If you can set aside some money each month, you should invest it. That’s standard advice to anyone seeking to master their finances in the long term. Yet in recent years, more people have found it increasingly difficult to save money, even if it’s just in a savings account.
An emergency fund is essential. You can deal with unforeseen situations. You can bail yourself (or someone you know) out of trouble by posting bonds. But cash reserves don’t offer a solution to every problem or let you hire the right people to do every job.
In a world shaken by the pandemic, only people who have invested in themselves will be able to adapt to new working arrangements and seize business opportunities quickly. Now is a great time to get started if you haven’t already done so. Here’s why:
How self-investment works
When you think of investing in yourself, what comes to mind? For most people, it would be learning new skills or continuing education. And with a diverse and ever-growing pool of online resources available, both of those are excellent avenues you could explore. Mastering a new skill or becoming an expert can subsequently unlock more career options.
But self-investment isn’t limited to these options. Think about how a typical financial investment works. You convert disposable income into various types of assets. These could be shares of stock or property. Over time, the market value of those assets will hopefully appreciate. It’s a calculated risk. But if it pays off, you’ve essentially multiplied idle cash, building wealth with minimal effort.
Investing in yourself follows along these lines. First, you need to allocate free time and effort into a particular activity. Second, the effects of that activity need to have the potential to appreciate over time.
Thus, any activity that improves well-being can be an investment. By planning your meals for proper nutrition, engaging in regular exercise, or practicing mindfulness, you convert your spare time to bolster your mental and physical reserves. In turn, this allows you to devote your concentration and effort towards highly rewarding activities. It also provides endurance and hardiness. You won’t suffer from body pains, burnout, or fatigue over the years.
Despite the potential benefits, few people devote their spare time and energy to activities that represent a good investment. Often, they are limited by a lack of vision. They don’t understand the potential of self-investment. They can’t make the connection between a few hours of extra effort in the present and huge rewards down the road.
Don’t make that sort of mistake. Instead of letting the empty blocks in your schedule fill out spontaneously with diversions or entertainment, both sources of instant gratification, seek better ways to spend your time. Be intentional. An hour can be rewarding if you eliminate disruptions and commit to what you’re doing.
The best time to invest in yourself is now. Due to lockdown measures and social distancing, many people have more free time than they know what to do with. If you don’t have to waste time on the daily commute or fulfilling social commitments, you now have plenty of opportunities to start building personal capital.
Creating value in the future
Recall that investment is a calculated risk. Financial experts have developed different strategies to work around this challenge. Though the element of risk is never eliminated, it can be mitigated. Chances of success can be increased through means such as diversifying your portfolio or buying “blue chip” stocks.
Investing in yourself is a good idea in the abstract, but you can make it even better by aligning your efforts with ways to create value in the future. This is especially relevant in the age of the pandemic. Employers and their workers are still learning how to be productive and communicate successfully online in the age of remote work. People everywhere are seeking ways to replace the value of face-to-face social interactions.
Knowing this, for instance, you could read books specifically about communication skills and enjoy the personal benefits of reading while increasing your expertise in a valuable area. Or if you use social media for meaningful interactions to improve your well-being, you can also ask other people about how they are adapting.
By developing your thought leadership, you can make connections others fail to perceive. You can bring value to your workplace or business by sharing and pioneering best practices. These lead to significant results over time. But it all begins with that first, intentional step toward self-investment.