The 5 Best Ways to Invest in Yourself


Is time running out?

You are your greatest investment.  The better the things you put into yourself the greater your returns are going to be.  At least, that’s how I look at it.

It’s typical to think of investment as just stocks, bonds and mutual funds.  But that’s too narrow a definition of investment for me.  I like to think of investment as something you can do for yourself right now that will cause you to get a much better life in the future.

Return on Investment

So with this new way of thinking about investment, you should be asking if you are investing enough in yourself.  Is there something you could be doing right now to get a good return on your investment in the future?

Well, there are a lot of things you could be doing right now.  But I’d say that most of them aren’t really that great of investments.  After all, you could invest some of your time to watching TV, but it isn’t likely to do much for you after it’s all over.

But there does seem to be five general things you can do to make your life better.

1. Learn more

Getting a good education is important.  I could list off the statistics of how much more money a college graduate earns or the billions of dollars the US spends on education every year.  But really this is something you’ve probably already heard before.

What really needs more attention is the idea of self-learning.  Many people seem to think that all learning starts and stops at the school’s door.  But there is a lot of value you can find through learning in your own free time outside the school system.

Becoming a smarter person can be valuable.  It can make you look at the world in new ways and see opportunities for yourself that you might not otherwise see.  Knowing just a little more than usual can give you the advantage you need to get to where you want to be.

Investment ideas: books, documentaries, lectures, intelligent conversation, the news

2. Find more free time

I sometimes think that free time has a bad reputation.  Many people seem to think that too much free time means you’re somehow less valuable or important.  I can’t stress enough how much I disagree with that point of view.

Free time is where life happens.  It’s the space between commitments and work where the most valuable memories are created.  It’s free time that allows you to go on trips, have lunch with a friend or read a good book.

Creating more free time means you get to experience those things much more.  More free time allows you to pursue your passions or explore the world.  When you’re too busy with commitments and work, you’re missing out of all of those things.

Investment ideas: reduce time at work, prioritize your tasks, say no to some requests, avoid social media, turn off the TV

3. Achieve goals

Everyone has goals they want to accomplish before they die.  Perhaps you even have a bucket list full of things you want to do.  So putting some time and effort into getting those things done would really pay off.

It doesn’t matter if those goals are to become an actor or learn a new language.  You’ll feel better when you put the time and energy towards completing those things.  The big payoff to all that effort will be when you can look back on your life and realize you put positive steps in making those things happen.

Investment ideas: start a bucket list, make a New Year’s resolution, make time for goals

4. Become healthier

Health can benefit your life in many ways.  A healthy life can mean a longer life you can put towards pursuing your goals or passions.  You’ll have a much wider range of physical things you can do with your life too.  Being physically fit, you can participate in activities like marathon running or mountain climbing.

Eating right and getting enough exercise can give you more energy to do everything you want to do.  It can also give you more mental prowess.  It’s really an investment area with the most potential to improve all the other areas of your life.

Investment ideas: go to the gym, eat healthier, go running, cut out fast food

5. Save more money

Saving money is still an important way to invest.  After all, you can’t really do much with your life if you are bogged down by debt and bills.  Finding the right balance to paying your bills and saving a surplus of cash is important.

You really can’t do much without money.  That’s why it is important to invest in the time to find a stable income that allows you to save a portion of money without having to borrow.  Sometimes that means being more careful with how you spend your money and avoiding purchases that won’t really be worthwhile.

Investment ideas: pay down debt, cut monthly expenses, don’t use credit cards

Good Investments

Spending just a little amount of time on each of these investments can mean big gains for you in the future.  They are the areas that offer the biggest payoffs.  You’ve already invested a lot into your life; why not invest a little more.
photo credit: thinkpanama

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  1. Not to sound like a stalker or agree with everything you say. but.. i absolutely agree with everything you pointed out on this list. Self learning especially. I talked about it in my last post. But self learning was what gave me a chance to increase my salary during my corporate years and switch industries. I could have been stuck at a job i hated otherwise.

    Goals are my second favorite on your list. I’m currently tackling these right now and the sense of accomplishment as i finish a goal is amazing.
    T.V. what’s that? I have hulu and watch it late at night if i can’t sleep or have nothing to do. Honestly, all these reports that say people watch 10 or 20 hours of T.v per week freak me out. How is that possible?
    Anyways, great post.

  2. Hi Steve,
    I value my time the same way. I don’t commit myself to things, people, projects that have a bad ROI. Everything about us needs to be valued accordingly including ourselves.

    Once we do this our life begins to magically transform.

  3. Hey Steve,

    it’s a beautiful post, though I have to respectfully disagree (just a tiny bit) these are the Best 5. Mainly goals. Despite being a coach, sometimes I have to say I have a problem with goals. Goals are not always the right answer, They often are but if we are too focussed on goals we forget to enjoy the present. That’s my view anyway. Goals only where they are needed. I would happily swap your point 3 with ‘Spend more time doing the things you love’ – I do completely agree on the value of free time but not sure if you were saying do the things you love with that point.

    I realise I’m therefore disagreeing with Annie too which I really don’t want to do either but I can’t help it here, I just wouldn;’t have goals in my top 5 because they are not always the best idea. Not always and not for everyone. They might make my top 10, but not my top 5. Forgive me, I know this is your top 5 but I’m just trying to add to the conversation. Still your top 5. Tell me to shove off if you like.

    also I’d swap save money with ‘live within your means’ – then you remove the stress of needing to afford anything, ever. If you spend less than you earn, then you’re done. If that’s not enough you need to find a way to earn more before you spend it, not the other way around. Just don’t see debt/credit as an option.

    and if I can add a point 6 it would be something about enjoying life & living in the moment (if I’m still allowed after bending your points 3 & 5 😉

    great post and really well written!! love it love it love it,

    take care,

  4. Hi Steve,

    I loved the point you made about free time. I spent years doing this until around 2 years ago. If I had too much free time, I would feel guilty and think I should be doing things. These days I like to spend free time actually ‘living’ in terms of being in the present moment and trying to fully enjoy whatever I may be doing, even if that includes just sitting! :-)

  5. My favorite is ‘learn more’. I’ve been in a serious documentary mood lately and have been watching lots! And I tell you the day the return on investment on my (way overpriced) private school education happens, I’m going to have a party. :)


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