Notes from an investor: people, projects, plans.


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Recently I started investing. My money. My loot. My greens. My Benjamins. My clams. My dough. My wad. My lettuce. Okay, I’m done.

It makes me feel like a serious adult to say that I’m saving money. I wiped out all my student loan debt this past December and I figured that was the next adult-ish thing to do: begin investing.

When you first start investing, the whole process seems a little intimidating. The website I use ultimately tells me how much I need to save up if I want to retire at age 67 (they picked the age, not me). There are pros and cons to looking “Big Picture” at your life like this. Pros: you see what you’re working with. Cons: you figure out what you’re working with and you realize you’re not working so well with it. 

The app I invest with gives you a list of options as to where you can invest your money: a home, a retirement fund, your children’s college funds.

There are too many options and I find myself thinking I need to invest in every single one right this very moment. 

I’m not writing a post about investing money right now.  I may have married a financial analyst but I’m not ready to come at you with my money savvy just yet. As I’ve learned the ins and outs of investing, I am starting to see that investing translates into all areas of my life.

We get the chance to invest in a lot of different people, places and plans. Some of us are naturally good at spreading ourselves out evenly. Others flounder under the pressure to be “all the things” to everyone they encounter.

You can’t be all the things to all the people. I learned that lesson 2 years ago and I honestly gain more freedom daily by remembering it. I am not a perfect human. I cannot possibly please every single person in my email inbox. I will let friends down even if I am not trying to. I will forget someone’s birthday and I will live with the rock in my stomach called regret for too long because of it.

You may be investing in a lot of things you don’t even want without being aware of it. You may be so invested in the life of someone else that you are spending all your time comparing, contrasting, and trying to change yourself to be like them.

You may be the person who has a ton of time but never seems to be able to nail it down in one place and make something beautiful happen.

I am finding that to know where I want to invest my life, I must know what I have. I need to be willing to take inventory and then get serious with it. I’m a big believer that God wants us to steward things wisely. Time. Relationships. Money. Work. Sometimes I know God is looking at me like, “What are you doing with your life right now? You have so many things to take care of so why are you asking me for more?” So many of us have a number of these things but we are investing all our energy into only one area and neglecting the rest. On the adverse, if I am investing in too many things (and not enough things whole-heartedly) then my investments will be smaller than Future Me will need them to be.

I took the morning to break my life into three categories I think are worth investing in and jot down some thoughts on each area. Mind you, I am preaching to myself always and often. No perfect people are allowed on this blog. This is a perfectly safe haven for jacked-up and jankety humans who fail a dozen times before breakfast (just me?). 

Invest in People: because yes, they are always worth it.

  • I made a list of the 10 people I want to be investing in consistently. Ten looks like a large number but I don’t know how to narrow the list just yet. These people are a combination of friends living near me and friends far away. They are friends I’ve had for years and people I’m looking to start investing in deliberately starting just this month. Ways I plan to invest: workout dates, trips to the farmer’s market, meal-prep tutorials, unofficial book clubs and study sessions. I could always meet up for coffee with people but I think it’s really beautiful and underrated to invite someone into the folds of your life and say, “participate with me.”
  • If you are going to try to invest in everyone you’ve ever met then prepare yourself to see disappointment showing up at your door a lot. A lot of you said the last post on heartbreak resonated with you because it wasn’t romantic relationships you were struggling with, it was friendships with people you’d invested in for years. I know that feeling. It’s not pretty and it’s not something you really want to highlight for the world to see. People come in and out of our lives all the time. Some stay for good. Some leave sooner than we planned. I don’t have all the answers for that but I can say this: letting someone go so you can protect your heart and find some space to breathe is not the same thing as giving up on them.
  • In these crazy political times, it might be tempting to want to spend all your energy making people agree with you. Somehow our social media platforms became a tool for dividing rather than connecting in the last few months. We can’t make everyone agree with us. No matter what is happening in the government, people in your life still need you like they needed you yesterday. Maybe even more. As people are scared, hurting, and unsure right now, the only way to love them through it is by putting down the devices.
  • Investigating someone’s life is not the same thing as investing in someone’s life. I cannot just “like” my friend’s status and think it makes up for an in-person conversation. If likes, retweets and stats have ever made you feel empty inside then consider that you might not be the only one to ever feel that way. Investing in someone’s life is rough and tumble but durability through the storms beats loneliness any day.

Invest in Projects: because work matters.

  • I want to be a good steward with any work that goes out into the world. Believe me, there are definitely days where I don’t want to invest in the project at hand. It may be an unruly client, a problem I can’t seem to fix or monotonous and thankless work. When I finally get over my pity party then it’s time to get back to work. I can’t be a quitter just because I don’t like what is on the menu today.
  • It’s easy to neglect the work you’ve been given to do because it isn’t glamorous enough or Instagram-able for the moment. Somehow we got this idea stuck in our brain that if the work wasn’t pretty then it was meant for someone else. That’s definitely not the mantra our grandparents held. I know we are growing up in a different world where this idea of “doing what you love” has been thrust upon us but I also think there is a time to do what you love and a time to do what is necessary. Life will hold a lot of necessary work that won’t seem pretty. If you do the work though, you’ll grow. You’ll be stronger. You’ll gain thicker skin.
  • One more thought on that: I was reading in John 15 the other day. It’s the passage about us being the plant and God being the gardener. He says he prunes off all the vines that aren’t bearing fruit. Translation: all the excess stuff that doesn’t help us become humans who don’t lie all the time, cuss people out on the highway, or don’t know how to love instead of hate. I dug deeper to find that the goal of pruning the branches (where fruit grows) is so that the branches will not become long and stringy. They will become thick and short. It seems like a pretty insignificant detail until you realize that you can grow fruit on long and stringy branches anytime but it is only a matter of time before those branches snap, break, and become useless because they can’t support the fruit they’re trying to hold up. Just like us: we become better humans by allowing the pruning process to happen. When we release our pride, our ego, that thing that tells us “this isn’t cool enough work,” then we can finally get over ourselves and do good work. We can handle more fruit.

Invest in Plans: because plans imply action.

  • I like the word “plans” more than “passions.” I can talk a lot about my passions but it won’t mean anything if I never plan to make time for them. Plans are action steps. They are things you are going to do rather than things you always talk about but never do. I’ve said it so much lately but I am terrified to get to the end of my life and realize I was just a spectator, a spectator in a life that demanded all the attention I could never give it. You will lose so much of your life if you only ever watch other people live theirs.
  • I chose “plans” over “things” because I always want to value experiences over new Nike sneakers or the latest phone to come out. Going places > buying more stuff.
  • Plans were my favorite part of this mapping process because I’ve recently fallen in love with the pockets of time in my calendar that aren’t working hours. I plan to read books, take longer walks, drink more water and cook more ambitious dishes. I plan to finish this memoir on Savannah before Lane and I visit again in April. I plan to map out the birthdays of all the people who matter in my life to get back in the habit of sending cards. Anticipation is a really sweet thing and a really good feeling to share with other people.
  • Every couple of months, I pluck this book off my bookshelf. I don’t think anyone should go all of 2017 without buying this book and then highlighting the snot out of it. In his chapter on recapturing time, MacDonald writes, “One needs to ask, what are my nonnegotiables? I have discovered that most of us who complain we are disorganized simply do not know the answer to this question. As a result, the important functions that will make the supreme difference in our effectiveness miss getting into the calendar until it is too late. Disorganization and frustration; the non-essentials crowd into the date book before the necessities do.” If we don’t map out our own plans deliberately, months will fly by on the calendar and there will be nothing to show for it.

Curious today: What are some of the plans, projects and people you want to invest in this February? Comment below and I will be reading! 

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23 thoughts on “Notes from an investor: people, projects, plans.

  1. This is such an inspiring post. Thank you – really needed to read something like this on this particular day. 🙂

  2. One big plan I’m investing in is going to California for the National Student Leadership Conference. It is a very big honor to be invited there, but was unsure of my abilities to be away from home that long and to be able to afford it. After encouragement from my family, I plan on facing my fears and working hard to be able to attend in the summer 🙂

  3. 1. Investing in my time with God, I am reading through the book of revelation this quarter + praying + a Bible Study group,
    2. Investing in reading and writing more opeds/blog posts
    3. Investing in me (my JOY, my love)

  4. My problem is I have too many plans and I’m not sure which way to direct my attention! But I am thinking of you when I need motivation and a little boost in my hustle. PS My birthday is May 3rd and I would swoon so hard over a birthday card from your beautiful self!

  5. Such gold HB! I needed this today – reading this made me realize I’ve been investing in the wrong things in life – more attention in my work than in my tribe; more attention in my anxiety than in what sets my heart on fire. The only thing I’ve been investing well in is my quest to adventure more. Here’s to finding my non-negotiable this month!

    On another note – I would LOVE to know what website you are using for your retirement planning and the app for your investments. One of my goals for 2017 is to get my financial life in order and retirement planning is #2 on that list, just under pay off all my loans.

  6. Someday, I would love love love to grab coffee with you and talk. Especially because I invest in people for a job (#ministry) and discipleship is one of my main passions!!! Yup. That’s it. Thanks for being you, and inspiring the best in others:)

  7. Thank you for sharing on what we investing daily. I read it again to absorb and start doing.
    Definitely I make your site my favourite daily read
    👍👍👍

  8. “I could always meet up for coffee with people but I think it’s really beautiful and underrated to invite someone into the folds of your life and say, ‘participate with me.’”

    Amen! As a former missionary whose job was investing in people, coffee dates got old REAL fast. One of the most important lessons I learned was to invite people ALONG. I found that bonds form more quickly and securely when the relationship is built in motion, in the rhythms of real life. Not just at a coffee shop.

  9. Big plans…just to try to read some scripture every day. A little effort that will have a big impact.

    Little plans…to send a care package to my grandchildren (one of my priorities) and to finish a scrapbook for my parents’ anniversary. Little projects with big impacts.

    Makes me feel good to write it here. I can see that these things will matter both in giving me pleasure in the short-term and “bearing fruit” in the long-term.

  10. I love the intentionality of this! I am going to sit down this week and figure out exactly what people I want to be investing in, at least one project I will invest in throughout this year (out of the many causes I claim to be passionate about but never actually invest), and write down plans for the experiences and essential life moments I want to make happen. Thanks for sharing this post. I think this is way better than writing resolutions, instead I will be deciding what is worth investing in this year to me.

  11. PAULA-I think it is Gordon MacDonad-Ordering Your Private World-not sure though. Great stuff to think about here-thanks HB!

  12. As a newlywed I’m going to be investing heavily in my marriage. I also want to start working out again, ensuring that I invest in my love of writing and reading, and continuing recovery.

  13. I’m focused on investing in my existing relationships. I’m a driven person always looking to accomplish something and sometimes I neglect my relationships because I’m focused on achieving other things. I’m also focused on growing my personal finance blog and investing time in that community to learn and grow and help others.

  14. Very well said! This year I am focusing on 7 areas of growth in my life: spiritual, career, family, financial, intellectual, physical and social. I think your post is a great road map to making them happen! Taking time to slow down and just enjoy life experiences with others is such a joyful experience, although sometimes it can be messy. However, I really believe that it makes for the best memories and really shapes us the most!

  15. Passions and plans I can nail down! I’m a pretty motivated self-starter and I can always find things to work on on my own.

    It’s the investing in people part that always stumps me. I think subconsciously, I’m still afraid to be vulnerable around others and it reflects in my interactions (or lack of) unfortunately 😦

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