When we think of investing, our minds automatically turn to meddling with individual stocks or trying to figure out how to make a real estate investment work. While these types of investments are important (and everyone ought to start investing as soon as possible, to grow their wealth over time), it’s even more important to invest in yourself. But what does that even mean? Taking the time to develop your own skills and teach yourself valuable lessons can pay off in the long run. Here are a few ways to make yourself more valuable as an “asset” so that you can maintain your human capital over time.
Learn How Money Works
This isn’t just learning to understand that you need more money coming in than going out. Sure, that’s important too. However, you need to go beyond that simple truth. You need to truly understand how money works.
Learn about interest, risk tolerance, and investing. Learn how to get your money to work for you, rather than always working for your money. Finally, learn how to save (and how those dollars can snowball into a huge sum over time). Once you understand how money works and how it can work on your behalf, you will be more likely to be successful in the long run.
Develop Transferable Soft Skills
One of the best ways to invest in yourself is to develop soft skills. These are qualities that are transferable — no matter who you work for or where you make money. Soft skills are things like good communication, problem solving, and leadership. They can transfer across a wide variety of careers.
You can also translate these soft skills into a side gig (or full-blown business) if an opportunity presents itself down the road. Being able to transfer skills across career fields can make you valuable and marketable. Do your best to improve upon your transferable skills so that you can be an asset no matter where you go. For example, there are groups like Toastmasters that can help you practice your presentation and public speaking skills. There are also writing classes that can help you write more coherently and effectively. Take a couple of them to get started.
Continue to Learn
One of the best things you can do for yourself is to keep learning. Whether you work to acquire new skills, refine your abilities in an area of expertise, or just continue to build up knowledge, it makes sense to invest in a good education. This doesn’t mean you need to go into debt just to go back to college though. There are multiple ways to keep learning.
Education can be helpful to learn more about starting a business or to learn more about something that interests you. Get a certification, finish a degree, or just read up so that you are more knowledgeable about a hobby of interest. If your employer ever offers to send you to a training course of any kind, you should happily accept.
You also want to read a variety of sources, making it a point to consider opposing viewpoints. Continuous learning and critical thinking can help you solve problems with creativity. It can also help you get out of any number of jams with your money.
Build Your Network
Don’t forget to build a network of people you can count on. Your relationships with others can be valuable and make you a more valuable asset. You might be able to find a better job through your network. Your network can also offer professional and personal opportunities to grow and develop.
You might even find a new business partner or opportunity through your network. This is useful even for the employee who isn’t trying to build a business on his or her own. I’ve seen plenty of executives leverage their network to find good vendors or people that will help the company they work for. A network is very valuable. Make it a point to offer value to those around you and you will be investing in yourself and your future down the road.
Invest in Close Relationships
A good support system is vital if you want to succeed in life. With the right support system, you can get through health troubles, emotional difficulties, and even financial problems. Your emotional wellbeing will be improved and you will experience less stress.
Invest in relationships with your friends and family, especially your life partner and your children. You may think you need as many friends as possible, but it’s actually better to take the time to develop a few deep and meaningful relationships. When it comes to your social circle, quality beats quantity. Make the effort to reach out to your friends and you will enjoy a better life.
Don’t Neglect Your Health
You can take better advantage of opportunities if you are in good health. Work to improve your health this year and you will have more energy with a sharper mind. You should exercise more, but don’t forget to eat better as well.
Make a plan to eat more healthy meals by making more meal at home. The side benefit of cooking is that you are standing up and doing something physical instead of sitting around even more than you need to. The difference may seem small but any activity helps over time.
As part of investing in your health, you should also sleep better. You need to reduce your stress level in order to improve your health and that includes getting enough hours of bedtime. Your mind will work better and your emotional state will be improved.
Create a Side Hustle
Everyone should try to develop a side hustle. That’s because having an additional income stream is such a stress reliever. And plus, extra money is helpful to just about everyone.
Whether it’s walking the neighbor’s dogs, teaching a class online, or selling crochet beanies you’ve made in your spare time, a side hustle can keep your mind sharp and provide you with some side income to boot.
Take Time to Recharge
It’s an investment in yourself to take time to recharge. Burnout can affect your career, your life, and your relationships. Make it a point to relax and allocate time to yourself so that you can get good rest. Exercising has the benefit of helping you feel more relaxed, so start there. Other things that’s helped plenty of people is to dedicate time to stretch or even meditate.
People who care about their finances tend to always talk about trying to save more money, but make sure you aren’t always sacrificing your life today for a potentially better tomorrow. As with anything, you need to strike a balance. Save for tomorrow but also make an effort to treat yourself today.
Invest Time to Learn a New Hobby
One good way to spend on yourself is to develop a new hobby. These days, most hobbies need tools, equipment, or a class or two to get started. Allow yourself to learn something new that you will enjoy spending time on. Don’t see it as a money waster, but as a way for you to feel recharged and ready to tackle the struggles of life that will come from time-to-time.
Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional self so that you are better able to handle problems should they arise in the future.
Invest in Your Future
Speaking of the future, look ahead to what you want to accomplish down the road. Consider what plans you can make to reach your objectives. If you need a certain certification or if you need to make a plan to start a business, figure out how you can make it happen.
Look at your current financial situation and decide how you can improve, whether it’s trying to pay down debt faster or figuring out a way to increase your income. Start now to take the steps to prepare for what’s next. This is an investment that can pay off big down the road.
Don’t Forget Actual Investing
Finally, let’s circle back on traditional wealth investing. Investing in stocks, bonds, and other investments are still a way to invest in yourself too. When you learn how to grow your money, that means less of your livelihood is dependent on that paycheck. Money brings with it a certain amount of freedom. As you accumulate more, you’ll get a taste of the promised land of financial independence.
That’s why I’ve never seen saving money as a sacrifice. To me, the best thing money can buy is freedom. And when you have it, you will feel more relaxed. Invest for the long term and you’ll be investing in yourself too.
The Bottom Line
You are your best asset. Take a step back and determine what you can do to improve yourself. Do it today. Improve your mind and your physical health and create a support system. Plan for the future. Figure out what you need to do in order to change your course.
When you take the time to improve yourself, you will receive big dividends that keeps on giving. Just like they say with an education, no one can take away what you invest in yourself. When you make the effort, the benefits are all yours.