Emotional ROI | A True Return on Your Investment

The Business Case

How and why do companies measure their return on investment?

Businesses and savvy professionals seem to obsess over the concept of ROI – return on investment. Companies want to see that the money they spend is also adding to their profits.

Example: Purchasing a new copy machine that prints duplex cuts down on the use of paper, therefore reducing expenditure over time. The upfront cost of the new copier is proven to pay for itself over time, and then some.

The Human Case

How and why should we measure our return on emotional investment?

Our thoughts determine our emotions and actions, AND our emotions determine our thoughts and actions. How can both statements be true? Thoughts, actions and emotions all require a conscious investment of our energy. Our thoughts and emotional responses are all within our control. The trick is to recognize whether your emotions are triggering your thoughts, or if your thoughts are triggering your emotions.

The good news is that we get to choose. It takes time and practice to develop this level of self-awareness, but once you have, you can take charge of your emotional investment. You’ll be able to recognize the patterns of thoughts and emotions that do not serve you, and create new patterns that do.

My Case

One example of an emotional investment would be allowing yourself to be vulnerable in a situation where you would normally assert yourself. This creates a shift in the dynamic of the typical exchange, which will impact everyone involved. For me, I used to need to plan everything. Recently I’ve invested my energy into becoming more spontaneous. While this is draining at times, the resulting return on my emotional investment has been amazing.


We all know what it is like to be drained or energized by a person or situation.

Think of a person or situation that drains you. This could be a friend, co-worker or position you hold at work. If you are thinking of multiple examples, just pick one for now. (wink)

Consider why it is that you get drained:

  • Are you attached to the idea of a particular experience or outcome?
  • Are you expecting to be drained before you even are?

Consider what you can do differently to limit/preserve your emotional investment:

  • Do you really have to engage at the level you normally do?
  • What would happen if you made yourself vulnerable on purpose?

Consider how you can CREATE a return on emotional investment:

  • Would it help to change the way you see and experience the person or situation?
  • What would make the experience mutually beneficial for you AND others?

Some Helpful Tips

Know what you want/need, and be willing to authentically ask for it. Know your limits, and stretch them. Don’t be overly attached to specific outcomes. Be open to both disappointment and unexpected surprises. Choose to believe that whatever happens, it will ALL serve you.