You invest, or at least you want to, or you wouldn’t be reading this now.
But have you stopped to consider the investing mistakes you’re making? You know, the neglected investments, the ones you’ve either forgotten about, or the ones you should be forgetting about?
As a new father in a growing family, I know how easy it is to get distracted by the crisis du jour, or the new shiny toy – be it the latest stock, the latest side hustle, or the latest investing strategy.
It’s important to get back to the basics and invest in what gives you the best return on investment.
In a word: you
Neglected Investment #1: Invest In Your Skills
How long has it been since you’ve done something to push the boundaries of your abilities?
It doesn’t have to be school. Try a MOOC or other online course from Stanford Online or other institute.
Have you picked up a project at work – one that stretches your idea of what you’re able to accomplish?
Find it, watch it, and most importantly, act on it!
And don’t think it has to be related to money. Any investment in yourself will pay off with benefits in all aspects of your life, in the long run.
The most important step is the first one. Get started.
Neglected Investment #2: Invest In Your Time
Time is the one thing you never get more of, at least not until life extension therapy becomes a reality. So until the future is now, invest in your time – namely time saving methods, devices, and practices to make sure you’re investing your time where it’s most effective.
Hate doing laundry? Mowing the lawn? Cleaning the bathroom?
Everyone has chores. Some you love, some you tolerate, some you absolutely hate.
Hire someone to help you with the work you don’t want to do, so you can focus your time on the work that is most important. What’s important is specific to you. But whatever it is, it’s what makes the best use of your time to optimize for what matters most to you – possibly it makes you more money, or improves your efficiency, or gives you the time to spend with your family.
You know what you can afford financially. So make sure you’re making a conscious choice about where you spend your time, and focusing it on what moves the needle.
Whatever you do, avoid doing work just to be doing work, or just to be busy, or because it has to be done.
Whenever you find yourself doing something you don’t like, take a step back and make sure it’s the best use of your time.
Manage Your Tasks
Do you find yourself forgetting to do things? Maybe you have so much to do, you can’t keep track of it all?
Make sure you have a system for tracking your tasks.
For the longest time, I used a Franklin Covey paper planner. When I made the transition to a mobile device (anyone remember the Palm Pilot?) I tried their software. In a word, atrocious – buggy and frustrating. Especially frustrating to me personally since I’m in the software business.
In today’s smartphone era, I live in Todoist for day to day tasks. Trello is my favorite for collaborating with others on Enwealthen or projects with my family. And there are many free options ranging from a pen & paper, to a simple text editor, to Google Tasks, up to David Allen’s Getting Things Done method.
To quote one of my favorite comedies, “With no plan, there can be no attack. With no attack, no victory!”
Make a plan, revisit it periodically, and get it done.
Whatever the system, the final goal is you have a single list in a single place, and everything goes in that list
Find a system that works for you, and use it.
Every single day.
But I Don’t Have Time!
Everyone has time.
We all have the exact same amount of time – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for 70 or 80 years (more, or less, depending on our genes, luck and perseverance). If that’s not enough of a kick in the shorts, get your own personal death estimate, to see just how much time you have left, statistically speaking.
It’s sobering. Especially when you’re on the far side of that projected life remaining.
How you choose to invest those remaining days is up to you.
If it means waking up at 5am to get things done before the family wakes up. Do it.
If it means staying up late, do it.
If it means cutting the worthless things out of your life, do it.
If it means cutting the worthless people out of your life, do it.
Only you know what matters most to you.
If you can’t find the time, pick a time tracking app of your choice, and start measuring how much time you spend – surfing the internet, watching TV, commuting, social networking – and prepare to be shocked.
Now there will be times when you don’t have the time, for example, sole care provider for babies or elderly parents. But for most of us, where and how we spend our time is entirely our choice.
Manage your time, or it will manage you.
Neglected Investment #3: Invest in Your Calm
Finally, invest in your calm.
As the death clocks reminds us, life is too short to waste on bad choices. Eliminate the things that stress you out.
Bad relationship? Leave.
Bad job? Find a new one.
Bad finances? Grow the gap between your income and expenses, eliminate your debt, invest.
I know, it’s hard. Continuing down the path you’ve been on so far is soooo much easier.
But you know what? It’s that easy path that has brought you right here, right now.
Don’t you think it’s time you stopped doing what’s easy and started doing what’s right? Doing what will move you towards the future you want?
Increase the Peace
Now that you’ve reduced the stress, improve your peace of mind.
Find what it is that lets you relax, and create the space to enjoy it. No one else will do this for you.
What are you waiting for?
Take action now to invest in yourself, your time, and your calm. You’ll be amazed at the return on your investment.
I hope you’ve found this useful! Tune in next time for investing mistakes you’re making right now.
Which one of these investments are you going to make today? Did I forget to mention one? Let me know in the comments below.
Photo of abandoned car and building courtesy of Wikimedia.