The Single Best Investment

 (Average read time 4.12 minutes. Highlights 38 seconds)

For centuries, people have been seeking the absolute single best investment their money, but few ever find it. Read on, I’m going to give it to you here.

The perfect investment

The ideal investment gives you the greatest return on your money, offers very little risk, and is virtually guaranteed to make you a fortune.

What are our options?

Real estate, gold, tech stocks?

Perhaps something more exotic like beachfront properties in Costa Rica or secret anti-aging cream patents, would suit you.

But what about risk?

Maybe you’re better off sticking with government guaranteed bonds so you can sleep at night.

Here are some of the historical annual returns of common investments spanning from the late 1920’s:

Large company stocks – 9.8%

Real Estate – 3.38%

Bonds – 5.5%

With the above investments, if you contributed $100, you would earn $9.80, $3.38, and $5.50 respectively at the end of the first year, if the past were predictive of the future.

Whenever I have this discussion I have to throw in the obligatory “past performance does not predict future results.”

It does give us some data to consider though.

Darren Hardy, publisher of SUCCESS Magazine, said that “Every dollar invested in your personal development adds $30 to your bottom line over your lifetime.”

Many have taken this and said investing in yourself yields a 3000% return, but hold on a minute before we get carried away with statistics.

The investment return of personal development is much more difficult to quantify than the historical data of stock and bond markets, but let’s convert that assumption into real numbers for a more accurate comparison.

The productive working years of the average adult span between ages thirty and sixty.

Before thirty, most people are in their learning phase and are not usually adding much to their net worth.

If you take the $1 to $30 over a lifetime assumption, and stretch it over thirty years, that averages a 12% annual return.

What does this look like when stacked up against other investment returns? Here’s what a hypothetical $1,000 invested at year zero would grow to after thirty years using the above rates. According to this, there is no single investable asset that provides a greater return than investing in YOU.

But what about risk?

I’ve spent my entire adult life studying successful people.

I realized early on that if you want to be great at anything you simply study the people who have already done it and model their behavior. This is true of anything from academics to sports.

In the world of “success,” as it relates to money and wealth, there are many examples from history documented in hundreds of books like Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich and Thomas Stanley’s Millionaire Next Door.

There are a few commonalities, but none more pronounced as their investment of time and money in self-development.

“Invest three percent of your income in yourself (self-development) in order to guarantee your future.” Brian Tracy

I spend an inordinate percentage of my income on my personal development.

I invest in books, CDs, DVDs, seminars, consulting and private coaching. The more I spend on personal development the more I get in return.

There is a direct correlation between the amount of time, money and energy I invest in self-improvement and the benefits I receive–not all of which are monetary.

 “Poor People Have Big TVs. Rich People Have Big Libraries.” Jim Rohn

Only the minority of people ever figure this out.

Most things in life are divided unevenly. I often cite Parateo’s 80/20 rule, but I think 95/5% is more accurate.

In this example, only 5% of the world understands that investing in self-development is the most valuable investment. Interestingly, income is similarly distributed.

If so many have become successful investing in personal development, why do so few do it?

There are a couple of reasons–the first is ignorance. We are taught that learning ends at high school or college, so most have never been exposed to the concept of lifelong learning.

They do not know that they do not know.

If you’ve read this far, you can exclude yourself from this category if it previously fit.

The Real Risk

The real reason I suspect is because it takes work and there is no instant gratification.

It’s more comfortable to work eight hours and collect a paycheck at the end of the week. And for the self-employed, the temptation is to devote all of your working hours to your customers.

Few employees take time to work on themselves just as few business owners take time from working IN their business, to work ON their business.

There are two parts to this investing in yourself equation.

There is the investment of money in educational products and coaching, but equally important is the investment of your time to learn and implementing the things you learn.

The self-help market is a $9 billion dollar industry including the weight loss products. That is a ton of money spent on self-help, but when compared to the 15 trillion dollar U.S. economy, it’s tiny—only .000006%.

In other words, for every $10,000 in U.S. products and services, only $6 is spent on self-help.

The number of people who invest in self-development is very small, but it’s actually much smaller than it appears.

I’m alleging that only 5% of the population invests in self-development, but I will take it a step further and suggest that only 5% of those buyers actually use the products and coaching they buy. 5% of 5% is almost nothing.

Said without the math, the majority never open the books they buy.

Now it should be clear why the number of people at the top of every field is so small. Very few are willing to invest in themselves to make it happen.

The Challenge

Is there anything you want get better at? It doesn’t matter what it is, I guarantee there are people who have already figured it out and can shorten your learning curve.

Maybe it’s golf, public speaking, getting out of debt, a promotion at work, improving your marriage or parenting skills. If there isn’t anything you’re interested in learning, find a book on getting motivated.

I challenge you to do two things. First, try Brian Tracy’s idea and commit at least 3% of your income to improving yourself.

It doesn’t matter what format; books, CD’s, or maybe a personal trainer, it just matters that you get started.

Second, the part that really matters, is committing a percentage of your time to working on it.

You might block out one hour per week if this is new to you. The key to making this work is to schedule the time instead of waiting until you have a spare moment. That spare moment will never come.

As time progresses and you see results, you can devote more time and money towards your goals. Success can be as addicting as heroin, but without all the nasty side effects.

I hope you’ll share your next improvement goal below. Sharing publicly has an incredible affect at keeping you motivated.

Photo: Road to success

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16 Responses to The Single Best Investment

  1. Ray says:

    This is a very good read. I never really thought about self-improvement as an “investment”. This is a great way of looking at it. This blog is one of my MUST reads.

  2. John Taumoepeau says:

    Great stuff here Chuck! I wholeheartedly agree with you. I have spent time throughout the years being “okay” at this concept. It wasn’t until 2011 that I really took it to heart.

    I know find myself the most successful that I have ever been.

    • Chuck Rylant says:

      Thanks John. I always appreciate your input. If I remember correctly, it was while we were both investing a ton of money in a high ticket seminar that we met. High return already!

  3. Chuck, I don’t comment often, but I wanted you to know that this is an EXCELLENT post! You make some very good points and I would have to agree with you that there is a strong correlation with investing in yourself and the benefits that come later…and you’re right, they aren’t just monetary. I would love to see a list of your top 5 or 10 investments in yourself…which books, conferences, classes, fitness programs, etc. that had the biggest impact.

    • Chuck Rylant says:

      Thanks Adam!! I sincerely appreciate the feedback. That is a great idea, and I’m going to think about your idea and work it into a future blog post.

  4. Dustin Hoang says:

    Chuck, I don’t comment much either but I wanted to say this article reaffirms my belief that self-development is well worth the cost of time and a bit of money. I’m only 23 but started to aggressively self develop myself at the age of 21. I first found Brian Tracy’s audiobook “The Psychology of Success” and listened to it as much as I could on the road or first thing in the morning. I eventually found Jim Rohn’s work (who has influenced me a great deal the past year) and became serious in developing myself in as much as possible through books (I read your Amazon reviews and am currently reading an information marketing book by Mr. Skrob), audiobooks, and seminars. I enjoyed this post and while I’m glad that I might be part of the minority who take self-development to heart, I hope to one day spread the works of Rohn and Tracy to as many people as I can through my own success. I look forward to learning more from your blog posts and I commend you for this “perfect investment.”

    • Chuck Rylant, MBA, CFP says:

      Dustin, I wish I were as aware at 23 years old as you are. I too have got a ton of value from Brian Tracy. I think his
      Success Mastery Academy
      is one of the most comprehensive and valuable programs on the market. It is a great value. I have not followed Jim Rohn as much as I want to, but I’m glad you mention him, because I plan to.

      Thanks for your comments and I’m glad to hear my Amazon reviews are helpful. I’d love to one day get my entire reading list there. One book at a time.

      This blog has been great for connecting with other smart people like you so I appreciate your visiting.

  5. Micheal Rubinoff says:

    I just want to mention I am just very new to blogs and truly loved you’re web-site. More than likely I’m likely to bookmark your blog . You actually have awesome stories. Many thanks for sharing your web site.

  6. Never thought of self improvement as an investment so reading this post certainly was an interesting experience. When it comes to investment topics its normally materialistic possessions so I found self improvement as an investment somewhat a new concept.

    • Chuck Rylant says:

      I’m so glad to hear that Dr. Doebler as that was my whole intent of the article. Anytime I can get someone to consider a new idea, I think I’ve done my job. Thanks for the feedback.

  7. Great blog post! I totally agree. I find it so frustrating when I see people hesitate at investing in themselves. Too many spend time worrying about the cost but not looking at the return which unlike the market they can actually control!

    • Chuck Rylant, MBA, CFP says:

      Thanks Stephanie. I have the same frustrating, especially when people complain and make excuses about life, but don’t do anything to change it.

      Perhaps I’m biased being in the advice giving business, but I’m only there because I desperately want to see people reach their full potential.

      You’re absolutely right, it is SO VERY inexpensive to gain information and wisdom that took others blood, sweat and tears and often millions of dollars in trial and error to learn.

      Thanks for contributing.

  8. Been reading Jim Rohn and Napoleon Hill for years, and these guys encouraged me to “be a student of my own life.” Since January of this year, I have routinely devoted a portion of EVERY SINGLE DAY to (a) working on myself and (b) working on (not in) my business. I very much agree with the sentiment that, even if you get the books, CDs, attend seminars or even get a coach (like I have done in the past), it does no good unless one is willing to implement those strategies. Loved this blog!

    • Chuck Rylant says:

      Thank you for visiting and the kind words Kimberly. It’s great to meet other like minded ambitious people such as you.

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