If you want to get ahead in life, there are a few things that are pretty hard to negotiate, and one of those is to make sensible investments. Now I’m obviously not an investment broker or financial adviser, but I do know one thing: Every investment is risky.
If you put all your money into Woolworths at one point then you’d have been very rich, but then those same investments all of a sudden became worthless almost overnight as the company crashed.
If you decided to invest heavily in MiniDisk players it would have seemed like the best idea ever, until MP3 players and ultimately iPods came over the horizon and squashed it.
Some investments can pay huge, of course. The last time I looked, £20 invested into BitCoin a few years ago would be worth over 50 times that now, but very few people took it up. Why? Because we all know that investments of this kind rarely, if ever pay off and when they do it’s more down to luck than good judgement or planning.
With that said, there is one thing that’s absolutely certain – investing in yourself is really, really worth doing: it’s safe and reliable, and the return is almost always pretty immediate. This investment doesn’t need to be financial, either. Investing in yourself by planning in an extra hour of sleep will make a huge difference to how you feel the next day, the way you perform and your potential to make an impact on others, on the world and on your bank balance. Investing in yourself by taking some time and learning 3 new recipes will make eating healthier easier and more interesting – paying you back in terms of physical health, and potentially in your relationship if you cook for a significant other, not to mention the enjoyment that cooking fresh food can bring during the process itself.
Even if you learn something useless, such as the fact that a barnacle has a penis that is 40 times the length of it’s own body, then your life is a little richer. Even if you learn how to do something like DIY and you suck at it, there’s still more than a small chance that you’ll be able to laugh about it with people and so again – your life will be a little better.
We should never feel bad for investing in ourselves. This is something that seems intuitively true but due to the culture of selflessness and modesty that us British types seem to adopt a lot of the time, it’s something that we tend to ignore. We flinch at hearing that a gym is £75 per month but don’t bat an eyelid at spending that and more for a meal out with our friends for one of their birthdays. We’ll agonise over whether we should buy ourselves new pair of shoes because the ones we have are uncomfortable, but then spend 4 times the amount that they would cost on a spa trip for someone else.
Being selfish has a bad name, but in many instances it’s not really deserved. In fact, there are three key areas in life that you should invest in yourself: your health, your future and your skills. Here’s why…
Investing in your health
If you’re reading a BTN Blog then the chances are I’m preaching to the choir here, but investing in your health is probably the best thing you can do if you are interested in getting big returns for small inputs. Just 30 minutes of exercise per day is enough to take you out of the high risk category for most modern non-communicable diseases, and if you add 60 minutes of resistance training 2-4 times per week to that then you’ll bulletproof your skeleton (not literally…), reduce your chances of non-communicable disease about as much as you can do, and probably gain a lot of self-esteem to boot.
Invest the time to meditate or practice yoga if you can. The yoga will improve your mobility, of course, but doing both of these can also massively help with minimising stress and increasing subjective wellbeing. 10 minutes per day of focusing on nothing but your breath is a small ask, but it can play dividends.
Invest in dental care. A twice yearly checkup isn’t much, and it will allow you to find early all the things that can cause a ton of pain (and financial burden) down the line.
Invest 5 minutes into taking care of your hands if you lift weights a lot. Chalk ruins hand skin and dry callouses get raggy – tear one of them suckers and your training will be hampered for at least a week or two. You more than likely train for 4-5 hours per week, you have 5 minutes to grab a nailfile and keep your callouses flat.
Of course, taking the time to cook and eat well will reduce your disease risk, give you boundless energy and help you look great on the beach, too – but you already knew that.
These things are investments because you are putting time that could have been spent doing something else into trying to improve the future. This isn’t always easy – time commitments are probably the single greatest hurdle that people face when it comes to getting involved with health and fitness and I don’t for a second think that this is an excuse or a cop out. Personal trainers can always tout the fact that a one hour workout three times per week is only 2.4% of your life, but that percentage quickly grows when you factor in showers, commuting and everything else that’s involved. Some people literally don’t have that time to spend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Investing 15 minutes into doing a short, hard bodyweight circuit in your living room isn’t perfect but it’s a damn good start and a hell of a lot better than nothing. It may not be ideal to eat the same lunch every day but if batch cooking a healthy stew on a Sunday gives you lunches for the whole week then so be it. As with any investment, don’t put in more than you can afford – but don’t ever think that a small investment in your health is wasted because it’s not “enough”.
Investing in your future
One of the biggest issues that dogs modern people is stress, and one of the leading causes of stress is financial worry. Literally investing in yourself if you are able to do so is one of the answers here (though of course not the only one). Ensuring that you have some kind of retirement fund in place, and keeping a little nest egg for when the boiler breaks or your car falls to pieces alleviates all of that almost immediately. Again, I’m no financial advisor and I don’t pretend to be one on the internet. I’m also not even 30 yet so I don’t really know anything about anything, but I can say that saving as much of your monthly money as you can reasonably and comfortably afford to save is a pretty good move. I’ll recommend the book “The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn't Have to Be Complicated” for more easy as hell advice on personal finance – it’s a short read and really impactful. Ok, back to stuff I’m actually qualified to talk about.
Invest in yourself – you’re worth it.
Investing in new Skills
This is the one area that I think most people kinda know about but rarely pay attention to. Regardless of your aspirations, it’s incredibly unlikely that what you know and are able to do right now is going to be enough for the rest of your life. As the world becomes more and more automated, careers are becoming more and more specialised, so it’s hugely worthwhile to diversify your abilities while also becoming better and better at what you do now.
That means you really need to keep up with your CPD and self-education. Find your weak point and take the time and use the resources to get better at it. With that said, don’t just learn skills for the sake of it – while every investment in yourself is worthwhile, some things are more worthwhile than others and you only have a limited amount of time to devote to self-development, meaning you need to choose wisely. There’s an online meme that CEO’s read 60 books a year, and I’m going to call BS on that – CEO’s don’t just arbitrarily read a bunch of stuff, they read one thing, assess it, implement it and then move on when they need to – you should do the same. Books are the cornerstone of learning, but in my eyes you can’t beat a guided course. Why? Because learning isn’t about remembering facts, it’s about being able to integrate knowledge into what you already know and about understanding your new knowledge well enough to be able to implement it effectively. Some books will allow you to do that but most will not, so combining reading with active human-led teaching bridges the gap entirely. This is why University is far more effective and therefore prestigious than independently buying textbooks.
When choosing a course, one more time – choose wisely. Right now you can do a PT course for about 40 quid on Groupon, and I believe I saw a nutrition course on there for a similar price. Sure, you could do one of those, but would that really get you the outcome you want?
Again we’re back to the difference between acquiring information and learning a skill – generally speaking the latter is going to cost you more than the former in terms of time or finances, so while doing a guided course like the Body Type Nutrition Academy is going to cost a lot more than a crappy Groupon offer and it’ll take you a year rather than a couple weeks, it’s going to actually help you develop the skills you need to improve your service and therefore make happier clients and more money.
If you want to learn biomechanics you could potentially buy a textbook, or watch some free videos on YouTube, sure – but investing in a course will allow you to ask questions, talk to your tutor and figure out exactly what your new knowledge means.
If you want to increase your programming knowledge you could buy a book or read some blogs, but how much better do you think attending a weekend seminar with a top S&C coach could be?
Becoming a better practitioner takes time. Learning how you can diversify your services takes time, too, but the investment is worth it because the return is reliable and fast.
Invest in yourself – you’re worth it.