The Best Investment You Can Make Is Not What You Think It Is

Here’s the question. What do you think is the best investment for your money?

For all it’s worth, you invest in all the different investment instruments known in the market. From conventional fixed deposit accounts to unit trusts, REITS and shares – to more recent tech-led investments such as robo-advisory and bitcoins. And no, you’re not stopping there. You’re also looking at alternative investments such as gold, art works, expensive watches and designer bags. Ah, and how can we forget what we Asians love best – properties!

In fact, investors all over the world are in pursuit of THAT investment which can give them a handsome return. Or more likely, handsome and guaranteed. Now, that’s a dream venture that most people are looking for, hence all the pump and dump schemes you see on the news. After all, nobody likes losing hard earned cash.

Now this brings us to the real question:

What is the best investment you can make today that will generate a positive return for you?

And it has nothing to do with what we’ve listed above. In fact, this form of investment is so remarkable because the returns are guaranteed, there’s incremental growth and above all, it stays with you for life. No fear of market or economic downturn, and you do not have to worry about bear or bull markets affecting your returns.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, you don’t have to look very far. It’s closer to home than you think. In fact, the best investment you can make today is self-investment.

It’s all about YOU

When you choose to upskill yourself, you are not only adding more value to your current skill set, you are investing for your future. Many people know this, but they don’t truly understand how important it is. When you improve yourself, you are essentially upgrading existing skills or adding on new skills to your personal portfolio. And with your newfound or upgraded and polished skills, you improve your earning power as well.

Basically, you are spending time, effort and money to improve your market value and worth. And above all, you are fully in control of how much further or higher you want to go. The sky’s the limit. No economic crisis or recession can devalue your skills and abilities. In fact, nothing or no one can take away the returns of self investment from you.

For the betterment of your life and future, here are a few useful tips that you might find beneficial: 

#1 Pinpoint your skill or talent

Before you invest in yourself, you need to answer this question: What skill or talent do you currently possess or want to obtain, that is worth your time, funds and effort?

Protip: It has to be marketable and in demand. And it’s not just your hard skills that we’re talking about. Since we’re talking about you as a person, it includes soft skills as well.

According to Linkedin, these are the top skills that companies are looking for in 2019. There might be changes next year, so keep a lookout for that.

Adapted from here.

Based on the skills listed above, how many can you identify yourself with? If you have at least one on the list, congratulations. Time to polish and refine it even further and be the thought leader in the field. On the other hand, if you don’t see yourself having any of the aforementioned skill, don’t let it be a setback to you.

Take up courses, read more, go for workshops or talk to someone who is an expert in that field to find out more. You might actually discover a talent within yourself that you never knew. Either way, it’s a lifelong learning process for everyone.

#2 Feed your mind and body

Now that we’ve covered the topic of your ideal skill set, we should also look at the more intrinsic side of things – your mental and physical health.

A healthy mind and body are key when you want your self-investment to give you the best return. If you are unwell or unable to focus on implementing your skills to earn more, then all your efforts will be in vain.

It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.

– Mahatma Ghandi

Remember to care for your body by eating well and exercising frequently. The correlation between the health of the body and mind is closely related. You need to be healthy physically and mentally – not only to grow your wealth, but to also enjoy life at its fullest with your loved ones.

#3 Set your goals

Once you have identified the skills you wish to learn or improve, then it’s time to take the next step of setting up your goals.

Have a clear path and guideline to your short-term and long term goals. Remember, everything you do must have a purpose. For a start, evaluate and set your goals using the SMART method:

  1. Be SPECIFIC. List down exactly what you want to achieve.
  2. It has to be MEASURABLE. Are you looking forward to getting a certificate of achievement? Or increase the number of books to read /podcast to listen? Quantify it and write it down.
  3. And ATTAINABLE. Be realistic as well. It has to be attainable or achievable so it can motivate you enough to achieve it.
  4. Not forgetting, RELEVANT. Why are you doing this? It has to be relevant to what you want in life. Do not detract yourself by pursuing goals that do not bring you to where you want to be.
  5. And of course, TIMELY. Develop a realistic timeline that you can adhere to. Include specific milestones along the way to keep yourself on track.

#4 Search for ways to upskill

The world is your oyster. With the prevalence of the Internet, information is at your fingertips – anytime, anywhere. There is no lack of both online and offline, or even hybrid mode of delivery when it comes to training and workshops. It doesn’t matter if you’re working full-time, part-time or freelancing – there’s something for everyone.

If cost is a huge factor to you, there are many affordable online providers that provide free courses or courses with a nominal fee. However, people have these misconceptions that:

  • Free courses can’t be good!
  • Cheap courses are cheap because they’re useless!
  • What’s the point of having unaccredited certificates from non-institutional bodies?
  • No employers would give me a promotion for an unheard of online course!

I hear you. In fact, I had similar reservations about courses that are seemingly too good to be true.

Free? Cheap? 100% online?

Are they even legit? Would I be wasting my time, energy and money?

Before we jump into any conclusions, it is wise to look at where we’re getting the bang for our bucks. It highly depends on which field you’re in and what your goals are.

I’m not saying all free courses are good, and I’m not saying getting an expensive MBA will necessarily provide you with an iron rice bowl either. In this time and age, what matters more in equipping you to grow your wealth and career is not a certificate.

It’s your beliefs.

Mindset.

Skill set and talent.

Your experience.

And your connections and network.

Finally, with all that you’ve learnt from upskilling yourself – whether it’s through formal higher institutions, professional bodies, training companies or even online courses…you get yourself a winner.

Remember, a paper is just a paper until YOU give meaning to it.

If you’re employed, prove to your employers or new employers what you can do with your new skills. Don’t just show a piece of paper or a badge on social media. Prove it with actual results from your current workplace. After all, numbers paint a thousand words (in this case).

If you’re self-employed, then all the better. You do not have to prove yourself to anyone but yourself. Put that new, polished skills to use and double, triple or multiply your income.

#5 Changing the mindset

And last but not least, it all has to begin in your mind first.

Do you believe in improving and investing in yourself?

Are you able to see yourself part with some time, money and energy today to reap the benefits of tomorrow?

Or when everyone around you is complacent and spending their time and money merrying away – yet you chose to go on a path less taken.

It’s all because you know that as the world changes and time passes, you simply cannot remain stagnant – or you’ll risk getting left behind. How many jobs today are at risk of being obsolete in the next two decades? Plenty.

Digital disrupters are mushrooming around the world. And they are called disrupters for a reason. At an individual level, you too can flow with the change – or risk getting displaced.

But it doesn’t have to be so. Start now, start early. Or if you’re just getting started at a later stage in life, it’s better to be late than never at all.

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