Forget your portfolio: the first and most important investment you need to make is in yourself. You are the single most important asset you have, and the only real tool for creating results that matter. Invest too little in yourself and you’ll fail to develop your full potential, lessening the quality of your results. In fact, unless you actively improve your character traits, skills, and competencies, you’ll stagnate and stall. Investing in yourself is what allows you to become the better version of yourself, the person that comes after the person you are now.
You Were Born a Fixer Upper
You were born a fixer-upper with pure potential, regardless of the circumstances of your birth. Like every other one of the close to eight billion people populating this planet, that potential includes some natural advantages and some natural detriments. To take advantage of your strengths, you need to learn how best to use them to pursue your goals and ambitions. You also have to do something about your weaknesses, especially the vulnerabilities that prevent you from producing the results you need.
Most people go to high school to learn some basic information. Those who keep earning degrees do so partly so they can understand their world better, but mostly so they can get a job, buy a house, get married, have children, and save for retirement. While these are good and necessary investments, they end too soon, and they don't address the limitless possibilities of investing in yourself.
The Difference Between a Book and Netflix
A book costs a lot more than Netflix: for the $25 you pay for a hardback business book, you can get almost three months of Netflix access. Moreover, with the book you must also invest six hours of reading time—much more if you want to learn deeply by taking notes, paraphrasing, and making the content your own.
Netflix, by contrast, is designed for passive entertainment: you lean back, focus on a flickering screen, and lose yourself in the latest drama, comedy, or thriller. While there is nothing wrong with watching a movie or even a whole series, making it a priority is like filling up on dessert before you even touch your entrée. Spending too much time on entertainment means short-changing your education and self-development—and ultimately hurting your competency and your progress. Losing that time will cost much more than nine bucks a month.
Why You Don't Invest in Yourself
Would you invest in a company that did as little as possible to serve their clients, trying to scrape by with the bare minimum of effort and engagement? That behavior might prompt you to short the company’s stock, betting that it will decline in value, but it wouldn’t form the centerpiece of your 401K. Every investor knows that businesses die because they don't change. The same thing can happen to your goals and your results, and for much the same reason.
The fact is that you are a better long-term investment than Google, YouTube, Apple, and even GameStop put together. So what’s stopping you from putting in the time, effort, and money?
People who don't invest in themselves tend to share a few limiting beliefs. First, they believe that they finished their education when they earned their degree, so any further development would be a waste of time. Second, they don’t trust themselves to do the work, especially if they’ve failed before. Third, and perhaps most importantly, they simply don’t believe that they’re a good investment.
You Are Still Pure Potential
You are still pure potential—no matter your age, your status, your income, or your qualifications. You still have the capacity to invest in your own development, to grow in new ways, and to transform yourself, your life, your results, and the contribution you make while you are here. Almost any disciplined effort will improve and shape you: earn a(nother) degree, take a LinkedIn course, learn to code, go from Couch to 5K, master a recipe, or even hone a hobby. You will not only learn something useful about the world around you but also discover something about yourself, something that will improve your results in other areas of your life.
Your growth opportunities are limitless, so start spending time (and money) on yourself. All you ever really have is your time, so make the most of every one of your hours, days, weeks, months, and years.