I love the question “What is the best investment you can make?” because the answer is so simple yet profound and universally applicable. The answer is the same for every human, no matter where he or she comes from, how old they are or what their goals are in life. We can rely on the answer to this question to guide us true through the most insecure of times. I ask myself this question every day, and I inevitably give the same answer:
The best investment we can ever make is in ourselves. No matter what happens, as long as we keep investing in ourselves, we will wind up in a better place.
This article will make it clear why that is the case.
What Is An Investment?
To start of, what does the word “invest” mean? The word “invest” comes from the Latin word investire which meant “to clothe, cover.” From there, it’s meaning may have evolved into “giving one’s money a new form.” Today the word invest means to “use money to produce profit.”
So to invest means to commit money with the purpose of benefiting from the commitment. But an investment doesn’t have to take the form of money; an investment can also be one of time and energy.
And last time I checked, every human being alive has two things at their disposal: time and energy.
This means that we all have the opportunity to invest, regardless of where we may find ourselves in life. We could be the poorest most ignorant person around, yet we will always have time and energy to spend.
And the best something we can ever invest in is ourselves.
Why You Are Your Best Investment
Please take a moment to reflect on the following question: What, no matter where we go or how much time goes by, remains with us for as long as we’re alive?
It’s not our clothes, nor our house; none of our possessions are actually ours. We can lose them, they can be stolen from us, they can break and fall apart. So our possessions come and go.
Same with our friends and loved ones. Eventually everyone dies.
So what is always with us while we live?
The answer: our bodies and our minds. That’s it. That’s all we get to keep as we live our lives.
As long as we’re alive we get to have a body and a mind. Of course, once we die we have to give both of them up. But for our time alive on this Earth we have all been given a body and a mind we can use to change the world in the way we want.
No matter where we go we have our body and we have our mind. We can lose everything except these things. We can even lose pieces of them, an arm here, a leg there, a part of mind elsewhere, but as long as we remain alive (and cognizant) we can use what remains of our body and mind to effect change according to our will.
That’s why investing in ourselves; in our body and our mind, is the best investment we can ever make.
We can lose all of our material possessions. As long as we have a mind open to learning and a body to engage with the world, we can make it all back.
With Our Bodies And Minds We Can Come Back From ANYTHING
Everyone has heard stories of people who lost it all and then came back bigger and better than before. This section of the article will mention a few of those stories. There was:
One of the best, if not THE best, presidents of the United States was bankrupt at some point in his life. In 1833, when he was a young man, Lincoln declared bankruptcy due to a failed business. He had gone into business with a friend of his, they had opened a general store and bought inventory on credit. Despite a booming economy, the store’s sales were terrible. On top of that, Lincoln’s business partner died. He was left on the hook for $1000 in back payments, which was a lot of money back then. Since there were no bankruptcy laws in those days Lincoln lost his last remaining assets to his creditors; a horse and some surveying equipment.
He continued paying off his debts until the 1840s, and became president of the United States in 1861. I would say Lincoln came back pretty strong from bankruptcy.
One of the greatest American writers, known for “The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer” and “Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn”, went bankrupt after a series of horrendous business decisions. It happened in 1894, 20 years after he had become famous for Tom Sawyer.
Twain then moved is family to Europe, began writing prolifically and engaged in an arduous speaking tour. He ended up making enough money to restore his fortune and pay back his creditors.
Tragedy struck after that, with the death of his wife and two of his daughters, which sent Twain into a deep depression. He died in 1910, a day after the passage of Halley’s comet.
Was born to a poor family during the Great Depression. He began his music career at the age of 13, as an escape from picking cotton, an activity he hated. From there Nelson achieved a legendary status as a country singer.
This didn’t prevent Nelson from racking up 32 million dollars in debt to the IRS due to his manager’s mismanagement. Nelson relied on his fame and his music to settle the debt, releasing the album “The IRS Tapes’ Who’ll Buy My Memories?” in 1992. All proceeds from the album went to the IRS. He even did commercials which made fun of his problems! And up until 2003 it remained a running joke:
By 1993 Nelson was financially solvent. He’s actually doing better now after his problems.
But famous people aren’t the only ones who can rely on their bodies and minds to escape from a hole.
You Can Come From Nothing And Still Invest In Yourself
I love the story of Mylo Kaye. He was a 19 year-old from Wirral, UK who through a combination of grit and perseverance was able to go from being a homeless teenager to a millionaire.
In 2007, he was homeless after losing his job. He managed to secure accommodation in a sleazy hostel filled with drug-addicts and alcoholics who made his living situation an earthly hell. He lived there for 12 months.
Throughout that time, Mylo spent his time in the local library, where he would use the computers to collect his unemployment checks. Mylo had an interest in computers, and since he couldn’t have his own in the hostel he would use the library’s. As his knowledge of computers deepened, he signed up to local college courses to further increase his knowledge and skills. He passed his courses, continued investing in himself and was accepted by Manchester Metropolitan University. There he met a fellow kindred entrepreneurial spirit named Jack Mason.
Shortly after, the pair left academia and started their own business making websites for companies. Now Mylo Kaye is a millionaire. Their digital company is named Dreamr.
How did Mylo Kaye (and everyone else mentioned) do it?
Every Day We Start With A Full Account
We start every day with a full store of two things: time and energy. What we do with that time and energy is entirely up to us.
How we use our time and energy directly determines our future.
We all have claimants to that full account of time and energy: we have jobs to go to and chores to do. All of these entities require our time and energy, and it’s in our best interest to solve them. After all, not going to our job would cost us our livelihood; not taking out the garbage would result in a tower of filth accruing in our home. And that’ isn’t good for anyone.
The time and energy we dedicate to those activities can be seen as maintenance. They keep us where we are. If you’re an adult, you know what it’s like to dedicate your time and energy to maintenance. A lot of our time and energy goes into it.
But not all of our time and energy.
Once we’ve done your maintenance activities we all have time and energy left over. This is the time and energy we can invest!
How Can You Invest It?
Look at what Mylo Kaye did. He could have slipped into an alcohol and drug induced coma after losing his job and becoming homeless. Instead, he went to the library. There, he invested in himself, in his knowledge and his skills, by learning about a subject which interested him: computers.
He then built on that. Until he wound up building and running his own company. It took him years, then again, everything great takes a lot of time and energy.
Day after day Mylo took small steps, which over time compounded into something great.
Everyone is unique, so everyone has their own interests. But if we take the time and energy to invest in our bodies and our minds there’s no telling where we could end up!
Libraries are gateways into opportunity. When we enter a library we gain access to troves of experience from the brightest and most creative who have come before us. If you’re privileged to live in a country with a good public library system, you have a magnificent tool at your disposal.
We Are Either Investing Or Spending
Every time we make a choice we are choosing who we want to be in the future.
When we choose to spend our time watching television, scrolling through endless social feeds, complaining, gossiping or drinking, we are forging the character complementary to those choices.
Just as likely, we can choose to invest our time and energy into ourselves; into improving our knowledge and skills, fortifying our health, cultivating our peace or expanding our creativity.
We all have the choice to either spend our time and energy or invest it.
Do you know what determines the choice we make?
Our degree of self-respect.
A person with self-respect who wants to change their life will take action to make it happen. Someone who doesn’t have self-respect will remain comfortably stagnant.
When we respect ourselves we take actions which ensure our continued health and prosperity. Otherwise, we don’t.
It’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it?
So where does self-respect come from to begin with?
To be honest, I don’t know. I would be lying if I said I did. I don’t know what makes a person have the self-respect to choose better for themselves. Some people can start off with everything they need to live happy and healthy lives and they throw it away. Others, like Mylo, start with little, and are able to turn it into something great.
I don’t believe anyone has the answer to that question.
So How Are You Going To Invest Your Time And Energy?
I hope you found this article informative. Learning about how others handled their predicaments is a great way to inspire ourselves to take creative action. I guarantee you that if you invest more of your time and energy into yourself and you keep doing so you will wind up in a better place than you are now.
We can invest our time and energy in ourselves in an infinity ways. Some are:
- Going on walks
- Creating art
- Eating nutritious food
- Pursuing our interests
- Doing things we love
- Being with those we love
Those are off the top of my head. If you find that you struggle to make time to invest in yourself, you can always wake up earlier to do so. Read this article for more on how to do that.
I leave you with this quote by Roy T. Bennett:
“There is no more profitable investment than investing in yourself. It is the best investment you can make; you can never go wrong with it. It is the true way to improve yourself to be the best version of you and lets you be able to best serve those around you.”
You are your best investment.
I now ask you this: how do you invest your time and energy?
To our wealth and success.