Non-Financial Investments

I have a lot of time.  Gap year status means I don’t have a full-time job, and I also don’t have any dependents.  No set schedule, no required obligations.

Sometimes people ask if I get bored.  The answer is usually no.  There might be days where I feel bored and restless all day, but for the most part, I keep myself happily occupied.  

Below is a list, in order, of what I place importance on. ("Work" such as errands, projects or applications are not included, since they occur sporadically).

 

Invest in things that keep you happy and healthy.
 

  • Food, Sleep

    • Food and sleep has a huge impact on health, emotions, and energy levels.  Ie, if you’re starving or pulling all-nighters, you’re not going to be a very happy camper.

    • What it Means: Eat real foods over prepackaged frozen meals, fast food, or candy. Take the time to learn to cook healthy meals that work with your schedule/lifestyle.  It’s ok to spend a little more money on that gourmet cheese or chocolate if it makes the food experience more enjoyable.  (Treat yo self)   

    • What it Means for Me: I don’t like to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but I also prefer to eat a home-cooked meal over eating out or eating frozen food.  The first time I really tried cooking was two years ago, when I was interning and I didn’t really cook after that summer.  I am by no means a culinary master, but I’ve been increasing my cooking repertoire through finding recipes that are relatively quick and easy.  I prefer to cook things that are done in under an hour and don’t require special equipment.  The one exception is a meal that takes over an hour, but makes a generous number of servings.  Cook for an hour one day, don’t have to cook for the next three.  (I also do buy those gourmet cheeses, because it takes a good dish to one that tastes like it’s from a fancy restaurant).

 

  • Relationships

    • The people you are surrounded by impact how you feel and what you do

    • What it Means: Spend more time with people whose company you enjoy, even if it’s just talking on the phone or Skyping.  Prioritize relationships - if your best friend always invites you to do something, but you always say no and don’t reschedule or plan to do something else with them, they’ll stop inviting you.

    • What it Means for Me: I don’t have a lot of friends that live near me, so I talk multiple times a week on the phone to my best friend and Skype with another a few times a month.  I tag along with the people in my ballet class when they go out to dinner, (which is interesting since most of them are almost twice my age).  I also spend a lot of time with my family, so it never feels lonely.

 

  • Learning, Hobbies

    • The two are usually related.  Could be fixing cars, dance, or reading.  But for a hobby to really be lasting, I think it’s something  you enjoy doing, and there’s either some kind of learning or improvement that also occurs.  If you always stay at the same place, you’ll probably drop the hobby pretty fast

    • What it Means: If you don’t have hobbies, try a few things you’ve always been interested in, it could be rock climbing or it could be knitting.  If it’s something that feels intimidating, you could always bring a friend, or find a beginner class.  The same thing can be set for learning.  If you want to learn Photoshop, find online tutorials or sign up for a class.  If you have a hobby that’s been neglected, try getting back into it.  If it doesn’t work out, you might find a new, but similar hobby like switching to a different musical instrument.  If you got your hobbies all sorted out, keep doin ‘em.  

    • What it Means for Me: Ballet all the time.  My gap year would be pretty boring without ballet.  Although I’ve also gotten into or back into some different things - reading, piano, cooking, and writing.  Photoshop is another, but that happened out of necessity more than anything else.  

 

  • Exercise

    • Can also be a hobby, or a component of a hobby.  But often requires certain conditions to varying degrees - energy, health (ie. sickness, injuries often prevent certain or all exercise)  

    • What it Means: It’s best if it turns into a hobby, such as going to yoga, because you’re more likely to enjoy it and stick with it.  It’s important to find what works for you - what you like, and your current fitness level.  If you like walking, start there.  It’s not always a good idea to jump into the next big fitness craze, like High intensity interval training where the pace is fast and improper form can result in injuries.  (They often tell you to do what feels right, but if you’re exercising on your own, there might not be anyone to correct your form or you might overdo it).  If you don’t feel physically comfortable or strong enough doing something, take smaller steps to get there.    

    • What it Means for Me: When I first came home 7 months ago, I was doing more of the HIIT workouts.  I liked them, but they also made my knees hurt, so I started to do them less.  After a minor foot injury from ballet, I had to temporarily stop all together, and started yoga instead.  Now I prefer yoga to HIIT because it works more of the muscle groups that don’t get used in ballet (shoulders, arms) which are my weak points.  I also like the time devoted to stretching.  There’s no one size fits all.  Rather than stick with one exercise program, or one where I’m prone to injury, I like to mix-n-match.  

 

  • Cleaning/Organization

    • Everything is a lot more stressful when you can’t find what you’re looking for because of the clutter, and you’re probably spending more time/money redoing or repurchasing things than if things were in order

    • What it Means: Devote a little bit of time each day to cleaning and organization.  Cleaning the kitchen for 10-20 minutes each day can be all that’s needed to keep it clean.  To me, that’s better than spending 2 hours cleaning up after a week of neglect.   

    • What it Means for Me: I struggle with this one.  But I’ve tried devoting a little time each day to cleaning, and choosing a larger project for the month - such as closet cleaning or cleaning out my phone.  

 

  • Indulgences

    • Indulgences can brighten your day, allow you to do something (such as a yoga mat to start yoga), or be beneficial to your mental and/or physical health.  

    • What it Means: Spend wisely.  For a lot if things, it means finding the right blend of design/style, quality, and comfort/ease of use for the price point.  So simple in principle, so difficult to execute…  (Exceptions on comfort would be display items, such as flowers or artwork).     

    • What it Means for Me:  occasionally buying a small flower bouquet to brighten up the dinner table, quality shoes that keep your feet from aching at the end of the day, gorgeous art print calendar that’s a little expensive but makes me happy each time I look at it     


 

The biggest investment here is time, not money.  Time to cook or sleep enough, time to spend with friends and family, time to spend on a hobby, time to exercise.