My father was a banker on Wall Street so my brother and I were taught to save our money in order to invest in our future. By following his advice, I was able to travel to 13 countries in Europe after graduating from college, buy a car, and later buy a house. After I had children, I invested in their college funds that one is now using to attend a very good business college.
I have realized more recently that there are many other things that we can invest in and some do not cost a cent. One of the most important to me is investing in our relationships with others. How often do you reach out to your friends and family just to touch base and see how they are doing? When was the last time you sent a handwritten note or dropped off a small gift just to let a person know you are thinking of them?
I admit I had not been the best at this especially when I am juggling many work projects, kids’ activities, and household chores. The person who inspired me to be a better friend is Cheryl. No matter what vacation she is on, I always receive a postcard. I also get a card for most holidays including St. Patrick’s Day. I only recently purchased some nice writing paper and decided to write letters to some of my distant friends. I also bought a box of valentines like I used to give out in elementary school and I mailed them to a bunch of people including my mother and my brother’s family.
The response was overwhelming. Some of the recipients of these cards called me to express their surprise and delight. Others did question why I did it but you could tell they had a smile on their faces when they asked. For me not only was it fun but it brought back fond memories.
I also am investing in causes I believe in. I dedicate a lot of volunteer time to my alma mater. I not only work with various staff on programs but I try to assist students (especially seniors at this time of year), including listening to them vent! I also participate in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. This has been rewarding not just for the money I have raised over the years but Avon partnered me with a walking buddy last year who now has become a wonderful friend. Lastly I knit caps for newborn babies at Bridgeport Hospital. My friend’s father who is 80 years old delivers them for me and has actually told them he makes them. I know he gets a real kick out of it so it is fine with me.
I may not have much money to donate to causes but I feel the time I invest is much appreciated. But that is not why I do it. The ROI (return on investment) is so much more than what I give out that it makes me very happy. I have interacted with amazing people, learned so much, and I am so grateful for what I have. Just putting a smile on someone’s face is worth millions to me.
So if you don’t think you have the time for these types of investments, think again. I suggest you start small. Maybe it is volunteering for a day at a Habitat for Humanity build, or helping at a soup kitchen, or assisting your church or synagogue. If you work long hours, find things that you can do at night or don’t require you to be on-site. Whatever you choose, realize it is very rewarding for you and you are making a positive impact on someone else’s life. I is for Impact too!