Sat | Jun 15, 2024

Oran Hall | The value of investing in self

Published:Sunday | March 26, 2023 | 12:38 AM

Investing in yourself is devoting resources, such as time and money, to develop the knowledge, skills, experience, competencies, and a state of well-being that are required to make you a more complete person with the ability to function at a high...

Investing in yourself is devoting resources, such as time and money, to develop the knowledge, skills, experience, competencies, and a state of well-being that are required to make you a more complete person with the ability to function at a high level of competence in various roles and circumstances.

Like investing in financial instruments, investing in yourself can deliver significant returns, sometimes in the short term, but more meaningfully over the long term. In some ways, how much you put in determines the level and quality of your returns.

How much you put in is not just about money. It is also about time, organisation, focus, effort, and stick-to-itiveness.

Investing in self is about making yourself a very valuable asset in all stages of your life to the fullest extent possible, not just your own benefit, but for your family and dependants and the wider society. It is about personal development and continuous self-improvement and growth. It includes building and nurturing associations, connections, and relationships, and being able to create and see opportunities.

But it takes time and requires patience and the willingness to try again when the desired results seem elusive. Ultimately, it should lead to success, however you define it.

There are many ways to invest in yourself. To begin with, you need to know your goal – what you want to achieve, when and how. Of course, things are not always in your control. Having a goal is very important, though, as it plays a key role in giving you focus and is able to keep you going in spite of challenges and setbacks.

The formal education system offers many opportunities for you to invest in yourself through its myriad programmes at several levels. There are degree, diploma, and certificate programmes in a slew of academic programmes, but there are also technical, vocational, and professional programmes that the institutions spawn as fast as time passes.

Programmes come face-to-face, online, and hybrid. They are convenient in terms of time though not necessarily in affordability for some people. Beyond that, the system provides many opportunities for lifelong learning. There are valuable online learning resources that do not require any direct outlay of funds. Here, I recall engaging a young man to do some work at my home not too long ago. One day I asked him from whom he had acquired the skill to do that type of assignment. His answer was: “YouTube”. He is not alone.

Mentors and coaches are everywhere. Selecting a good one can prove quite helpful. Engaging them can save valuable time. It is far superior to learning from your mistakes.

There is a wide range of newspapers, books, and magazines that provide information on diverse subjects. These can provide a treasure house of valuable information for those willing to invest time. And there are seminars, conferences, and workshops.

Keeping the right company, including associating with people who have experience you do not have, is also a good source for acquiring knowledge, skills and competencies. It is a case of how well time is used as well as the willingness to share with others as they share with you. It is called reciprocity.

Has it ever occurred to you that you can invest in yourself by giving? This is one thing that volunteering does for you, whether it is volunteering to serve at church, community, or other sphere. There is so much to learn as you serve.

We do not seem to be able to avoid budgeting, whether it is time or money. Investing in yourself requires both, but there are benefits. When you invest in yourself, it enhances your ability to earn more, to make professional advancement, to become more nimble and thereby improve your employability, and to live a more fulfilling and adaptable life.

One big advantage of investing in yourself is that you acquire assets – knowledge, skills, and competencies – you generally do not lose. I wish we could say that about investing in financial assets.

As you invest in yourself, there are several areas it is worthwhile to invest in to improve your chances of success. This is not an exhaustive list. Develop the ability to work well with others: teamwork helps to make both you and the team better. Learn and practise to manage time well. Develop the right attitude and be willing to help others. Learn and practise to communicate well. And remember to take time for financial literacy.

Additionally, develop the ability to analyse yourself. Be willing to learn and to accept criticism. Know how to present yourself. It creates the first impression in the eyes of others. I doubt you are an island, so you will likely need others from time to time. Networking can be a great source of help. It can create opportunities for you, it can generate ideas, it can be a source of diversity, it can help to make you accountable, and it can provide you with support, just as you can do all the above for members of your group

If you invest in yourself well, you should be able to generate the financial resources to invest in financial and real assets.

- Oran A. Hall, author of Understanding Investments and principal author of The Handbook of Personal Financial Planning, offers personal financial planning advice and counsel.