Investing in Yourself

While my focus here is typically on libertarianism, economics, politics, investing, and money management (and sometimes all of those put together), I do occasionally have to remind others (and myself) that investing in yourself is more important than any financial investments you can make.

Investing in yourself can mean almost anything, but it generally means taking steps to improve your situation in life.  Some will mistake this as formal education, but that isn’t what I mean.  Formal education can serve this purpose, especially if it means a certification for a particular career.  But I am generally referring to informal education and other activities that can enhance and improve your life.

I recently wrote a post on Donald Trump as a businessman.  I made the point that you have to be willing to try different things and learn from your failures.  You can’t just try one thing and go for broke because you are likely to fail.  Even worse, some people never try anything at all.  You have to be willing to fail many times and then embrace what is successful.

I recently listened to a podcast with James Altucher interviewing Gary Vaynerchuk.  I am not really familiar with Vaynerchuk’s work, but I really enjoyed the interview.

As far as Altucher goes, he is a complete mess in some respects.  I have written about him in the past.  He is someone you can learn a great deal from.  You can learn from his creativity, and you can also learn what not to do.  His life is too much of a roller coaster for me, but his ideas and creativity are incredible.  He is also a great interviewer, as he is able to pull out a lot of great information from his guests.

In this particular interview, Altucher asked Vaynerchuk about a hypothetical guy working in middle management who wants to get out of a rut working in the corporate world (or something to that effect).

Vaynerchuk says that the first thing the guy should do is to not spend his whole Saturday watching House of Cards.  Actually, he used more colorful language than this, so be cautious about listening to this podcast in front of kids or sensitive ears.

Vaynerchuk’s point is about time management.  We find ways to whittle away our time.  I don’t watch House of Cards.  I do watch television, but I am fairly limited to a handful of shows, along with some sports and a few other things.  I don’t get a lot of downtime, so watching television is a little bit of time for decompressing (in the words of George Constanza).

Vaynerchuk said that the person should be spending that time (on Saturday instead of watching House of Cards) investing in himself.  He didn’t quite use those words, but that is what he meant.  It is about finding a passion, or something you are good at, or hopefully both, and making something out of it.

It could mean starting a blog, or a YouTube channel, or setting up a website to sell something, or to just give something away.  You aren’t going to get rich right away.  You probably won’t even make any money right away.  But you have to get started.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

When you do little things on a consistent basis, they start to add up to bigger things.

Vaynerchuk said in the interview that Johnny Crest (their fictional character) might realize that he likes his life.  He likes getting drunk with his friends on Thursday night.  He likes watching House of Cards.  It is really a matter of preferences.

Anyone can say they want to be rich, but that isn’t the question.  It is whether they are willing to sacrifice certain things (like watching House of Cards all day Saturday) in order to even have a legitimate chance to get rich.

The majority of people – probably the large majority – fritter away time easily.  I am not saying that you should never have fun or never have downtime.  Some relaxation is important.  But again, we do have choices to make.  Can you find an extra hour in each day to do something to invest in yourself?

The question that often gets asked is, “But how will I make any money doing that?”  The answer is that you may not make any extra money doing it.  It could go either way.  But there is one thing I am absolutely certain of.  If you don’t try that extra thing, you definitely will not make any money off of it.

It doesn’t mean you can’t abandon projects if you see a dead-end ahead.  You learn from your failure.  But it really isn’t a failure.  It is just a necessary step in the process of finding what you are good at and what people are willing to pay you for.

If you are happy in your job or whatever it is you do, and you are generally happy with your life situation, then that is fine.  You can have your daily gripes about little things, but just don’t gripe about your life or your big picture of things.

If you feel like you are in a rut, then change something.  Try something different.  This doesn’t mean leaving your responsibilities or quitting your job.  I am not talking about running away.  I am talking about embracing something new.  If it doesn’t work out, you can always try something different with little lost except some time.

But if you are in a rut and all you do is complain about it, then you are probably not going to get out of the rut.  You can keep complaining about it and be miserable.  Another option is to change your attitude and embrace your current situation.  But a third option is to change your attitude, embrace your situation, and try something new that may open up new opportunities.

Invest in yourself.  It is up to you to figure out the optimal way to invest.

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