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Your Greatest Investment

When I was growing up, the general attitude towards money was that you could either spend or save whatever came your way. And although I was the sort of person who would save a lot more than what I had spent (thanks in part to my Chinese upbringing!), I began to realise that there was a limit to how much I could grow those savings. That limit being controlled by the interest rates the banks were offering across their product range.

It was at this point when I discovered that there was actually a third option to what I could do with my money, which was investing. The Sun and Daily Mail newspapers were replaced with The Financial Times and business sections of broadsheet newspapers as my curiosities led me to investing a portion of my savings into companies listed on the stock market.

I learnt that I could either simply contribute money to line the pockets of senior company management in my role as a consumer, or, share in the growth of an exciting and highly profitable business. The latter was clearly more appealing!

This experience taught me the benefits of self-education as the subject of how to invest and grow your money was absent from the school’s curriculum. More than anything, it became obvious to me that the greatest investment you can make is in yourself. Because the more you grow, the more you feel alive. 

You can develop any skill through effort, persistence and most of all immersion. 

Carol Dweck – a researcher at Stanford University – describes this as exhibiting traits of a growth mindset. Those with a growth mindset ‘believe that even basic talents and abilities can be developed over time through experience, mentorship, and so on. And these are the people who go for it. They’re not always worried about how smart they are, how they’ll look, what a mistake will mean. They challenge themselves and grow’.

A fixed mindset however ‘is when people believe their basic qualities, their intelligence, their talents, their abilities, are fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that.’

An important question I therefore made a habit of asking myself on a regular basis was: “How do I want to grow and develop myself?”

This simple, but powerful, action-oriented question will prove as instrumental in your personal development as it has mine. Some of the benefits that have come from this self-questioning include:

  • Less TV, More Self-Education. The many hours gained from cutting my time spent sitting in front of a TV was invested in building a small library of books around my interests and attending educational events. In fact, reading went from being just a casual activity, to a daily ritual. Spend just 20mins a day reading and you expose yourself to nearly 2 million words a year.
  • Following My Curiosities More. I pursued interesting ideas quicker and with less overthinking about the consequences. A popular trait amongst the most successful is that they begin before they’re ready, as the time to begin something will never be just right. So have a break from trying to find that passion and instead, follow what you’re most curious about right now.
  • Working Out At Least 3x A Week. A healthy mind requires a healthy body and vice-versa. I went from just turning up at the gym to do a few random exercises to feel good, to having a plan of what I wanted to accomplish by the end of each session. I became my own personal trainer, learning from books through to Youtube videos and experimenting with new activities each month.
  • Being Comfortable With The Uncomfortable. I welcomed new challenges. I understood that in order to grow, I had to continually expand my comfort zone and as a result challenges were viewed as more exciting than threatening. They were opportunities for growth with the focus being on what I could learn and the process rather than the outcome.

Remember, the greatest investment you can make is in yourself.

Take a moment now to jot down a few ideas in response to the question of “How do you want to grow and develop yourself this year?”

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