“Invest in your future.” Have you ever heard this phrase before? I had heard it several times when I was in high school and in my early years of college. In general, people who use this phrase are referring to receiving an education or getting their finances together. These two areas are both great and important things to invest in, but we often forget other areas of our lives that require investing. If we don’t invest now, we can end up broke, and not necessarily financially.
First, let’s get a quick overview of what an investment is. To be simplistic, an investment is when we trade something now in exchange for something greater in the future. In finances, it’s trading money now, for a larger asset later. In education, it’s trading time (and often times money) now, for skills and knowledge later. But this is the point I want to make: an investment is trading something now for something better in the future. Any good investment requires time to grow. There is no such thing as a “get rich quick” investment or learning important skills overnight. Investments require time to grow.
With all that said, in what areas do we forget to invest? Glad you asked!
Relationships- A Harvard study showed that one of the top factors affecting health and longevity is the quality of relationships we have. Beyond the health reasons though, relationships are one of the joys of life. Building stronger bonds with a spouse, children, and other family members help make our homes a piece of heaven.
In relationships, we invest time to grow the relationship. If you have children, take time to get to know them. Learn about their interests and dreams. If married, never stop dating your spouse and learning about them.
Creating strong bonds in the home pays great returns in the future. After all, at the end of the day it is the people in our lives that really matter.
Additionally, we should cultivate relationships outside of our homes, building friendships and bridges with neighbors, coworkers, and people in our community.
Health- Here’s an area everyone intellectually knows they should focus on, yet often gets pushed to the side. The reason for this, I believe, is because the effects of neglecting our health isn’t always immediate. A poor diet and lack of exercise doesn’t really show noticeable signs for months or years. However, the effects always come, and unfortunately they usually come as we reach 40, 50, or 60 years old. This is why investing in our health sooner rather than later is important.
Investing in health can actually be seen as a financial investment as well. The biggest cost to seniors are medical bills as their health declines. Investing in your health now can help you avoid medications and constant medical visits later.
So how do we invest in our health? Here are a few ways:
- Improving how we eat
- Getting enough sleep
- Learning to manage our thoughts
- Learning more about health through resources like our blogs, videos, and podcasts
Spiritual- I’m not necessarily talking about religion here. When I speak of spirituality I’m referring to connecting with something bigger than yourself. This can be connecting with God, considering the beauty and majesty of the world and universe, coming to understand yourself and who you are, reflecting on the divinity within you, and offering service to others, to name a few ideas. This investment helps us to grow less selfish and look beyond ourselves. As challenges come in the future we are better able to put things into a healthy perspective.
Development of skills, gifts, and talents- One of the unfortunate trends I see when people finish school is a lack of continuing to learn and develop talents. Far too many people don’t try to improve their skills unless it revolves around their profession. What a sad life it is to spend 20-30 years learning, then to spend the next 50-60 years only learning what life throws our way.
All of us have a desire to create and grow. However, too often we suppress these desires because we are “too busy”. We have to go to work, take care of the laundry, wash the dishes, take care of the kids, pay the bills, and on and on the list goes. But life isn’t meant to just be about paying the bills. It’s about creating more beauty and service through our talents and gifts.
When I speak of talents and gifts, most people initially think of things like athletics, singing, or dancing. These qualify as gifts, but they’re not the only kind. Talents and gifts can include cooking, having empathy, teaching, networking, building friendships, learning languages and so many other things. Everyone has gifts and talents we can cultivate, including you.
I’m not advocating you forget your responsibilities; I’m not saying to quit your job, and please don’t neglect your children. Rather I’m saying we can all take some time to develop our talents. Whether that’s taking a couple hours a week or a few hours a month to work on them. We can continue to learn and grow, and by doing so, be able to serve more people.
Aside from time with my family or anything spiritual, I have found that developing my gifts and talents is the most fulfilling thing in life, especially when I use those talents to be a blessing in the lives of others.
In reality all areas of our lives are interconnected. My health affects my finances; my spirituality affects my relationships; developing my talents affects the service I give; my thoughts affect my behavior and emotions, and so on. I’ve simply chosen to point out areas that tend to get neglected. The good news, though, is that because of the interconnectedness of these areas, as we improve one area we can expect other areas to make some improvement as well. As we improve our health, we have more energy to spend with our family. As we improve our relationships, our health improves. It’s a beautiful pattern of life.
As a final thought, I want to point out again that investments take time to grow. We can’t expect our health to drastically change overnight, neither can we expect our marriage or relationships to change after one date or outing together. Be patient. See the future you want with gratitude for it now. Keep working at it. Often times we don’t realize the growth that’s taken place until we look back and see how different things are from a year or two ago. Things can get better. It just requires making the investment.