On this blog, I talk a lot about equity (stocks, bonds) investments you can make with your money. However, that’s not the only type of investment you can make – you can also invest in yourself! My friend Kraken Fireball from FireballFinances.com is here to share with you the best ways to invest in yourself!
Investing in Yourself: The Best Investment On The Market
When was the last time you learned something new and used that knowledge to make money? If you’re a college graduate you probably did this in your early twenties. You spent time, and most likely a severe amount of money to achieve higher education. Then, you got out of college and got a job that paid far more than one you could have gotten without that education. For four or more years of your life, you were investing in yourself. Have you invested in yourself since then?
College is a no-brainer for most people. It’s the next logical step to improve our education and position in life. Unfortunately, after college, most people’s learning process stops. This halt in learning is a tragedy because no 24 year old knows everything. Sure some people might go to a conference, or pick up a nonfiction book every once in awhile. However, these are once in a blue moon experiences.
Think about how thrilling it is to read an applicable book, or attend a quality conference with other people in your field. You feed off of their energy, and you agree with what the author is saying. You walk away with pages of notes and what happens next? None of the notes are reviewed, and none of the action steps in the book are completed.
I do the same thing sometimes, and it’s detrimental. It hurts my ability to earn more. Additionally, I don’t improve in areas of my life where I need to. If I worked in the corporate world, it could lead to career stagnation and lower earnings.
You may be in frown town right now worried that this is starting to sound like you. I didn’t want it to be me, so I began to take the time to invest in myself massively, and not just passively invest. I’ve built a system that has enabled me to earn more money and skyrocket my self-learning.
By investing in yourself, you can learn things in your area of interest, meet with high-quality people and propel yourself to new heights of success. Most people stop investing in themselves in their 20s. This undervalued investment is what can set you apart from the pack. Jim Rohn said, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune.” I don’t know about making a fortune yet, but I do know how to self-educate. I want to teach you how to do so below.
Where to Start Investing in Yourself
There are dozens of places to start when investing in yourself. You could go on a ten-day meditation retreat, or sign up for a $2,000 online course. Hiring a life coach or personal trainer are also some places where ordinary people would start. But hot damn, these are expensive and surprisingly not very useful. I’m all about simplicity in starting out. So here are three powerful and nearly free places to start.
Individual Lessons From the Masters
Imagine having access to the top person in your field, or any field you were interested in, and being able to learn from them at your convenience. You could talk to them when waking up or before bed. If you forgot something they said, you could call them up and ask for the quote or lesson again. Of course, this would be for a small fee: a one-time payment between $10 and $20.
With that small investment, you can get all the knowledge an author has on a particular subject any time of day at your continence. They presented the information to you in a compact and precise way, so you don’t waste your time learning their information.
This individual lesson is what books are! Authors spend years, sometimes a lifetime, learning about their subject. Next, they spend more time writing it down into a concise form so that you can learn from them.
Free Online Access
You could have online access to multiple articles that someone wrote by subscribing or reading their blog. This method is where I started. I began by reading Mr. Money Mustache and dozens of other FIRE blogs to learn how to save money and invest it. These lessons lead me to be able to take a year off of work and focus on my passions. Akash read FinancialSamurai, Lendingmemo, and other sites to learn about P2P lending and now gets a return on his money around 8%.
Reading new information pays but only if you take action on it. We will get to this in a bit.
Get Coffee with Top Performers
Imagine that a highly successful individual invites you to coffee with other elite professionals from all over the globe. They talk for hours on various subjects, and you’re welcome to come to the cafe and join them. However there’s a catch, you can’t say a single word. Would you go to get coffee with them?
Who wouldn’t? You can get conversations like these, along with lectures, and stories all on your phone. Not only do you get to sit and listen to a conversation with first class people you also get to listen back to it whenever you want! How powerful is that?
I learned a lot from the Tim Ferriss show, he interviews hundreds of amazing people, and it’s entertaining and extremely actionable.
I’ve become more productive and have even been able to fight off my depression by using some of the techniques he talks about in the show. These lessons have saved me tons of money I might have had to spend on therapy or anti-depressants, not to mention the free encouragement to perform better.
Akash learned from the smart passive income podcast how to get his first 100 subscribers and start this blog. He got all that information for free. But you know what he had to do? Take action on the information he learned.
What You Will Do Different
Listening to podcasts is fine and dandy. Reading books isn’t anything new. Thousands of people are doing exactly these things. Then why are most of these people exactly where they were before they picked up a book?
It’s because after being presented with the valuable information they didn’t do anything with it. Standard readers consume it and enjoy it, but they don’t learn from it. I’m about to ruin your life and show you how to quit reading for entertainment and start reading for knowledge. It’s okay; you will thank me later.
Take the Time to Take Notes
Would you show up to class, listen to the teacher and then walk out without any notes on the lecture and expect to ace the test? Hell no! When I was in college, I took notes like my life depended on it, because it effectively did. When you learn new information, it needs to be written down. There are multiple benefits of writing new knowledge down. Two of these advantages are: being able to reference it quickly later and remembering it better because you merely wrote it down in the first place.
From now on, if you are hoping to learn something from a book you are going to take notes on it. If something interesting pops up, you write it down. When an inspiring quote strikes you, you write it down. Once you find an action step that you need to take in your life, write it down.
This rule applies to books, podcasts, audio books, lectures, YouTube videos, and even meetings with others. By the way, the others will love it that you find their information so valuable you feel like you need to write it down.
Unfortunately, this means that you can’t listen to things in the car, sorry. Sure, you can listen to it for entertainment but know that you’re not learning all of the information you could be. And if that’s not a priority to you, then that’s fine. Investing in yourself is a lot of work and must not be for you.
Take Action on the Things You Learn
Great, now you’re taking notes on what you read. Remember that part where I said, “If you think of an action step that you need to take in your life, write it down?” You’re truly going to need to do it.
Here is the part where you change from being someone who wastes money on investing in yourself to someone who gets a quality education from it. I’m confident 90% of people read action steps in books and skip over them. Honestly, I used to be that person!
The author wants me to write down my five dreams in life, okay I’ll do it later, let’s move on to the next chapter. Guess what! The author based the next chapter on those action steps. The writer is asking you to do the action because they know it is essential to the learning process.
They spent months, or years, editing the book they didn’t just add the words in for fun. Their action steps mean something to the book, and if you’re looking to get the most information out of the book, then you have to do the homework.
Failure to do Homework is Expensive
Having to do the homework is where most people fail in educating themselves. I once took a $2,000 course and didn’t do most of the action steps. The teacher gave specific things for me to do and I didn’t do them. I watched the next lesson in the series, and I didn’t get anything out of the course. Not only did I waste $2,000 but since it was about building an online business and I could have been making money far beyond the initial $2,000 investment.
Since then I have taken other online courses, completed the action steps and made all my money back and then some. Additionally, I’ve gotten job offers and improved my networking and social skills. These are fantastic benefits that will pay me ten fold what I’ve invested in those courses.
Don’t be like I was, be a doer. Complete the assigned homework, and you will see the benefits.
How to Find Quality Investments
As with all investments, we should know what is and isn’t a sound investment. You know wiring a Nigerian prince money is a bad investment. Since you read Akash’s blog, you know some valuable investments already. Investing in yourself can be tricky but if you use focus and mindful consumption you determine which investments are worth your time.
If you are mindfully consuming the content, then there is a good chance that it is valuable to you. Mindfully absorbing material looks like taking notes, sharing and discussing the topics watched with others and breaking broad topics down to understand them deeply. Reality television isn’t considered conscious consumption, sorry. My rule of thumb is that non-fiction television and highly regarded fiction is a good place to start.
A habit that I picked up from a YouTube video about being an accidental creative is having three focuses for your week. The video recommends that you think about and note the top three works you need input on throughout your week. After determining these consider the content you consume through the lenses of your three focuses. I work to make sure that I don’t waste my time by consuming irrelevant media. Typically, if it applies to one of my three focuses, I take the time to take notes and follow through on its action steps.
My three focuses are My Novel, My Blog, and My Freelancing. If I watch a fiction movie or read a fiction book, then I try to understand the story and what is enjoyable and not enjoyable about it. I read other finance and personal improvement blogs to help broaden my understanding of the topics I write about. And I learn about psychology so that I can better serve my freelancing clients. Realistically, I can tie almost everything back to my three focuses. And I do still watch and read things for fun.
The Proper Dollar Amount to Invest in Yourself
That’s a hard question to answer. Some people spend up to $20,000 every year because they see how huge the return is. On the other hand, most people don’t invest more than $100 per year. I suspect this is because they don’t tie what they learn to the results they see.
Honestly, it’s not all about the money. Don’t feel the need to spend money right off the bat. The important thing is to recognize and know that you are investing in yourself. To start off invest your time, once you see the value, then you can (and should) spend money.
If you’ve read to this part in the blog post, then you have already invested time in yourself. Pat yourself on the back! Other forms of investing time in yourself without needing to put a dollar amount to it are: reading a book you’ve already bought, watching a free TED talk and taking notes, listening and following action steps on a podcast, and many more options.
Recognizing a Balanced Self-Investment Portfolio
After taking the action steps start to evaluate the improvement. If you have a great conversation with a friend because you learned something about human psychology, then make a mental note of that. If you received a raise at work because you read a blog post about negotiating your salary, then you should take note of that. Slowly you will start to see how self-education and investing in yourself pays dividends. Unlike Vanguard self-investment doesn’t give you a form at the end of the year telling you how much you gained. On the bright side, the results are everywhere if you look for them.
If, more like when, you feel like you need higher quality paid material then take the time and energy to invest in it. Over time the portion of your income you spend will grow to a balanced amount you believe benefits you.
Calculating the ROI on an Education
ROI is inherently tricky to measure when investing in yourself. This is because everyone sees values differently. However, if you simply start tying successes back to what you’ve learned, then you will correlate those successes with the dollar amount you invest. The success can be in any area of life academics, social, financial, or career. You will quickly realize that the areas that you improve in and succeed at are the places where you took the time to learn.
You might listen to this podcast with Marie Kondo and start tidying up your office area or house. By doing that you will probably feel less stressed and more productive. This result is a hard dollar amount to estimate, but there is no doubt the value is there.
No ROI but Still the Best Investment?
There are a few reasons that I think that investing in yourself is the best investment on the market. I have seen great results in my life from my decisions make the investment. For example, I read how to win friends and influence people, and I used those concepts to win over my girlfriend’s father. There’s no good way to calculate the worth of that, but I saw the correlation and I value having a good relationship with potential in-laws.
Secondly, all successful people I have studied are lifetime learners. Some notable mentions are Tim Ferriss, Jim Rohn, Ramit Sethi, and Mr. Money Mustache. All of these people have also been mention in this post somewhere. It probably isn’t the only factor that brought them to the top in their field, but it is a necessary and fundamental characteristic.
Now you know two wondrous investments to start with: the condensed knowledge of authors, and overhearing conversations with top performers. We talked about how you will be different from other people who invest in themselves by taking notes and taking action. We also talked about using mindful and focused consumption to determine what is a good investment and what isn’t. Then we covered the proper dollar amount to invest. The answer is $0 for now. Finally, we talked about how to essentially determine the ROI of investing in yourself and why despite the hard numbers we still know it’s the best investment.
Honestly, I want to thank you for reading up to this point. Because you’ve made it this far into the post, I want to reward you with my method of effective reading and note taking. It is a compilation of many other systems that I’ve learned and used individually. I’ve joined them together to create a system that works well for me. I want to pass it on to you as a place to star.
Additionally, I want to give you a comprehensive list of the articles, books, and podcasts that I’ve linked to throughout this article. All the content I’ve mentioned I’ve consumed and found helpful to my life. Enter your email below, and you will get access to a two page PDF with all the links and my system for reading effectively.