Investing in yourself is the best thing you can do for yourself, not just for the future returns but also because of the current payoffs. Investing in yourself can take several forms but at its core it serves to increase your human capital. Wikipedia defines human capital as:
“The stock of knowledge, habits, social and personality attributes, including creativity, embodied in the ability to perform labor so as to produce economic value”
In life, I’ve realized that a lot of us simply do not spend the time or money needed to invest in ourselves (the only one guaranteed investment in life) instead we give money to others by investing in the stock market, the latest gadgets, the newest cars, better homes, and so on – items that depreciate, or have wildly volatile returns. And all of this is fine and great, but imagine what could happen if we actually spend more of our time and money figuring out what values, skills, ideas, and potential we possess and going a step further to develop or master them to create results!
Investing in yourself is not just about going to school to get a job or finding ways to increase your current salary, it is about ways to be more productive, and to add value to your community. If you develop yourself, you will likely not need to worry about your next job. Do you think Mark Zuckerberg or Elon Musk worry about what their next jobs will be, even if all their companies fail and they become bankrupt? No, they don’t! If all else fails, within a week they will be back on their feet with new projects and money in the bank, not because they have people who will throw money at them (yes, that helps too), but because they have invested in themselves, developed themselves and found ways to add value to people wherever they find themselves.
To explain this better let’s take a look at an example: Steven and Jack are both 27 year old guys, who went to the same college, and happen to work for the same consulting company.
Steven spends a lot of time making sure he is saving all he can for his retirement. He budgets well, lives frugally, and spends 60% of his income on bills, saves about 30% of his income for retirement and 10% for planned spending (new car, laptop, gadgets etc).
Jack spends a lot of time developing his skills. Every time he gets off work, he tries to attend networking events, or night classes to learn more about what he is interested in. When he cannot get access to free learning resources online or in the library, he pays a pretty penny to take online courses offered by local universities, and spends a lot of money on books, and so on. As a result of this, he can only afford to save 10% of his income each month.
Who do you think will likely have a higher earning potential after 10 years or will attain financial freedom faster?
Jack, of course!
Jack takes the time to develop his person, and focuses on passion projects – his interests and his ideas matter more to him than any index fund or stock that any investment professional throws his way. Now, I’m not saying investing or saving is bad (they are very important); I’m simply rooting for people to invest more time and money in their person; as this will bring the greatest returns than anyother (well, most) investments!
So how can you invest in yourself?
1. Develop skills/ continue learning:
One thing that all successful people have in common, is the idea that continuous learning is important! They never stop learning and they never ever think they know “too much” about something. How else do you think that someone like Elon Musk can move from payments (PayPal) to electric/ self-driving cars (Tesla) to solar energy (Solar City) and then to space travel (SpaceX)! This is only through continuous learning and development. In a world where there are so many ways to learn cheaply, you have no excuse!
2. Take care of your mind and body:
Taking care of your mind and body is probably the most important thing. You need to eat well, exercise, and reflect so that you can perform optimally. I know it’s easier said than done; but it can start with something as small as eating a healthy breakfast, or drinking more water!
3. Find out your purpose:
Finding out what your purpose on earth is, is important because it will give you all the energy you need for everything you do! If you know why you do your work, it will be easier to get motivated. I always tell my friends (and myself, by extension); that they are not lazy, they are just uninspired/ unmotivated. Finding out your purpose or your why is not easy! But by reflecting, and by trying to find this out intentionally it will be easier to know this.
So tell me, what steps are you taking to invest in yourself?