July 9th, 2008

The #1 Way to Achieve Long-Term Success: Invest in Yourself

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When you hear the word invest, you might think of stocks, bonds and real estate. But the topic of this post is investing in yourself. How do you invest in yourself? You do this every time you choose to channel your time, money and energy into an endeavor that will make you a more successful, knowledgeable person in the long-run.

You have probably heard the financial advice telling you to “stop buying Starbucks every day, and instead, put that money into savings”, and over time, especially if you start young, the compound interest will make you rich. There is a similar effect when you decide to invest in yourself, for example “instead of watching television for 30 minutes per evening, put that time and energy into yourself.” This may not make you rich, but the effect it will have on your long-term success is significant. You could call this the effect of compound success:

The results of Investing in Yourself versus Stagnation are significant over time
The results of Investing in Yourself versus Stagnation are significant over time

When investing in yourself, you are always devoting a combination of time, energy and money. It is important to not focus so much on the monetary side of investing in yourself (ex. Cost of meeting with a personal trainer), and instead think about the positive long-term benefits this will have on your life:


Investment of Time / Energy / Money Long-Term Benefits
Read a book a week
  • New ideas and ways of thinking
  • Become an expert in your field in several years
Join a meditation group
  • Learn new ways to train your mind
  • Less stress/negative energy in your life
Start an exercise routine
  • Better health, memory, more energy
Form a mastermind group (coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose)
  • Exposure to new ideas and alternate solutions to your problems
  • Less trial-and-error when trying to reach goals
  • Larger network to utilize
  • Accountability to reaching your goals
Take a class or seminar
  • Learn from another individual’s accumulated knowledge and experience
Start a new business
  • Learn about yourself, your own strengths and weaknesses
Meet with a personal trainer
  • Accountability to maintaining your workout routine
  • Exposure to new exercises, ways to switch up your routines
  • Learn the correct posture for exercises, so you don’t get injured

These are just examples- think for a moment about what investments you could be making in yourself. What are the long-term benefits you would receive? Can you see how you would be more successful in the long run?

Tips for Investing in Yourself

1) Invest your Time and Energy before your Money

When I am considering making an investment in myself that will cost money, I always make sure I am fully committed beforehand. For example, before I started meeting with a personal trainer, I committed to working out six times per week for a month. This way, I had already built the habit of exercising, so the likelihood increased that my financial investment would be worthwhile.

2) Don’t try to do too much

When we try to do too much, we compromise our potential for growth, both in terms of happiness as well as quantifiable success. Quantity of good things affects quality.

-Tal Ben-Shahar, Happier

Write out a list of all the investments in yourself you would like to make, and then prioritize the list by long-term benefits. Focus on the investments with the most long-term potential.

3) After deciding on an Investment in yourself, write down the circumstances in which you will quit

Never quit something with great long-term potential just because you can’t deal with the stress of the moment.

-Seth Godin, The Dip

Instead of deciding to quit when you are in the middle of your new endeavor, decide under what circumstances you will quit before you start. Then put all your energy into the investment. This will ensure that if you do quit, you are quitting for the right reasons. Read my post on quitting for specific examples of how to use strategic quitting for success.

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