versus Spending:

On the surface, the it can look similar: our resources of time, energy, and money go out, and we receive something in return.

If we look just a little deeper, the differences become really noticeable:

Spending looks like this: you expend time, energy, or money on something that is providing you a short-term gain. For example, you go out and buy yourself a mocha latte and a small dessert. You enjoy these very much, even savor them a bit. You might find yourself saying, “yeah—that hit the spot!”. You walk away from the experience feeling a bit satisfied, maybe even content. The next morning, you have forgotten about the latte & dessert, and that satisfaction is gone, and so is the feeling of content.

This same thing occurs when we go and buy the new shoes, or the new necklace, or the new handbag. We experience a hit of dopamine when we purchase, and then as soon as that hit fades, so does the feeling. There is no long-term satisfaction or happiness from the latte and dessert, no deep lasting joy from the shoes or the handbag.

What this creates is a vicious cycle of spending: we keep buying more and spending more to try to grasp and hold on to those brief moments of satisfaction.

The same phenomenon occurs in some of our health & wellness spending habits. You may find yourself spending money on massages and yoga classes. These experiences can be helpful—and even leave you feeling better, even great—for a day or two, but then by the following week you find yourself back to where you started.

If nurturing and caring for yourself is not part of your regular, daily routine—these intermittent approaches are not effective. It’s the equivalent of adding 2 drops of water to an empty glass and hoping that will quench your thirst. It gives you a sense of how you could feel, but leaves you feeling unfulfilled and chasing more.

Spending on yourself happens when you don’t have clearly defined goals—when your needs are a bit unclear. The result: short-term results.

Spending gives us a short-term experience of satisfaction, but there is no lasting in our overall experience of joy, happiness, and vitality in life.

Spending gives you a short term bout of happiness but there is no lasting effect on your happiness & joy in life.

What does INVESTING in yourself mean?

Investing in yourself is quite different. When you invest in yourself you get a long-term result. When you invest, the expense of time, energy, and money creates a lasting change within you—it alters the way that you do something on a daily basis. It shifts your perception and transforms the way that you see and experience the world.

It all starts with the Self:

“You only get one mind and one body. And it’s got to last a lifetime. Now, it’s very easy to let them ride for many years. But if you don’t take care of that mind and that body, they’ll be a wreck forty years later.” ~ Warren Buffett

“Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow” ~Anonymous

This is why YOU are the most important thing you can direct your time, energy, and money.

An investment in yourself is the ultimate practice of self-love, and may very well be the most profitable investment you will ever make.

The worst thing you can do that will self-sabotage the ‘futureʼ you is continuing to do the same thing and assuming that you will automatically improve and advance to where you wish to be.

That is definitely wishful thinking.

Improvement in our lives simply will not happen automatically. Improvements happen with we bring attention and engage in action. If we want to get better then we have put expend some energy in that direction.

How have you invested in yourself lately? How are you choosing to allocate your money, time, and energy so you have a happier, more successful, vibrant, and peaceful life?

Myth: I don’t have TIME

This is typically the first reason that the mind throws out to protest investing in yourself. It sounds a lot like, “I have a job, my kids me, and then there is my husband, the housework, not to mention (insert additional list of responsibilities and obligations here). The message here is that you are a super-human who has no needs and is solely responsible for taking care of everything and everyone else. This is not to say that you don’t have things to do and relationships that require your attention; however, this view is both limiting and incomplete.

Let’s zoom out: You expend all of your time on others. You’re tired, irritable, and over time feeling a bit resentful. The quality of your relationships suffers. The quality of your job performance suffers. You suffer.

Fact: You can’t afford to NOT take time for yourself.

If you don’t give time to yourself who will? If you don’t fill your cup first, you will end up with an empty cup. That leaves you in a position to give to others from a place of emptiness, and this is not only ineffective, it’s also not sustainable. It leaves you feeling distant, grumpy, resentful, lonely, and simply drained. You’ll experience more arguments in your relationships and dissatisfaction in most areas of you life. When you invest time, energy and money in yourself, you prime yourself to be in a position to give to others from a place of fullness.

You bene it—and so do those around you.

When you invest time, energy and money in yourself, you naturally begin to experience more joy. You show up in your relationships and in your work feeling centered, peaceful, compassionate, focused, and just pleasant to be around. Your relationships thrive, your work thrives—YOU thrive.

Can you afford NOT to spend time on yourself?

Myth: I don’t have money to spend on myself Here is a “Yes—AND...”. I would wholeheartedly agree that spending money on yourself is not necessarily wise, and not always feasible. That being said, when it comes right down to numbers, it is always possible to find money to invest in yourself. I came to learn this the hard way.

There was a time when I spent a lot of money of myself. It was even justified, I still believe. Justified because I didn’t know better. Knowing what I know now, I realize that I my spending money on myself was in fact, wasting money on myself, despite my good intentions.

I had suffered with allergies, which increased in intensity each year beginning in my early teens. By the time I was in my late 20s, I was dealing with recurring sinus infections that eventually resulted in surgery to address the scar tissue that had built up in my sinus cavity. I was spending between $100 and sometimes $500 monthly seeking comfort and reprieve. I met with allergists, homeopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, ENTs, nutritionists, massage therapists, and energy healers. All offered moments of relief in different ways. I would feel better for a day or two— sometimes even a couple of weeks, but inevitably, the congestion would return and I would suffer—and so would my wallet.

I spent on essential oils, hypoallergenic laundry detergents, air purifiers, and loads of other things to make my home “allergy-friendly.” I purchased a LOT of facial tissues. I spent quite literally thousands of dollars each year of allergy-related comfort-seeking purchases—each year for over 30 years! I shudder to think how much money was spent in this way.

Yes, my spending was somewhat justified, and not all was without benefit. I was truly suffering. The shift happened when I sent from spending to seek comfort externally to investing in myself. None of these things that I was spending my money on altered the way that I did anything on a daily basis. They all kept me in a loop of chasing relief and comfort without really addressing me.

One day I took a chance. I invested in my learning and personal growth and signed up for a training course in Ayurveda and a lot of things started to shift. My daily routine changed. And then—my breathing changed. In a few short months, I noticed my bank account had more money in it, despite the rather large financial investment I had made in my studies.

As my actions changed, my health changed. As my health changed, my energy and my emotions changed—and so did the way I spent my money. My allergies seemingly disappeared. I am now joyfully allergy-free and breathe quite easily—year-round! I no longer “need” to spend on all the things, such as loads of allergy medications, supplements, bulk supplies of tissues, and multiple care providers. Result = SIGNIFICANT monthly savings! My investment in myself paid for itself within the first year—and continues to reap rewards on the daily!

I have learned that I always have money to INVEST in myself. I’m always looking for opportunities for growth and evolution, primarily in areas of my health and my professional life. Without my health, I’m not productive or efficient. Without my health, I’m not balanced or even all that pleasant for those that I love to be around. Without my health, I’m not able to be in service to others—which is something that is really important to me.

“If you continue to invest in yourself, whatever you do, you’ll progress in every aspect of your life.” ~Kolyanne Russ

This is why I then focus next on investing in my work and career. Those investments allow me to further deepen and hone my knowledge base and skill set to offer the best that I can to my clients and group members.

Fact: Current spending patterns, once examined often reveal hidden resources

While it may be a very real thing that large portions of your money are funneled toward necessities such as mortgage/rent, groceries, utilities, car payments, and your child’s college fund, when we zoom out, start to see the other pieces. When we examine our spending patterns, we can often find loads of hidden financial resources that could be utilized for personal investment. The question to ask is: How are you prioritizing your spending versus your investments?

Some examples: •On your way to work, you stop and buy a latte at the Caribou Coffee. Cost: $5.00 daily, $100.00 monthly. Reward: Brief experience of pleasure (followed by caffeine and sugar crash) •You buy lunch out, or fill your desk with snacks to get by throughout the day. That’s an average of $15.00 daily; $300.00 monthly. Reward: quick convenience

When you choose to prepare simple meals for yourself at home and brew your own coffee, you quite suddenly have $400.00 per month that you can easily be invested in something that will provide you with more than a moment of pleasure and convenience. You get to invest in YOU. Now, why would you want to do that? Simple: You matter. The people who love you want you to be well. They want you to be healthy. And they definitely want you to be happy.

The question to ask yourself is this:

What is at stake if you don’t invest money in yourself?

Consider your relationships, your health, your career, and the quality of the life you want to be living.

Myth: It’s not worth it. While time and money are significant arguments that the mind will offer as reasons while we can’t possibly invest in ourselves, they are easily proven as false when looked at from a broader perspective. These are often the face of a deeper element—a core belief. We may hear our mind say, “it’s not worth it”.

What this really means is, “I’m not worth it.”

Very often, one of the single greatest obstacles to following through with investing in ourselves is the false belief that we are, in fact, simply not worth the time or the money. We generously offer our time, energy, and valuable personal resources to be there for others, but seldom allow ourselves the same kindness and respect. We do ourselves—and those we love—a tremendous disservice when we neglect our self-care and personal growth.

If this resonates for you—if a lack of self-love and low self-worth are obstacles in your personal growth and evolution, then you have found the BEST REASON to invest in yourself. When you make a commitment to invest your time, money, and energy in YOU, you are creating a shift in the way you see and experience yourself. You are taking the first step in changing your internal scripts. Once term for this is “neuroplasticity”. You are actually changing the wiring in your brain to see yourself as having value. You are overwriting old and outdated beliefs and creating space for something new to happen—for vitality and joy to arrive.

And why would you want to do this? Why wouldn’t you? Who are you to stay small? Who are you to hide under the guise of self-sacrifice? Aren’t you worth more?

It’s your turn.

FACT: You matter. You matter to those you love. You matter to those you serve. You matter a lot.

Isn’t it time you mattered to you?


In my experience, the answer generally comes from the body—not the mind. Here is what the process has looked like for me:

I hear of the offering (class, training, experience) and I experience a very notable excitement in my body. I find myself actually leaning toward the investment. My heart says “OH, YES! YES—THIS!” It’s felt deep in the heart and within the gut, there is a grounding feeling.

Then—my mind chimes in. It often likes to start sentences, “Yes, but...” It will jump first to the financial reasons why it’s “not appropriate” and then to the time factor. What happens next is the key for me. If my heart sinks, like a child who has been banished to the corner and has been told she is being “silly,” “stupid”, “ridiculous” for voicing a need, then I know that I need to explore this further and see how I can make it happen.

The question to ask is not, “can I afford this”, the questions to ask are “Does this feel right?” and “Will this get me to the next level of my personal and/or professional evolution?”

This process may take a little time. That’s okay. Give yourself space to drop into your heart and explore. The answer will come up, and if it’s a resounding, “OH, YES!”, then you know—this is an investment worth making.

You donʼt have to look far to see that those who decide to invest and spend time on personal development, seize great opportunities, and make long- term investments are those that live their dreams.” ~ Kolyanne Russ

An investment worth making is generally one that holds both excitement and a dash of fear. The fear is natural—these investments are journeys of change and transformation, and those are nothing short of adventures. An adventure always has components of the unknown, and the unknown can be a little scary!

When that fear comes up, it can be tremendously advantageous to reach out to others and talk. Reach out to those in your life that want the best for you. This may be a friend, a coach, a therapist, a partner, or someone in your support network.

If you want support with your inquiry, I am here to help.

Apply for a free Wellness Vision Session. We will talk about what’s happening for you, where you’d like to be, and what might get you there. We’ll explore how to best prioritize your needs so that you can be more creative, focused, and present for those you love. If I can help you on your journey, we will talk about that too. If not, I might have other resources for you.

You’re taken the time to read this far. You’ve already invested time in your thinking...

Now is the time to ask yourself: How will I invest in myself?

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