This is Part 1 of a series.
If you’ve ever invested in your education, working with a coach, or in any sort of training program, it’s likely you’ve asked some version of this question.
You may have asked it on the cusp of going on a vacation, or buying a nice handbag or dress or suit, or a big piece of jewelry.
Almost certainly, it’s come up before you bought your home or a car.
Perhaps you’ve asked it in your doctor’s office.
In countless scenarios, and very often when you’re on the cusp of a big investment, this question lies beneath the surface:
Is it worth it?
Or, maybe you’ve asked the related question:
What’s the potential return on my investment?
It’s one of the most common questions my clients ask me. And it’s one of my favorite topics.
Defining the Terms
Worth vs Value
First, let’s clarify the difference between “worth” and “value.” As I explain to my clients, these are not the same.
Value is based on predefined, objective criteria. In the context of real estate, it’s what an appraiser would determine. In different contexts, value is determined differently. That’s beyond the scope of this discussion.
Worth is subjective, and based on the buyer’s preferences and emotions. Worth is an expression of the buyer’s values and beliefs.
Second, let’s clarify what we mean by “investment.”
Most people instinctively think about money, as that’s the primary currency of our culture. However, investment can include any resource. This includes money, time, attention, focus, energy, and emotion.
The Power of This Question
Before you even address the substance of the question, consider that the context in which you ask “is it worth it?” already reveals your predisposition to one conclusion over another.
Essentially, the context in which you ask this is a portal to illuminating your assumptions, biases, beliefs, and values (i.e., what you value).
It reveals more about you (if you’re the person asking it) than about what you’re evaluating.
Take education. Some people believe that earning a degree from a top university or graduate school is “worth it.” But they balk at investing in a personal development program or hiring a coach.
Other people place a low value on formal education. They believe that going to college is a waste of money and not “cost effective.” For them, money and time are better invested in other forms of education and training.
Who is right?
Each person is making a value judgment about what’s the best use of her resources. Those values are often inherited from family or absorbed from our surrounding culture.
Tips and Actions
The places where you question whether an investment is “worth it?” or make a judgment that something is or isn’t “worth it” are great places for inner work. When you notice yourself in one of these spots, self-inquiry can be a great tool to illuminate your hidden assumptions, biases, beliefs, and values.