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How to Increase Your Value

Soon after graduating from school, I moved to the arctic of Alaska to run my first chiropractic clinic. I was 24 years old and grateful for the opportunity to be of service to the First Nations community there and the chance to pay back my student loans and create a small nest egg for the future.

My work days were long and it was mostly a lonely existence - back then, even a phone call home to Canada was $2 a minute, so most of my down time was spent reading, writing, and making plans for the future.

Earning over six figures a year was a dream come true. In a little less than two years, I was able to pay back all of my student loans and help my family in Toronto with their finances in a meaningful way. I could have stayed there a few more years to build more financial security, but with the weight of pressing financial pressure lifted from my shoulders, I felt a strong calling to move on to pursue other interests.

I used a good portion of my savings to spend the next 4-5 years between Ohio, California, Korea, and Toronto pursuing my interests, first with water fasting and then to improve upon my Korean language skills.

So from about 26 to 30 years of age, I made little to no income. During that time, I remember feeling like I was falling behind. I wondered if I was being foolish in spending my time on these other interests when I could be thriving financially.

Looking back at those years of self-directed learning where the syllabus was dictated by my heart, I am immensely grateful that I was led to spend my time and resources as I did. That period was absolutely vital in shaping my vision of the person I wanted to be and how I wanted to spend my life. Without realizing it, I was able to develop valuable skills that have allowed me to experience much fulfillment since - I’ll aim to write a separate piece on this in the near future.

The point I wish to share is this: my life experiences have taught me that the best investment we can make is in our own development. As Kyle Cease so beautifully puts it, “your true value is how closely connected you are to yourself. You are increasing your value if you are getting to know yourself better.”

This isn’t to suggest that we ignore responsibilities we have in managing our finances or caring for dependents. Rather, it’s to point out that beyond meeting these foundational responsibilities, our next greatest priority should be on becoming more aligned with all that rings true for us. When we use our time and resources to pursue things we feel a connection to, we become more whole and capable of adding value to everything and everyone around us.

Living with this mindset can be challenging if we surround ourselves with people who put their focus on comparing themselves with others. There can be a toxicity to camouflaged and overt displays of status and accomplishment. If we want to more closely align with all that is truly meaningful to us, it is vital that we not give our energy to those who find satisfaction in regularly comparing and peacocking.

If the ideas of investing in yourself and being more closely aligned to your core values are appealing, here’s a suggestion to consider:

Every day, aim to do at least one thing that delights you. Be it taking a nap, going to a hot yoga class, taking a hike, treating yourself to a meal you love, sending a note of appreciation to a friend, doing something kind for another living creature, or anything else that you simply don’t have to justify doing because it deeply nourishes you.

Over time, as we choose to spend more of our most important resources on being more closely aligned with things that really matter to us, we gain access to so much more of our potential to receive and give.

I'm curious to know:  If your 18-year old self were to ask you what he or she could do to increase their value, how would you respond? What general guidance would you give to your younger self, knowing all that you do now? Please consider sharing in the comments section below.

 
 

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Comments

I so needed to read this article regarding Emotional wellness. I have been taking some time to nurture myself. And this has great value. This is not the norm for most.

The only worth I have is as a child of almighty God - if I were to go back to 18 years old I would advise myself to develop a deeper, stronger relationship with the God of the Bible and seek to follow Him more closely and follow His divine direction for my life. I am nothing without Christ - He is my sole and supreme joy in life here and I know I will spend eternity with Him. Hallelujah!!

This is a tough one. At 17, I joined the Army 3 days out of High School and celebrated my 18th Birthday (1980) in boot camp. This was a different time in the military, the negative effects of Vietinam were still prevalent so it was a very harsh experience. I learned many many life lessons in a very short time which prepared me for the future. There was one very important decision that I could have made during that time that would have directed my life in a completely opposite direction of where I ended up. There was no preparation for it, or chance to ask my parents, they wanted an answer right then and there. Had I been prepared, I would have taken the opportunity. Its difficult to know how I could've prepared, but this decision, although somewhat self serving would have increased my value immensely. After I was done with training, I returned home, and began a downward spiral toward a life of excess and destruction. I utimately did make a good decision that corrected that path and have lived a decent life, but never looked back until now.

General Guidance: #1 - Look before you leap, haha. #2 - Weigh your options intellegently, to make a sound decision. #3 - Be kind to others, it will pay immeasureable dividends in the future.

First of all.....excellent article.....my insights....
Recommendations to my 18 year old self...
1. Do not believe everything your hear, rather be inquisitive, analyze, and check it out.
2. Just because somebody says something (inclusive of parents) does not make it true..
3. Learn to hear and listen to your inner voice.
4. Then be brave and take risks....trusting yourself
5. Above all believe, really believe yu are valuable and worthy.

Thanks for the opportunity..Martha Bishop

What I would say to my 18-year-old self… Is exactly what I wrote about in a blog, when reflecting back on my own life. It’s a cute lil’ story. I do hope you’ll take a look: http://justownyourself.blogspot.com/2012/11/hop-aboard-love-bus.html?m=1
❤️ Victoria

Hi Victoria - thanks so much for sharing that lovely post with us. I love your distinction on who vs. what we become. :)

- Ben

Loved it, Victoria! Thanks so much!

Ben has said this himself (beautifully, as usual), but here's me corroborating it.

Do everything you did do, Young Me, but find a way to develop radar for people who will one-sidedly sponge your time, energy and finances. If you do that, you won’t get caught by surprise and hurt like the dickens over and over!

I’m so proud of and happy with who you are and what you know, and know how to do. Your flip from trusting no one to trusting everyone cost you a lot, though, and still does. Find someone smart, loving, and totally non-judgemental to whom you can tell your daily stories, and you’ll start to see patterns that I never did.

At the very least, don’t run all the time — take some time at least every couple of days to reflect on who’s important to you and why. Are they giving and supportive? Or are you just looking after and lopsidedly lavishing love and delight on someone who remains an Eeyore and a Grinch?

Sounds backwards to increase your value by doing *less* for others, but I’m here to tell you there’s a limit, past which you lose that valuable self to illness, resentment, and a recurring longing for release.

It's exhausting to always be around people who always take, take, take and never give, and I hope with all my heart that you discover that many years sooner than I did!!

Don't let your fears stop you from going after your dreams.

Your words ring so true. As a cancer victim, I had to learn and do many new modalities to deal with my treatment. After treatment and in remission, when I was in recovery from the treatment, I needed to learn and do other modalities. During this time I discovered the power of Asian wisdom to help me. Taoist meditation and thought practices along with QiGong and High Intensity Strength Training (HIST) have gone a long way to improve my blood markers to levels I never saw before. No regrets, but at 74 yrs I realize that this knowledge 50 years ago might have prevented my health from deteriorating. I am hopeful that this new knowledge an practice will increase my healthy longevity. Thanks to you and kudos for this wonderful site and great, caring information you provide. I have benefited from your videos and wisdom which have helped me and eased the pain of things ai have done. As a Life Coach I truely appreciate the VALUE that you have added to my life. I refer your site to those who will take your wisdom and caring for their betterment.