Financial writer Leif Kristjansen shares his thoughts on self-investment and why self-development offers the best route to achieving your life goals
We invest in other people’s dreams, goals and financial security every time we make a purchase or consume content. What’s more, we’re quick to cheer on a friend or talk up a colleague when they’re “shooting for the stars” on some goal. However, it’s often a wildly different story when it comes to investing in ourselves.
Why is it so hard to invest in yourself? It’s actually the most lucrative investment you can ever make.
Mostly, we incorrectly assume that we can’t “afford” to invest in ourselves. Affording an investment doesn’t always mean spending money. However, it can.
You see, we’re often cheap with how we allocate our time, resources, beliefs and money because we don’t think it’s “worth it.” Do you really want to say it’s not “worth it” to invest in the only person you actually should be investing in, you?
Yes, it’s as foolish as it sounds.
Here are the excuses people make to justify why they need to be “cheap” with their own value:
Excuse: “I don’t need training or professional support because I can just figure out the solutions own my own.”
Truth: You would have done it already if it was that easy! There’s a reason why professionals are professionals. Being among the rare group that puts the time, energy and dedication into learning a skill is what qualifies a person to demand a pay level that not everybody can demand. You can’t teach yourself what you don’t know! Pay for help.
Excuse: “I don’t have time.”
Truth: You’re wasting time and losing money while your career stagnates from lack of innovation! In fact, we often have less time to do the things we want to do as we get older. That means that procrastination until a “better time” is really just a way to avoid admitting that you’ll never do it!
Excuse: “I don’t have the money.”
Truth: You never will if you’re too afraid to spend money to make money. You need to treat investing in yourself as a return-focused pursuit. Don’t find yourself in the same spot two, five or 10 years from now because you refused to make a small upfront investment for better lifelong income potential and net worth.
Here’s How to Invest in Yourself
Listen, I’m not saying you have to come up with a way to fund an Ivy League education just to be able to enhance your income potential. What I am saying is that putting money or time into learning a new skill that will increase your earning or investing potential is one of the biggest favors you can do for yourself.
You know those excuses we covered? That’s what everyone else is stuck on! By deciding that those excuses are excuses, you’re joining a very small and elite group of people willing to do the work to propel themselves to the next level.
You’d be shocked by how much learning a new skill or getting a fairly inexpensive certification can boost your hiring potential. Here’s what I like for quick skills upgrades that translate to better pay:
- Upgrade your hard skills. Has it been a while since you graduated in your field? Go learn the skills that fresh graduates are showing up with. No industry is the same as it was 10 years ago. In a technical field? Learn a new programming language! It’s always useful!
- Get certifications related to your field. Go on LinkedIn or a similar site to browse resumes to find the certifications being earned by the direct competition in your field.
- Focus on improving your communication and other soft skills. Take a leadership course or work with a mentor before asking for a promotion.
- Do a deep dive on finance and investing by doing your research or taking an online course. You may not need that promotion if you do this right!
Nobody Can Do It for You
Investing in yourself is literally something that only you can do! Now, the goal of learning skills and investing in yourself isn’t just to cross something off your list. You have to commit to it. You have to actually find ways to integrate what you learn into your overall plan for professional success.
The best way to do this is to set goals and dangle a little candy in front of your own eyes. For example, tell yourself that you’ll ask for a raise once you pass a certification test or finish a self-guided online skills course.
The bottom line is that investing in yourself means holding your own feet to the fire!
About the author
Leif Kristjansen is the co-founder of FiveYearFIREescape.com where he and his wife write about finances and early retirement for busy people. In their early 30s, they even retired from their corporate 9-5 and want to teach you how you can do the same. They have kids and a house in a high cost of living city but managed to succeed via saving skills and rental houses.