Most people will spend $50 on dinner and a drink this weekend but hesitate to spend $25 two times for books that could alter the course of their lives.
Most people dream of $4,000 vacations, but couldn’t imagine spending that much on a coaching program.
Anyone can admit that their extraneous expenses — an extra drink here, a little shopping there—could amount to $120 over the course of 4 weeks, but would call that much for a quality gym membership too expensive.
Successful people don’t just invest in their businesses, they invest in themselves.
That’s because how you invest your time, and your money, is how you invest in your future. How you invest in yourself is how you invest in your life.
How to make a wise self-investment
The mark of a good investment is that it pays for itself over time, and then, far exceeds your initial contribution.
That’s why so many people are questioning the idea that student debt is inherently “good debt.” That’s only the case, some experts argue, if you graduate making an annual take-home salary that’s close to, if not more, than the total of your loan balance.
Where most people are stuck is that they can’t see the long-term investment of investing in themselves. There’s no prospectus to see how an online course or or a few workout classes a week will impact your life long-term. So instead of investing in what seems like a presently tedious, and potential dead end, people invest in what generates immediate reward.
How you invest your time and your money is how you invest in your life.
If you contribute to worrying, you’re investing in anxiety.
If you contribute to procrastination, you’re investing in fewer returns.
If you contribute to poor eating, you’re investing in poor health.
However, it can work the opposite way, too. Contributing to your personal website is investing in potential new clients. Contributing a few pages written is investing in your future book. Contributing to one workout class is investing in your physical health and endurance.
Will you see an immediate reward? No, but that’s how investments work. You can’t throw $100 in the stock market this morning and expect it to gain a significant return by the evening.
It’s about the long-term return, not the immediate gratification.
“I can get by without this”
The biggest obstacle that prevents people from investing in themselves is necessity.
When you have a tight budget, you’re forced to weed down your wants vs. your needs. You see, pretty quickly, that your needs are pretty minimal. Your wants, however, are a towering stack of ideas that can easily wreck you if you aren’t principled about it.
So many self-investments are non-necessities, if you’re thinking of your life in terms of sheer survival.
Do you need organic food to get by? Of course not. Do you need advanced workout classes? Of course not. Do you need a coach? Of course not. Do you need to read another book this week? Of course not.
This is the mindset of someone who is stuck in “survive.” Investing is a matter of doing what it would take to thrive.
In the same way that you wouldn’t invest money you need to put food on the table, most people often won’t invest in themselves if they have other needs that have to be taken care of first.
However, almost everybody then spends their discretionary income not on resources that will move their lives forward, but things that will make them feel better in the moment.
If you can find the cash to do such and such a thing that you know is also a non-necessity and contributes very little to your life, you don’t have a budget problem, you have a priority problem.
There’s no one singular thing that is the “right” personal investment for you.
The honest truth is that maybe, a weekly massage is the right personal investment for you, as it would reduce your back aches and make you more productive. It could be more education, or it could not. It completely depends on your personal goals, and current situation.
To determine what is a wise investment for yourself, start with the following:
- What do I want my life to look like in 5, or 10 years?
- What do I want my life to look like at retirement?
- Does my current daily routine support those goals?
- If not, what needs to change, and how can I change it?
Next, you have to remember that your investment needs to be in something that you both believe in, and that is high quality.
You can invest in a rapidly growing stock, but if you don’t really research what the company is about, you could be dismayed to find they flatline or bottom out in a few years because their product is trendy and not timeless.
The same is true with your own self-investments. You can’t just spend your money on any therapist, it needs to be a therapist that specifically understands your needs. It needs to be a coach that can actually help you move your business forward. It needs to be an employee or assistant that gives you more time to create business. It needs to be a kind of exercise you love to do and want to do often.
Eventually, you have to decide you care enough about yourself to invest in who you are.
Because who you are is what your life will be, whether you can see it now or not.