Learn how to invest your life wisely.
“The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why. “
— The Apocryphal Twain
Life is not just something that happens to us; we make it happen.
We measure life quantitatively. But, like money, life’s intrinsic value is subjective — we all invest or waste it differently.
Your life is your most valuable asset — the wiser your decisions, the more you’ll get in return.
Are you wasting, saving, spending, or investing your life?
Treat Your Life Like an Asset
Life, like money, is a limited resource. No matter how much you have, it never feels enough — our wishlist is endless.
The value of money doesn’t lie in quantity, though, but in how you manage it.
Consciously or not, we fall prey to our emotions. Guilt, love, fear, hate, envy — to name a few — shape our decisions — most of us are even afraid of being happy. That’s why we have extreme relationships with money (and life).
Some people are happy when they have large amounts to spend. Many feel guilty and waste it compulsively — or merely avoid financial conversations. Others are afraid of their future and save everything for a ‘rainy day.’
Life is your most precious asset — manage it wisely.
Financial advisors say that your relationship with money determines how you manage it. The same happens with life. The better you understand your relationship with it, the better you can manage life.
Time and effort are what you pay — value is what you get in return.
Which Life Management Type Are You?
“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
Piggybacking on existing ‘money relationship’ segmentations, I developed the following Life Management types. It’s meant to help you understand and reflect on your style.
I landed in four segments to keep it simple — most of us are a combination of some of these types. What about yourself?
1. Spenders — “I deserve to have it.”
“Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.”
— Dr. Seuss
Life is meant to be lived to the fullest.
Spenders don’t plan for the future; they live the moment. They need to feel excited — they want to appreciate everything that happens around them.
Spenders associate experiences with self-worth — the more they do, the more valuable their life becomes.
They live like there’s no tomorrow. Spenders tend to be driven by emotions and to act compulsively. That’s why they don’t plan for the future.
If you are a Spender, you want to enjoy life to the fullest — you seek immediate pleasure. You probably get satisfaction in doing lots of stuff and having fun with others. You usually accept most invitations and opportunities.
You find it hard to prioritize — chasing every exciting opportunity keeps you busy all the time. ‘Seizing the day’ every day drains your energy. Start by saying ‘no’ — focusing will get you time to invest in your future.
2. Hoarders — “I like stability and belonging.”
“If anyone on the verge of action should judge himself according to the outcome, he would never begin.” ― Søren Kierkegaard
Life feels scary.
Hoarders worry about the future; they have a hard time enjoying the present. Life’s uncertainty and unpredictability make them very anxious.
Hoarders like to be in control of their lives — they don’t want to waste their energy and time.
They like to prioritize their goals. They are analytical and have a rational approach to living. That’s why they are risk-averse.
If you are a Hoarder, you most likely have a hard time enjoying life. Worrying about being successful or happy in the future makes you forgo opportunities to explore and grow beyond your comfort zone.
You are afraid of making mistakes — one false move can break your stability. By saving for the right moment, you are missing to enjoy the here and now. Take baby steps towards loosening up — a little bit of exploration won’t bankrupt your life.
3. Gamblers— “Fortune favors the bold.”
“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” — Mark Zuckerberg
Life is a big bet.
Gamblers love taking risks; they want to win big in life. The thrill of the chase makes them feel excited — uncertainty is their fuel.
Gamblers are driven by a larger dream — they want the most substantial return possible.
Gamblers approach life as a game; they invest and bet towards a brighter future. Gamblers are driven by their purpose and ambitions. That’s why taking risks brings meaning to their lives.
If you are a Gambler, you want to explore life — if you are not experimenting, you feel your pockets are empty. You don’t want to feel any regrets about not having tried something.
You find it hard to enjoy what you have — continually seeking the thrill does not let you focus on the present. Start by slowing down a little — give yourself the chance to discover the value of familiar things.
4. Avoiders — “I’m not prepared to manage my life.”
“Don’t you ever get the feeling that all your life is going by and you’re not taking advantage of it?” — Ernest Hemingway
Life happens too fast.
Avoiders don’t live in the present, neither think about their future. They feel guilty — they believe they don’t deserve enjoying life.
Avoiders live in autopilot — life happens to them instead of them being in control.
They go through life. Avoiders tend to be driven by guilt and a sense of inadequacy. That’s why they procrastinate, reflecting, and acting upon.
If you are an Avoider, you don’t want to confront your reality — pausing makes you more anxious. You probably seek escapism in entertainment or via other distractions or short-term fixes. You usually suffer from analysis-paralysis.
You find it hard to take control of your life — you feel incompetent to understand and manage goals and priorities. Start by being less harsh on yourself — take time to reflect and see yourself clearly.
7 Ways to Invest Your Life Wisely
“The most important investment you can make is in yourself.” — Warren Buffett
1. Bet on yourself:
Fear of living is how most people waste their lives. Until it’s too late. You can always overcome mistakes, but regret lasts forever. Take a leap of faith.
Søren Kierkegaard discussed that thinking, most of the time, can turn against ourselves — too many thoughts feed skepticism. This thinking about itself never accomplishes anything.
When we stop “thinking’s self-reflection,” we take a leap of faith. As the Danish Philosopher put it: “Hope is a passion for the possible.”
2. Avoid wasting your life:
You can’t make wise decisions if you don’t know what you want. Regain control. Start by understanding what’s your life purpose: what’s the impact that you want to create in those around you?
Then set up clear goals, both short and long-term. Start small. Prioritize how you invest your time and energy based on those objectives.
Clarity boots your life, as I wrote here.
3. Don’t save everything for tomorrow:
Learn to live in the here and now. If you made a wrong decision, learn to move on. Don’t get stuck punishing yourself for the life that you wasted. What have you learned? What can you do differently today?
Enjoying the present will help you plan for a better future.
4. Invest in your purpose:
Embrace the Gambler in you — let your dreams illuminate your decisions. Your purpose is a lighthouse that guides you in the right direction, especially when you are navigating the storms of life.
Having a clear purpose, not only energizes you but helps you make wiser decisions. It’s easier to invest your assets when you know what to say ‘no’ to.
How do you want to be remembered when you are gone?
5. Spend today, but fund your future too:
Enjoy the present, but not at the expense of the future. Invest time and effort to become better at managing your life. Success is a byproduct of self-discipline — it requires a method, not just a positive attitude.
Allocate time for learning new skills for improving your abilities as well as explore the unknown. Most importantly, save time for yourself — growing your life fund requires investing in personal development.
6. Balance your portfolio:
Putting all your eggs in the same basket is not a wise decision. Invest most of your effort into what you are good at. But, also, allocate enough ‘funding’ to learn new things or to overcome your weaknesses.
Being a compulsive Spender can be as harmful as being a Hoarder all the time. Learn to take risks and break the rules with a method, as I explained here, not just for the thrill of it.
7. Become your best life advisor
Anyone can tell you what to do, but no one knows you better than yourself. Even Avoiders have more self-knowledge than they think.
In the end, we are all alone. People will insist on giving you their best advice, regardless if you ask for it or not. However, you must own your decisions. Regret is a lonely emotion — it’s you and you alone.
Life is your most valuable currency. You can manage it in any way you want. However, once you spend it, there’s no way back. Be wise with your most precious asset.
Paraphrasing Mahatma Gandhi: “Invest in your life as you are going to live forever. Spend it as you are going to die tomorrow.”
Become your best life advisor.