Your Greatest Investment Is You
We are all familiar with the line, “it’s not personal, it is just business” but somehow the instances where we hear this always feel personal. In fact, many of us consider these moments some of our greatest personal failures. So, how do we go about changing these moments? My answer is, realising that the best investment you can ever make in your own life is in yourself. At the end of the day it is you that must be happy with yourself. When you’re in bed at the end of a workday, it is your own voice that must be pleased with what you did and what you achieved.
I am a firm believer that happiness is a choice, especially when you reflect truthfully on the blessings you have, but I also believe that your life’s path must be carefully thought out. It goes without saying that we cannot control all aspects of our lives, and that is as it should be, but we can make ourselves and our lives open to success and happiness by choosing the right door to walk through.
- Be Honest
Your first step must be to be truly and completely honest with yourself. That includes realising (and sometimes accepting) your strengths and weaknesses. Also, you must be absolutely certain that when you close your bedroom door to the world at night that the person looking back at you in the mirror is the person you want to see and not what you think he/she is supposed to be based on an outsider’s viewpoint.
- Reach for the Stars, Again and Again
No dream you have is too big or too small not to matter! The wonderful thing about realising your strengths and accepting your weaknesses is that you know what tools you have with which to build your life’s path. We tell children to never stop dreaming, but for some reason as adults we never seem to follow our own advice. As human beings, we are continuously growing and changing, and therefore it is OK for our dreams and goals to change as well. However, to keep the mundane feeling of routine at bay we must be able to tell the difference between our dreams changing and our dreams drowning.
- Start Investing
Our interactions with other humans are crucial to our social development and our emotional health. It is therefore of paramount importance that we choose to have those in our lives who are conducive to the lifestyle we want, and need, to realise our goals.
The most expensive investment you will make (if your parents did not provide the funds) on your road to success is your education and training. Therefore, it will be one of your greatest decision also to choose your field of study. So, if you need a year or three after graduating from high school before starting your tertiary education, do so. At the young age of 18 very few of us know for certain who we are and who we want to be in ten years’ time so it is OK to place such an important decision on hold. Go out and explore! Get a part time (or fulltime) job and meet new people; get to know the world a little better before deciding where you want to make your mark. Never apologise for putting your goals and your future first! (If you are not harming anybody, of course)
- Treat Yourself Like a Business
Once you have your degree and have gained the necessary training, it is time to start earning back from your investment. It can be very difficult for graduates to get a foothold in their chosen field as most companies ask for experience as a prerequisite. The experience gained in that gap-year can come pretty handy in situations like these. It might not be in the same field, but an employer will know that you have professional experience so it is important to make that part of your selling pitch.
Don’t be afraid to start at the bottom. I know you worked incredibly hard for your degree, but don’t let it go to your head. Where it is important to be confident and proud of your achievements, it does not do to be arrogant. Starting at the bottom allows you the opportunity to gain experience you wouldn’t have otherwise and you will appreciate what you have so much more. However, it is important to realise when you are selling yourself short and settling. This is the time where you have to treat yourself like a business and carefully evaluate the pros and cons of a position. Also, allowing yourself space to grow will help to prevent yourself from feeling stuck in a position where you do not feel challenged and in so become, well, bored.
- Most Importantly, Enjoy Life!
Our time on this earth is so short, don’t waste a single moment! It is important that you do what makes you, and your loved ones happy. So, take that trip (even if you have to save for it for ten years) and don’t compromise on your dreams.
A bit of wisdom somebody very dear to me shared with me once, long ago: “Don’t change for anybody and don’t let anybody change you”.