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This week: Looking for investment? Begin with the best place: in yourself and your financial mind set.

“Study well, and get a good job, kiddo. Big companies will pay you well!”

The dreaded line that every teenager continually hears as they grow up. Sure the phrase has merit, but the rules of the game have changed: studying well isn’t the whole package anymore.

High salaries and a cool job are on everyone’s wish list but they are not possible to have without the greatest investment ever: your financial mind set.

Investing in yourself isn’t a new concept, but many young people are still unconvinced of its benefits, so here are three critical advantages that may alter your perspective:

1. Personal Growth

A multitude of psychology experts and scientists have claimed that growth is the single greatest source of fulfilment.

This is because consistently challenging your mind to explore unknown aspects of certain subjects or educational realms allows your brain to think critically: i.e., to deviate from using its natural survival instincts and instead start implementing more analytical and evaluative conditioning.

Based on a study conducted by the University of Calgary, consistently working the evaluative aspects of your brain and challenging yourself to learn more leads to far greater happiness and fulfilment compared to idly foregoing your potential.

Let’s study two examples:

1) Michael has a free weekend during university, no extra homework or projects. So what does he do? He plonks himself on his couch and binge watches Friends in the mistaken belief that it would only last several hours, but what do you know? He ends up watching it for the entire weekend. Come Sunday evening, he begins to feel the weight of his idle tryst with time.

He thought his entertainment indulgence would bring him happiness, but it doesn’t. He remains consistently unfulfilled by the end. Why?

Because he invested his time in an activity that offers short-term satisfaction, not long-term results.

Is he fulfilled? No. Has he gained the potential to grow? No, again.

In short, Michael loses.

2) John is a hard-working university student who watches TV as well, but he manages to make time his ally. How? On Friday, John gets home and relaxes after a hard few days of lectures and classes and then spends 20 minutes with a self-help/business book on how to successfully create a side income. A few friends drop in, have a chin wag and chips over a sports match. When they leave, John reads another 5 pages before bed. The weekend hasn’t arrived yet and John has already invested in learning. Now, for an hour on Saturday and Sunday, he pursues an online course to improve his verbal and written communication skills, because John understands that communication is a priceless asset, no matter the industry in question. Because of his dedication to investing in himself, John can potentially grow richer, improve his skill set and treat himself to some time with TV and friends. Is he fulfilled? Yes. Has he gained the potential to grow? Of course.

John wins.

Sure, you may think that merely reading a book on how to invest money will not make you rich or that taking a course on communication skills may not actually teach you how to walk the talk, but then there’s this truth: the moment you cease your learning, you stop your earning.

Consider this before saying that you won’t learn anything from a book, course, podcast or article.

2. Improved Financial Intellect

Apart from gaining personal growth, investing in yourself has a profound impact on enriching your financial intellect. Almost 85% of millionaires today state that their initial success is owed to leveraging the vast array of ideas and advice that comes from investing in themselves.

Consider this excerpt from millionaire Lewis Howes:

“Broken, broke, and clueless on how to make money or get a career, my obsession for learning about business, marketing, product design, human behavior, and adding value to people (when I had no value to give) began.”

Howes was an aspiring NFL player who’s dream was abruptly ceased due to an injury. After years of feeling futile and not knowing which path of life to take, he realised he needed to fix his finances and make an impact, which is why a keyword in the excerpt above is “value”. Money follows value on any road map, no matter the circumstances. Reading about business, finance, investing, marketing and communication is what catapulted Howes’ skill set and augmented his ability to add value to others, and this is why he became a multi-millionaire shortly after.

Remember this: Investing in yourself creates value, and the more value you provide, the more money you derive.

3. Have profitable ideas:

Napoleon Hill once claimed that a single idea is the first step towards earning money, but what’s the first step towards that idea? That’s right, investing in yourself.

If your learning process is stagnant, the value you bring to society will remain unchanged, and so will your wealth.

Most people believe that updating their phone software or acquiring the latest laptop will do wonders to their life but when it comes to updating and refreshing our greatest asset, brain and ideas, who’s first in line? Not many.

So invest in yourself today, and you may find yourself generating ideas that translate to monetary equivalents far beyond your expectations.

If there’s anything I would want you to take away from today’s column, it’s this: your mind is the only investment that can exponentially grow: no stock, property or business can do it the same way.

-Saahil Menon is a former Dubai student who is currently studying at the London School of Economics and is passionate about raising awareness in the young on how to get off to a great financial head start in life. His advice works just as well for all others.

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