Editor: This is a guest post from Matthew Bailey. He is a professional hockey player in Europe, a living testament to discipline and one of the most driven people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Learn how to pursue excellence directly from someone who has come closer than most people ever do. You can read more about Matthew on his website, Evolving Excellence.
I believe the key driver which has allowed me to achieve many goals in my life is to hold myself accountable to a very high standard. It is also my belief that it was my parents who instilled this attribute in me at a young age. Continued..
I talk a lot about investing. Heck, I think about investing non-stop. Usually I refer to the common use of the word in regards to the financial markets. Now I’d like to talking about why you should invest in yourself
What’re you doing when you invest money into the stock market? On a symbolic and basic level, you are investing in yourself. You’re investing in yours and your families future.
Money ain’t the end all, be all, though. How else can we invest in ourselves?
The Balance Sheet of life..
I want you to consider your life in terms of a balance sheet. You have assets and liabilities. You invest in assets that are going to produce you money, health and happiness.
Under liabilities you have the opportunity cost of these assets – money/favors that you owe from acquiring them, and what you had to sacrifice to acquire them. You might also place anything either necessary or ‘seemingly necessary’ in your life that harms or reduces your health, happiness and money.
A liability can mean something that is a hindrance or puts an individual or group at a disadvantage, or something someone is responsible for.
An asset is a resource controlled by a person as a result of past events and from which future benefits are expected to flow to that person.
In this sense, examples of assets could be; an education, skills, network, cash and/or portfolio, discipline, wisdom and knowledge from experience, a business, your health, a supportive family, and many others.
Most of these ‘assets’ don’t come free. They come from a mix of time, money and energy.
Paying thousands of dollars for an education is not necessarily a bad use of money. Even using student loans to accomplish this – after careful and proper consideration, and absolute necessity – can be beneficial. As long as doing so will repay you more so in the future than what it will initially cost you in money, time, health and happiness.
Money spent in pursuit of time with family and friends is neither a bad use of funds. As long as those people affect you in a positive manner.
Any activity that hinders your health, happiness, money, and essentially goals in the big picture, is a liability.
It gets a little tricky here, as generally these liabilities can provide short-term pleasure and happiness. Whether it’s true or artificial happiness is up for debate. And depends on the individual.
Blasting cash on unhealthy food, booze and whatever else is all working against your progression. Though used in moderation, can be a helluva’ good time!
Compounding your interest and value..
When you invest some of your income today, you don’t get to spend that money today. You have to pass on a swanky new jacket, cook at home opposed to eating out, drive a beater instead of financing a new whip. That’s opportunity cost, and it can suck.. If you’re thinking short term.
Similarly, if you invest in skills or improving yourself in some way today, the short term opportunity cost (sacrifice of time, money, etc) will be waaay worth it in the future.
Would you sacrifice a 2-3 years of your youth to gain skills and experience that may allow you to retire 5-7 years earlier? Or bust chops for 5 years on a business that allows you to work for yourself for the rest of your life?
Eyes on the prize..
I’ll be the first to admit I can be guilty of the following; most people can’t see past the short term, and in turn seek instant gratification. Perhaps our ‘results at the click of a button’ society is to blame.
I know first hand from discussing financial investment with people my age this is absolutely the case. It’s hard for people in their 20’s to fathom $500 or $1,000 a month disappear into an investment portfolio or furthered education when that could be spent on a nicer car, clothes or vacation.
More realistically, most people in their 20’s have a hard time affording to put that away and still live a reasonably comfortable life. Whether that’s due to excessive consumer habits or because the economic structure, wages and cost of living are out of whack is an entirely separate argument I’m not going to touch at the moment.
In the same sense, it’s challenging to further your education in the evenings after working full time. It’s hard to take a wage cut to switch industries to something you might have more passion for. It’s scary to choose the uncertainty of entrepreneurship over a steady pay cheque.
The key is really just actual action, and consistency.
In terms of assets; start small. Begin with setting an hour aside a day for your side gig. Aim to write 500 words a day. Enroll in one evening class a quarter. Commit to reading 10 pages a night. These are baby steps anyone can take.
In regards to liabilities; the devil is in the detail. Shoot to only drink once a week. Plan to have one meal of whatever from a restaurant, cook the rest at home. Anytime you think of buying something frivolous, leave it now, think on it and if you really want it/need it, go back the next day. Reduction is the key here. Above are some of the tactics I apply.