The Secret to Success in Life is Investing in Yourself

For the last eight years, every August I get the coursebook from my local community college which I graduated from eight years ago. Seems like yesterday I was trolling down the hallways, and living the life of a college student. Like every year, the course book becomes great toilet reading material – this year was no different. As I was browsing through the courses, I was amazed at how many courses actually appealed to me, their affordability, and the fact that I was even remotely interested in doing any schooling . But to my shock, the coursebook has peaked my interest, and every night I’ve been browsing it.

We all work hard for that bonus, salary increase,  debt elimination, and even to save more and invest money. That’s a given, but how many of us invest in ourselves? When was the last time you learned a new skill? Taken a course? I’m certain that majority of you would be in my boat, because it’s been a very long time (8 years) since the last time I applied my self to learn something new that could lead to career opportunities, higher paying job, and possibly a more solid happier well-rounded lifestyle.

Needless to say, I’m ecstatic with my current lifestyle, and everything I’ve achieved thus far, but let’s face it: There’s always room for improvement.

Like Benjamin Franklin said; “If a man empties his purse on his head, no one can take it from him.”

So, I’m wondering how do you invest in yourself right now? and if you’re not investing in yourself right now,  you can start with these 7 ways you can invest in yourself and become successful in more ways than one.

Non-Fiction Reading

I often get asked by dates or friends or even some friends of friends if I read, and my answer is always; “Yes, but only non fiction”. Usually they look confused after my answer, but seriously I don’t enjoy reading fiction books. I’m not into fantasy, role-play, futuristic crap or even that 50 Shades of Gray sex for your brain series. Instead I enjoy reading a lot of business books, finance, economics, and anything in between that pertains to everyday life. I don’t know about you, but what the heck can I take away from a fiction book? Nothing. However, I do understand that it’s a different animal all together, and while business books are meant for us to learn something, fiction is meant for us to relax and kick back.

So, one way to invest in yourself is to do a lot of non-fiction reading. It gives you an upper edge on the latest happenings in the world, and many simple how to scenarios – so next time you go into a car dealership, you’ll be able to calculate your own monthly car payment by simply plugging in a few numbers.

Languages

Learning a another language is not only extremely rewarding, but it can provide huge benefits. In Canada being bilingual provides huge benefits (higher pay), and many more opportunities than English speaking job seekers or applicants. Furthermore, many international companies look for people who are bilingual, and knowing a second language can open up opportunities for you around the world. I’m fortunate enough to be bilingual, but learning French or Italian or Spanish is on my bucket list.

Personal Finance & Money

One of the most attractive parts about personal finances is that a lot it can be self taught through reading, practice and even talking to others. Another way I’d suggest is starting a personal finance blog, because for less than $100 a year (or $10 a month), you can read others blog, write your own thoughts, and expect many different opportunities to come your way – such as FREE books for you to review.  Reading personal finance blogs (like Finance Fox) is interesting enough, but using creative thinking, being part of the personal finance community, writing your own thoughts is participation, and that’s experience on a whole other level.

Despite all the readership, money earned, commenting, and opportunities, I’m most fortunate for all I was able to learn (and continue to learn) more pertaining to personal finance. Heck, it must have worked, because my spending and saving ways are different, plus I got out of debt in less than a year.

First Aid Course

This course is invaluable, and something everyone should have. I’ve yet to get my certificate, but getting one is inexpensive, and is offered by most local community colleges as a weekend course. This is on my bucket list for sure!

Travel

I love this one because it’s not as self explanatory. If you go abroad for at least 2 weeks in a country where you are not totally at ease (different language, different culture) you’ll definitely stretch yourself and expand your horizons. The best move here is to go for a 4 or 6 months mission abroad paid for by your firm or possibly volunteer through your religious institution to go to a third would country. I’ve never done anything like this my self, but there are those in my life who’ve traveled alone for months or weeks or volunteer in third-world countries and their experience has been nothing short of inspirational, educational and life changing. If you’ve ever traveled anywhere by your self, you already know what I mean.

Training / Certification / MBA

Furthering your education by getting an MBA that’s funded by your employer – consider your self the 5%. However, for the rest of us, the 95% taking  courses such as graphic design or sharpening your excel skills are solid way to keep your mind sharp. Either way, if you’re fortunate enough to work for a company that gives you a yearly allowance on professional development, and you’re not taking advantage of it……well you’re a fool! Sorry to be so harsh, but FREE EDUCATION is something that nobody should turn down.

Health, Fitness & Physical Appearance 

I’m going to blunt and say this: Your looks play a key role in the success you have in your career. Sex sells, and those who are hiring are well aware of it. Obviously nobody speaks openly about it, due to a lot of lawsuits and funny things like that, but it’s true. So, now that we got that out of the way, I highly recommend you invest in your health and appearance. Not only does exercises give you a chance to meet people, but you’ll gain confidence, and that’s something that money can’t buy. Furthermore, staying fit and healthy means less health risks when you’re older.

Your outward appearance reflects all that you have to offer, so don’t allow it to undermine your skills and qualifications. Like it or not, how we look not only influences what other think of us, it often affects how we feel about ourselves. Naturally, we want to play up our best features, and the best way to do so is through investing in your health, fitness and physical appearance.

Networking

One thing that separates the successful from the average (aside from money) is their connections and their ability to network. We’re all familiar with the adage that “It’s who you know, not what you know”. Developing a professional network has many advantages, but the one that will benefit you the most in a tough economy is employment opportunities. Experts note that one of the first things you should do if you’re looking for work is to inform your network. After all, you never know where a lead is going to come from. Even if you’re not looking for work, you can store up some good karma by helping someone else with a recommendation or referral.

The beautiful part of networking is that it does not cost to network and keep connected. Obviously some things have an initial cost — like joining a professional organization, taking a course, attending networking events or joining a club — but most are free. Volunteering or sitting on a board is one of the best ways to network, meet others alike and build your network.

Final Thoughts

I’ve always believe that money comes through time, but investing in yourself can last a lifetime. If you carefully asses the above list, you’ll notice majority of the seven ways to invest in your self share one thing: They’re FREE or virtually cost next to nothing. Yet, I still don’t know how anyone can argue the need to continuously enhance one’s knowledge and skills. Especially in today’s fast-paced and global economy, staying competitive is a necessity.

The point I was trying to make with today’s post was that you should always try to make yourself ‘marketable’. Even if you are working, there’s no harm in adding to your skill set. Certain skills, maybe not all of the ones from above can be beneficial to your household and save you time, money, and aggravation. If we don’t invest in our selves, nobody else will. So get cracking!

Readers, how do you invest in yourself for self improvement?

Best,

Eddie

Photo Credit (trufflepig)

Comments

  1. I feel the same way with reading now. I used to enjoy the occasional fiction book, but now, I just want to predominantly read about non-fiction and learn something!

    What used to be a fantasy novel is now Steve Jobs Bio by Walter Isaacson, for example.

    I just want to stay fit, have a good core group of friends, and be happy.

    Sam
    Financial Samurai recently posted..Become A Mortgage Refinance King Or Addict To Save MoneyMy Profile

  2. THat Ben Franklin quote is pretty good.

    THanks for mentioning the physical appearance thing. It’s refreshing to just hear someone say it! My wife and I talk about it sometimes too, about science showing how more attractive peopel make more money and get promoted faster (due to their appearance or the confidence they get from their appearance?? Up for debate.). We can be all weird and policitally correct about it if we want, but it’s sort of denying the facts. And so whether or not you were born looking like a GQ dude, you can certainly get yourself in shape and take a shower every now and then, and that’ll improve your “attractive” standing!
    TB at BlueCollarWorkman recently posted..Get an Oil Change Without Getting Ripped OffMy Profile

  3. I can’t remember the last time I picked up a non-fiction book. I’m currently reading a career/interview book and I just ordered two new ones: (1) R.A Dickey’s new book and (2) Dan Miller’s new book, “Wisdom Meets Passion.”

    My wife and I do our best to eat healthy and invest in keeping our body healthy, and we’re looking to take some language courses here in the near future! :)

    Investing in yourself is extremely important.
    Jason recently posted..Tragedy Strikes Close to Home: Why You Need to Have Life InsuranceMy Profile

    • Jason,
      RA Dickey’s book got awesome reviews. He’s been a solid pitcher for the Mets this year, and for a guy who had one (maybe two) Tommy-john surgeries to becoming a knuckle ball pitcher.
      His story is pretty amazing, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he won the CY Young for NL.

  4. Eddie,

    another good post! I think that the most important investment you can make is to yourself. That’s why I read a lot and I try to get more information out of other financial bloggers, so I can improve my financial skills (those dividend investing bloggers won’t give me their performances, though, I wonder if they are all talk). Anyway, thanks again for your good post!

    John
    John @ Calling the Puts recently posted..Why do I think that there will be a crash? part 1.My Profile

    • Hi John!
      I don’t know if they’re all talk or not, but I’d be curious to know why they won’t share their performance.
      Hmmm….maybe you should write a post on it. Throw a little salt on the wound….just a thought :)

  5. Stagnation truly is a sin. A wise man once mentioned that riches can be taken but once obtained, knowledge will forever be yours.
    Jennifer Lynn @ Broke-Ass Mommy recently posted..Financial Challenge August Update and the Incoherency of FatigueMy Profile

  6. I am always reading everything I can get my hands on which includes non fiction as well as fiction. I still read the newspaper and a variety of websites, listen to news programs and magazines.

    I make myself more valuable at work by distinguishing myself. I volunteer to do extra things which make s me more valuable.
    krantcents recently posted..Volunteering Changed Me!My Profile

    • Larry,
      Like yourself I read the newspaper daily – in fact I’m thankful that my work subscribes to 3 of them at work – so you can guess what I spend doing on my lunch hour.
      Cheers!

      Eddie

  7. I’m always impressed with people who get through non-fiction books. I have a bit of an escapist personality and I looooove fiction, but just can’t get through non-fiction.

    I do enjoy taking classes though. It’s a part of my benefits at work, so it’s free! This week, I’m starting an HTML class to brush up on my web skills and in a few weeks, I’m doing a PHP class. I like the structured learning environment of a class and it’ll make me more marketable in the long run.
    CF recently posted..Should I, or should I not?My Profile

  8. I just finished my MBA after working on it for five years. I plan on working on a few certifications next. So long as the company will pay for it; I may get another degree.

    You are definitely worth investing in yourself and your family too!
    JP @ My Family Finances recently posted..I Started a Commenting Schedule and Top Family Finance Posts #12My Profile

  9. Really really great article. I think, if you know Chinese language today, it’s super-duper benefit. There is only one con – very hard to learn:(

    What do you think about adding Chinese in you bucket?:)
    Alexander Collins recently posted..5 Forex Trading Techniques for a Newbie Which Are Often OverlookedMy Profile

  10. I’m actually in school in an interpreting program right now! I’m a total language geek. At one point in my life I wasn’t going to school, but I took some low cost language lessons at my local Turkish club. Learning is what makes life exciting.

    Oddly enough, my favorite non-fiction is usually written by or about Benjamin Franklin and his contemporaries. Such great ideas, both practical and poetic, floating around in their era.