A lot of bloggers are doing “New Years” themed blog posts. I thought I’d chime in. So this week, I want to do a series of posts on some lessons I learned in 2010–in all aspects of life. Why I decided to open with a blog about money, I have no idea. In any event, on to business.
One thing I’ve learned over the course of this years is that money, by itself, has no value. It only has implied function.
Which isn’t to say that money isn’t important. In fact, I feel it’s very important, provided you do something with it. I guess the best way to put it is this:
I know a lot of people have this viewpoint. I think I heard it best discussed by Mr. Tim Ferriss. At a conference I was at this summer, Tim talked about how his goal was never really to be in a position to have a limitless amount of “wompom” that he could trade. This spoke to me.
You see, seeking money–or solely seeking money–had never been satisfying for me. I grew up a poor kid, so I certainly have always wanted to better my situation, but I was never in love with the idea of being fabulously wealthy; instead, I just wanted to achieve an income where I didn’t have to “worry” about money. Which explains why I never sought to use my degree to get a “real” job, and instead was content to make a very nice living doing something I loved. Thankfully for me, if you do something you love, you tend to get good enough at it to make it lucrative, which is what happened with my training business.
But even when I was training and making more money than I needed, I stopped being excited about it pretty quickly. For a while I splurged on stupid shit (I do have a weakness for fashion), but I tired of that and began looking for ways to use it more intelligently.
The thing is, once your bills, needs and most of your wants are taken care of, the extra money just sitting in your account doesn’t do much for you by itself. You have to DO something with it. You can trade it—for either objects or experiences. I’m going to avoid going off onto a tangent about minimalism, but suffice it to say I have enough “stuff” and the only physical objects I buy with any regularity are books.
For a lot of people, this is as simple as putting it in a savings account and letting the interest build up—and that’s fine. It requires no thought, yields no excitement, so while I certainly maintain a savings account (a few, in fact), I don’t really consider this an “investment” for me.
For others, it means investing traditionally, in things like stocks and bonds. While I’ve done this, it certainly doesn’t excite me. I know enough about myself to realize that the only interest the market holds for me is the interrelation is has with social issues and world events.
As an example, Apple is an interesting stock to me because the company is pretty incredible in the way their marketing works and how their products become so hot. As a tech junkie, I like this; as a student of social dynamics, I am endlessly fascinated by observing a cultural shift—when people all of a sudden “need” something (like an iPod) that literally didn’t exist a few years ago, it gets me going. So I like that.
Watching numbers and tracking rates, on the other hand, is about as much fun for me as re-reading Twilight. Resultantly, I don’t do much in the way of traditional investing.
This past year, I’ve spent more money thanI care to admit buying books, going to seminars, and on coaching. Some fitness related, some life related, some business related.
I’ve gone to mastermind meetings where I’ve sat and exchanged ideas with fitness icons like Bill Phillips, and I’ve gone to seminars led by marketing gurus like Frank Kern. Neither of these are cheap, but they’ve been worth it.
While I haven’t come across too many life-changing secrets, I’m happy to say that I’ve gotten a nugget or two from every single one.
If I spent 47 bucks on a fitness-related book and get even one or two worthwhile and actionable tips from it—things I can use to make me a better coach and get people better results—I think that’s a great return on my investment.
If I spend money to go to a seminar, even if I don’t learn “that much,” I will probably meet someone there who can continue to teach me something. I’ve come to learn that without exception, when it comes to business seminars, you learn as much (or more) from other people in the audience as you do from the speakers on the stage.
Despite the fact that attendance at some of these seminars is very often pricey, I have ceased the limiting mindset that would cause me to balk at spending hundreds of dollars on flights, hotel rooms, dinners, and travel. Instead, I have to look at it more openly: these are investments that will pay off (usually quickly) in terms of the knowledge I’ll gain and the relationships I build.
The simple fact of the matter is this: the more money I invest in my education–both as a coach and as a businessman–the more successful I consistently become in both arenas.
Of course, as this is a fitness related blog, it’s worth noting that one of the best investments you can make is in yourself: in your health and in your sexiness.
Why spend money on an “object” to decorate your body when you can spend the money on food and books that will allow you to make your body more desirable?
Is it more important to leave an extra hundred bucks in your savings account, or to use it on things that will allow you to live a longer and healthier life so that you can, in the long run, earn hundreds or even thousands MORE dollars by being sick less often and being able to work harder?
This has always been my mindset when it comes to my body. I prefer to spend money on organic foods, or supplements I consider to be essential than on crap I don’t need. (I sense a Tyler Durden quote somewhere in here).
When times have been tough financially, I simply cut back on other areas: less clothing, for example. In my view, I’d rather spend the money on building a nice body than on nice clothes to cover up one I’m not proud of.
And this year, I’ll continue to invest in my body and my business, so I can continue to pay it forward: giving the best information I can to my readers, and having a body that makes me proud and serves as the calling card for this business and the knowledge this site represents.