A commonly quoted piece of advice from Warren Buffet is “investing in yourself is the best thing you can do.” While I often see this quoted when someone is trying hard to sell me something (which, ironically, makes me feel manipulated and therefore less likely to actually purchase what he has to offer), I do actually believe that there is a lot of truth in that statement. In particular, if you look at the next line in his quote:
“investing in yourself is the best thing you can do. Anything that improves your own talents…”
I think when a lot of people hear the word invest, they are automatically think of it in terms of its monetary definition. And it’s true. To invest, by definition, means to put your money to use in a way that will give a profitable return. That interpretation of the quote is not wrong. There is actually something very powerful about making the decision that you are worth spending your money. There are things you need to invest in with your money – whether it is education, workshops, clothing, etc – so that you can become a better, wiser, stronger, more confident person. I’m not talking about fluff purchases or spending recklessly (a distinction that our debt riddled society has not yet mastered), but the actual things that, when you purchase them, provide a positive return in your life. When you invest that money, you are making a statement to yourself and the world that you are worth something.
While it’s very possible that this is the very meaning that Buffet intended – he is, after all one of the world’s leading monetary investors – this is not the only definition of the word “invest.” In fact, according to dictionary.com, there are 5 possible definitions. The other two that I think are worth exploring here are:
- to use, give, or devote (time, talent, etc.), as for a purpose or to achieve something
- to furnish or endow with a power, right, etc.
When you look at Buffet’s quote with these two alternate definitions, as well the next line in the quote, I believe that its meaning widens considerably. I know so many people that, due to the current economy or their own financial situations, find it difficult to spend vasts amount of money on themselves – even if they know that it could potentially reap big benefits. On the other hand, I know many other people who are quick to plunk down their money on any of the latest books, workshops, products, or gadgets that promise a miracle cure for whatever ails their life (many which, unfortunately, turn out to be a bad investment). However, these two extremes leave out all the other possible ways you can invest in yourself.
In reality, I think that investing in yourself is more of an actual mindset than a monetary transaction. When I live my life believing that I am worth something, my outlook changes. I have a clearer version of who I am now and where I want to be. This understanding leads me to be willing to invest in myself in order to reach my full potential. It becomes more than buying products or services (though that is most certainly a part), it is about making the choices that will support my worth. It leads me to the gym in the morning, knowing that I am worth the time it takes to be healthy. It helps me to turn off my electronics when necessary, knowing that I am both worth the true relationships that only come through authentic interaction as well as the rejuvenation that comes from taking a break. It encourages me to try a new hobby or travel to a new location, knowing that I become my best self through new and varied experiences. It gives me permission to take an extra five minutes in the morning to get ready, knowing that part of being my best self is presenting my best self. It pushes me to read new books and meet new people. It allows me to get the help I need to overcome the obstacles in my life. And it encourages me to pursue my passions.
It also requires that I choose to live my life with a positive outlook. It’s not possible to truly believe in your own self worth when you allow doubt, fear, anger, sadness, and negative emotions to rule your life. When you invest in yourself by choosing positivity – even when things are tough – you are once again sending a message to both yourself and the world: that you are worthy of goodness and happiness.
Because, frankly, you are.