“The most important investment you can make is in yourself.”
― Warren Buffett
The best investment you can make is in yourself.
Since a child, you have invested in yourself in the form of formal education.
You start kindergarten at age four, then you move up to elementary school, followed by middle school and high school. You then went to college and perhaps after that, professional school.
After college, I stopped my formal education career and joined the workforce.
The amount of practical knowledge that I learned during the first six months in my job was tremendously more than that of my four years in college.
Hands-on experience from my job was much more valuable than any textbook theories that I learned. For any new engineering concepts that I didn’t fully understand, I can easily read about them in books and online articles.
Teaching myself how to learn was the key to success. That’s when I discovered the value of self-education.
I started reading books on topics that directly affect my life instead of abstract theories about mathematical equations that don’t improve my life at all. Podcasts, TED talks, and articles were my other forms of self-education.
After gathering information on how to improve my health, I started implementing them because they were extremely practical.
Although the results weren’t immediate, I saw progress along the way. My momentum propelled me forward.
After seeing amazing results, I wondered what else was possible.
My real education started after college and I’ve been continuously self-educating myself ever since. In college, I wish I took more practical classes instead of those abstract classes that I never used at my job.
I’m grateful for everything that I learned in college as it has made me the person that I am today. But times have changed because college isn’t the same as it used to be.
Education is a big business and it’s in trouble.
It’s a bubble waiting to burst.
College Tuition Rise
College tuition is rising rapidly. Hundreds of thousands of dollars and at least a four-year commitment is mandatory.
Not too long ago, a four-year college education was affordable and it was more like a vacation. You wouldn’t end up in thousands of dollars in debt afterward and can still afford to explore other career options.
That’s no longer true.
After investing so much money in your education, you’re more likely to stick with your college degree than to pursue something entirely different.
If you don’t find a job immediately after college, then you’re more inclined to further your education so that you don’t have to start paying your debt.
That could be one of your worst decisions ever. You’re creating more debt for yourself betting that having a higher degree will increase your job marketability.
Now that you’re further invested in formal education, you’re fixated on your career because of your enormous commitment of time and money. Any changes in your career would be insane.
You’ll be forced to get a high-paying job to pay off that ridiculous amount of debt that you have accumulated over the years. As a result, you’ll be a slave working for the money that you owe.
Besides pre-med, engineering, and any hard science majors, all other majors are mostly consumption decisions.
The impractical and irrelevant knowledge that you learn in most college courses aren’t useful in the real world. You learn about theories and abstract concepts that are rarely applicable.
What you truly want to learn is how to solve practical problems in the real world. That can only happen by deliberately practicing solving real-world problems, something you don’t get in formal education.
For example, you can read all you want about how to play the guitar. You will never be an exceptional guitar player if you don’t practice playing it.
The fundamentals are important for you to understand, but knowledge isn’t power until it’s applied by doing.
You learn the most when you’re in the workforce applying what you’ve learned. The invaluable experience that you gain by doing is enormous compared to that of what you learn in school.
Anything that you don’t understand, you can easily research about it on the Internet or reference books.
In this modern age, you can teach yourself anything that you don’t know.
Degrees Don’t Equal To Jobs
Having a degree doesn’t guarantee you a job anymore. Too many people have college degrees and are often times more qualified than you are.
This “safe route” is slowly becoming the “new risky.”
For medical doctors who have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars and eight to ten years of formal education after high school, how likely do you think they will switch careers if one day they realized that they don’t enjoy their jobs anymore?
Chances are low.
What’s worst is that most jobs on the market aren’t filled by simply sending cold resumes to companies. Instead, they’re filled with recommendations and referrals.
Through the referral from my former manager, I was able to land my second job. Because he knew my work ethic and enjoyed working with me. My former manager didn’t hesitate in recommending me for the job opening.
When it comes to job opportunities, it relies heavily on your network because the “hidden job market” consists about 70-80% of the job openings according to www.collegerecruiter.com.
Having a formal degree will definitely help, but they’re far less important in the hidden job market.
You’re better off investing time and effort in developing your personal network while building skills in sales, marketing, and leadership.
Investing in yourself is definitely the way to maximize your earning, but there are smarter and cheaper ways than the outdated formal education system.
The Power of Self-Education
Focus on the skills that will give you the highest return. You must invest and continually reinvest your time and money in skills that will increase your earning power.
This type of investment in yourself is known as “human capital.”
Dividends will come for the rest of your life when you invest in the proper skills such as sales, marketing, and leadership.
If you’re looking to improve your computer programming skills so you can take up more responsibilities at your job, then invest in a computer programming training course, book, or seminar.
Gathering the necessary knowledge will allow you to deliberately practice what you have learned. The only way to improve your computer programming skills is to consistently write codes.
This concept can be applied to any other skills that you want to improve. The best part is that most of the information is free.
But you won’t take them seriously because you didn’t pay with money.
Your psychology will prevent you from taking action on the knowledge that you have learned because there’s no incentive on your part.
The truth is that nothing is ever free because you’re trading time for it. There’s always an opportunity cost for everything that you do.
The question then becomes “Is my time worth this task?”
But if you can treat those “free information” (such as this article) as you have paid thousands of dollars for it, then your life will dramatically change because you will take them 100 times more seriously.
Collecting information is one of the most useless things you can do. That’s what typically happens in formal education.
Your true education comes from the disciplines of life through real-life experiences by applying the practical information that you’ve learned.
Your experiences and intuition will guide you which direction you need to go.
To be successful, you must add true value in the world by helping others solve their immediate and painful problems. This is true for both in businesses and your personal life.
The questions you should ask yourself are:
“How can I help others solve their problems?”
“What problems in the world need solutions?”
“How can I add value to the world?”
When you come from this mindset, you don’t focus on yourself anymore. You begin to shift your focus on others.
The best way to grow your income is to invest in your human capital. This includes cultivating a wide range of skills, habits, and resilience to be more marketable in the world.
I can’t think of a better way than to start a business. Entrepreneurship is the modern-day rite of passage because being an entrepreneur is the modern-day “warrior.”
There will always be new challenges in your business because the world is constantly changing. With experience, you will increase your capacity to deal with challenges.
As a result, you will learn new skills along the way to solve your immediate problems.
Those skills include learning to build a team and working together with others.
In any new business, you learn how to solve problems by understanding what the problem is, the potential solutions, where the customers are, and the market.
Your human capital increases as a result of solving real-world problems. You will be creating an income by adding true value in the world.
The more people you can help solve problems, the more money you will make.
Take your life into your own hands and build a business that you truly love while positively impacting others.
Please share this article with anyone who you think may find it valuable.
If you have any questions and/or comments on how to invest in yourself, please leave a comment below or send me an email.
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