I’m not sure when it started, and I don’t think I even knew I was doing it at the time, but as I look back on the major life decisions I have made, I realize that I am an investor. I don’t have stocks. I don’t have bonds. I have far more in student loan debt than I have in savings, but I have been playing the market of life and experiencing a positive ROI for as long as I can remember. I have been investing in myself.
My current career does not reveal a direct path from my chosen field of study in undergraduate and graduate school. I remember coming home from Colorado in 2010 after I finished my MFA program, and besides the fancy folder holding my degree, I also had a giant plastic tupperware tub that contained all of my notebooks and scripts and handouts from grad school. “This tub is worth $40,000!” I exclaimed as I dug out a dignified place for it in my basement. This tub made me nervous. It made me nervous because I knew that it was actually worthless, that in fact every penny of debt I had accrued (and continue to accrue) from the decision for higher education was invested IN ME. There is nothing else to show for it. Me. That’s it. It is up to me to create a return on the investment I made. Am I a bad debt or a solid bet?
I have been thinking about this again recently for two reasons:
1) I am going to do it all over again. My work with private yoga therapy clients in the last couple of years has been deeply fulfilling and inspiring, and has revealed to me that I have a strong calling to become a life coach. So yep, I’m biting the bullet and making another big investment to go to coaching school this year. And it doesn’t make me sweat, not even a little. I am learning to trust in the value of my investments in myself.
2) We are about to launch the second year of Yoga Conservatory, the 200-hour yoga teacher training that I created out of all of the knowledge I have invested in over the last 15 years. Naturally, there are many people who are interested in the program, but who are nervous about the investment. I understand this, because I understand the internal conflict this brings up: Am I worth investing in? What do I need to do to prove that my investment “worked”?
We live in a society that seems to consider it selfish to learn for the sake of personal development, that demands an economic justification for all personal investment. So be it. Such justifications are easy to come by if you look at the economic impact of health, happiness, fulfillment and (most importantly, in my opinion) the removal of self-limiting beliefs that can occur when a teacher gives you the skills, guidance and permission to grow into your full potential.
It’s difficult for me to quantify which of the trainings or experiences that I invested in have helped me transition from a life of slinging noodles at the Old Spaghetti Factory (my first job after moving to Portland) to owning my own dream business, owning a beautiful home, being able to actually afford preschool for my two awesome kids (no small feat!) working with an amazing team of Portland’s best yoga teachers and launching an innovative and transformative teacher training program of my own. Like any investment, it’s a slow process that requires patience, faith and the courage to brave the ups and downs. But I will say it feels pretty darn good to take stock of my life today and realize that I made a great investment, and that is why I will keep pouring more of my money, time and energy into myself, because it HAS paid off.
If you are one of the people circling the idea of a yoga teacher training program, or even just a yoga membership, and hesitating because of the cost, I would urge you to remember the iconic scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, in which Harrison Ford is faced with the dark abyss of the unknown and must make a leap of faith.
How much are you willing to bet on yourself? And does the betting change the outcome? There’s only one way to find out…
P.S. Seriously though, if you want to learn about the potentially life changing experience of Yoga Conservatory (a program that is likely to turn you into a personal investor and a metaphorical cliff jumper, as well as a yoga teacher) please schedule a one-on-one meeting with me ASAP and nab one of the last spots before enrollment closes on 9/1. You are worth it!