A quick search reveals tons of investment advice: in the stock market, in retirement accounts, in FOREX or commodities or gold… all designed to help you get a positive return on your time and your money.
But there’s one major investment category that typically is not mentioned: Investing time and money in yourself.
Of course you shouldn’t ignore other forms of investing, but taking twenty to thirty minutes each day to invest in yourself will generate much greater long-term results than any other investment you might make.
1. Build an awesome – and genuine – personal network.
I know: you have hundreds of Twitter and Facebook friends, and plenty of LinkedIn connections, too. That’s great…but what about truly personal connections?
Social media connections are occasionally useful, but the best connections are always personal. Who can you depend on if you need a recommendation (or a new job)? Who can you depend on when you need honest, objective professional guidance? Who can you depend on when you need a favor? Your Twitter “friends” are unlikely to be there for you… but people with whom you’ve made a genuine connection just might.
How to invest: Spend a few minutes every day reaching out by email or phone, not through social media, to peers or customers or colleagues or fellow alumni… or anyone you want to compliment or praise. Spend a few minutes giving – you may never receive in return, and that’s okay, because feeling good about helping someone else is, in itself, worth the effort.
2. Actively expand your horizons.
The only way to think outside the box is to occasionally live outside of your typical “box.” The only way to live your life differently than other people is to actually live differently, at least some of the time. Doing a few things you normally would never do is the perfect way to find new opportunities, grow your network, and discover opportunities you never knew existed.
How to invest: Get a part-time job, one outside your field. Take a class in an area outside your expertise. Pick something outside your comfort zone and do it – in the process you’ll learn and grow and gain confidence… and realize that your potential is much greater than you ever imagined.
3. Start a side business.
Focus is important, but so is flexibility and openness. Maybe you have programming skills you aren’t using. Maybe you’d like to sell a few products online. Maybe you’d like to teach or tutor or mentor. All you have to do is take something you’re interested in and turn it into a small business. While you may make some money, more importantly you’ll leverage your interests, broaden your business perspective, possibly bring some of what you learn back to your career… and get hands-on experience with being an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurial skills are always in demand.
How to invest: Pick something you like to do and dream up a few ways to make money doing it. Again, the goal isn’t to get rich (although you might); the goal is to take on a challenge and learn to conquer it – all while gaining extremely useful business skills.
4. Spend time every day thinking.
I know: you spend your whole day thinking.
But actually you don’t. You spend your whole day reacting to issues, to requests, to targets and goals and hurdles… reacting is thinking, but it’s a very different type of thinking. What you don’t get to do is think strategically: about your future, about how best to reach your goals, about how to better work with the people around you… that kind of thinking is incredibly productive. In my experience, the difference in successful and unsuccessful people is partly based on the fact that successful people set aside time to just think.
How to invest: Turn off all the distractions. Turn off the TV or music. Take a walk. Or sit quietly and gaze at your favorite view. Force yourself to simply be by yourself with your own thoughts.
It might be boring at first, but boredom is a great source of inspiration. Before you know it the ideas will flow, and they’ll be your ideas – and those are the best ideas of all.
source: forbes.com by Mark Eghrari