What comes to your mind when you hear the word “investments”? Stocks, bonds, gold, mutual funds, and fixed deposits might be some of the things. All of those things are evaluated in monetary terms. If you are financially responsible for your own survival, you know very well that money is very important. But all of these common investment products come with inherent risks and those risks are out of your control.
Risky assets everywhere!
What if the stock market crashes? What happens if the interest rates drop close to 0? Time and again, millions of people lose billions in their life savings during financial and economic upheavals. What if inflation soars because of excessive money printing by the central banks? And there is nothing they can do about these losses. This is why it is essential to look for a dependable asset that is well within your control. And it happens that there is one such asset, and it happens to be the closest to you: You yourself!
In particular, we are talking about how you can invest in yourself such that you keep earning benefits from your investments regularly and in the long run: Your health, your skills, your habits, your community/tribe, and your experiences. We will soon go through how these things have the highest happiness-exchange rate of all the investments and expenditures that we can make. In other words, we can derive lasting joy for a long time from these types of investments.
Value for Money
There is also the idea of value for money. Simply spending money regularly doesn’t guarantee that you will become happy.
We need to assess the “quality” of returns we get from our expenditures.
We could go on a shopping spree every weekend. It can help to beat the stress of a hectic workweek. We might get a temporary high from buying new fashion and gadgets. But if we don’t need those goods regularly, or if they don’t solve an important problem, then the value and happiness we get from them are short-lived.
Imagine if instead, we spent that money on experiences instead of nice-to-have products. This leads to creating last memories with our loved ones, that we cherish and derive joy from in years to come. Or acquiring new skills that make it easy to get through the problems and stresses in our lives. Or in carefully selecting products that we will be using regularly or those which will make our life better by solving a big and/or a recurring problem. Then, we actually get back value for our money. Thus, it is essential to keep the quality and utility of our expenses in mind, rather than to spend impulsively.
Health is Wealth, indeed!
Health is wealth, it is often said, and this is so true! Imagine if you had amassed vast amounts of money from stocks, crypto, gold, etc. over the years. But you had not paid enough attention and care to your health. Do you think you can enjoy your life with all the money you have if your health is bad? Also, assess all of the time spent in worrying about these investments: were those days and months spent joyfully, feeling inspired and experiencing new aspects of this vast and beautiful world; or were they spent under stress, doing monotonous tasks and constantly being under the pressure of deadlines and worrying about the bottom line?
Healthy Habits and Perspectives
Thinking about health as wealth is a very beneficial perspective.
For one thing, we are not “killing ourselves working hard to save for our retirement”.
Instead, we can go for a more balanced life where we invest our time wisely in taking care of ourselves. The healthier we are, the better we get to face our challenges and enjoy all our experiences. It helps us to deal with the stress coming our way and to emerge as a winner regularly. This boosts our confidence and provides us with contentment. Such positive feedback loops generated by healthy habits are what distinguishes winners, leaders, and innovators, from losers and blind followers.
Thus, investing in eating healthy, exercising regularly, and sleeping adequately will continue to provide us with enormous benefits every day, throughout our life. If you feel yourself regularly skipping or deprioritizing these personal healthcare essentials, you can make a thought experiment: think of how costly and unique your body and mind are!
Think of them as a one-of-a-kind magical gadget costing more than a trillion dollars. It cannot be bought again. It cannot be replaced. And as it turns out, it can be very difficult and costly to repair. The only viable option for us then is to take the utmost care of this wonder. Because truly, none of the advances in science and technology that man has achieved can beat the wondrous invention of nature that we are, each and every one of us!
Our Skills: The Toolkit in our Hands
After our personal health, comes the health of our professional outlook: how likely are we to succeed in our projects? And this depends on the skills we have picked up and honed. There are several benefits to having a growth mindset, and investing in learning and practicing new skills regularly. We never know what kind of challenges and problems our work life can bring.
By working on our skills, we are constantly sharpening our abilities to tackle challenges. And if we can find the niche where our true interests lie, we can have an endless reservoir of energy and motivation to beat any odds. This is why it is important to try out new things early in life, and always have the mindset of a lifelong learner. The sooner we find our true calling, the better our career graph can grow!
Among all the skills, the twin super skills of communication and time management have a special place in all walks of life. Our personal relationships are formed and strengthened by understanding each other’s needs, fears, and dreams in life. Similarly, prioritizing and planning our time to spend with our loved ones is critical.
It is said that your time and attention are the best gifts you can give to your loved ones and to yourself.
Your life’s best cherished moments will be formed only when you take out the time regularly to spend with your loved ones and communicate clearly with them.
The same principles hold true in our professional relationships. Effective communication and time management can make the difference between unnecessary misunderstandings and missed opportunities to collaborate and form a dream team with excellent coordination and synergy.
Studies of successful and failed organizations of all sizes reveal the important role played by communication. A culture of constructive criticism and empowerment of every individual to take ownership of the problems drives up innovation and productivity.
While a culture of micromanagement and punishment for failures drives up stress levels and sucks motivation out of the team members. The best leaders don’t try to control everything on their own; they communicate well with their team members, provide them with motivation and confidence to tackle their respective objectives and provide a guiding light from a distance.
Our Community: A Resilient Ecosystem
It is said time and again that man is a social animal.
The quality of our life experiences, the opportunities we meet, and the success we can earn depends on our tribe, our community.
Even in a time and age where the money takes center stage in almost all our decision-making, we will find people who can support one another without any monetary considerations. Imagine a tight-knit community with a diverse skill-set: even in a world going through a financial crisis like inflation or recession, such a community can survive and even thrive, by helping each other. Such a community will be self-sufficient to a large extent, and even without having much money to flow between them, can help one another using their skills and resources.
And the essential factor to build such a strong community is great communication and empathy between its members. This cannot happen in one day and needs to be cultivated through all kinds of times, good and bad. By telling each other stories, by connecting over shared problems, dreams, and fears, by offering small feats of help and advice over time, strong bonds and understanding emerge. And a healthy tribe or community will be able to weather all kinds of storms, real or metaphorical. It is so true: united we stand, divided we fall!
Quality of Life
Finally, what is our life but the quality in which we spend our limited time in this world? Think back to all the possible investments you can make. Think especially about their scarcity. You might have heard how gold is valuable because it is scarce. Bitcoin is often touted as digital gold due to the programmed scarcity in its supply: only 21 million bitcoins will ever be mined.
Well, all forms of assets can be earned and lost, again and again. You can have more money at times, less money at others. But time, once gone, can never be returned, accessed, and re-lived.
Thus, each of our lifetimes is the scarcest and non-retrievable form of asset. Shouldn’t we pay great care and attention to how we spend this most valuable resource then?
By investing in our health, skills, and community, we are investing in our life experiences: the true source of all our happiness! At the end of our life, there is little value to the monetary gains that we might’ve earned, and the material goods we’ve gathered. We came into this world empty-handed and we leave exactly the same way.
It is the quality of our lived experiences, the loving bonds we formed, the breaths we breathed with contentment and inspiration, the problems we overcame together, and the memories we formed along the way, that add to our happiness and success ultimately. It is all of these things then, that we should consider as our most dependable and valuable investments. And at the center of all these things is the most dependable investment asset that is totally under your control: You yourself!