Forget Roth, Here’s Your Single Best Investment

What’s the one investment that can double, triple, or even ten-x your wealth and keep producing a steady stream of income no matter what life throws your way?

It’s human capital.

Indeed, investing in yourself is the single most valuable component of wealth building. And yet, it often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

And, so, what exactly is human capital?

Well, you can think of human capital as the unique value that you bring to the world. In a way, it’s like an invisible backpack of everything you know and can do that adds value to yourself and the people around you.

In fact, you can think of your own human capital like you would a character in a video game, where the more skills and abilities your character gains, the more valuable your character becomes over time.

And just like in a video game, the more skills and experience you collect, the stronger and more valuable you become, allowing you to level up and take on greater challenges and responsibilities in the game of life.

Now, as critical as human capital sounds, the truth is that many individuals believe that human capital development stops after college.

The fact is, however, that if you’re looking for a way to supercharge your path to financial independence and preserve the wealth you have today, then understanding who you need to become, executing like a pro, and taking your skills to the right arena can ensure that you’re making the most of your most vital wealth-building asset.

The Power of Becoming Yourself

Alright, so if human capital is one of the most valuable components to getting what we want out of life, where do you start? Well, the first place to start is by first understanding who you need to become. You see, for many of us, up until our twenties or thirties, we’re simply following the scripts handed to us by our family, friends, colleagues, and society at large. And so, more often than not, developing your skills often means doing what you think others want you to do so that you can get what you want.

The truth is, however, that developing your human capital is intrinsically tied to a more profound journey of self-awareness, personal growth, and self-actualization or becoming the best version of yourself. Indeed, Richard Rohr, a Franciscan monk who has spent his time sharing his thoughts on this perspective, says that when we embark on the path of understanding who we need to become, then our growth efforts naturally align with that vision, giving us a deeper sense of our own purpose and direction.

Now, this process isn’t just about amassing knowledge or skills but more about diving into the nuances of our strengths, desires, and passions.

To be sure, this journey, when done intentionally and not because others tell us we need to do it, becomes one of understanding because it acts like a motivator or a beacon that guides us through our immediate life challenges and daily obstacles. 

In fact, it fuels our perseverance, making each step forward more satisfying and meaningful. And as we continue on this path, our interactions with others become more genuine, which comes from a place of authenticity. So then, this approach not only aids in forging deeper connections in our personal and professional lives but also ensures that our growth is well-rounded and encompasses both our professional goals and personal growth.

What’s more, in a constantly evolving and changing world, having a clear internal vision of who we want to become is critical because it serves as our anchor, allowing us to adapt and navigate through changing circumstances without losing sight of our core self. 

That’s why, if developing human capital was as simple as going back to graduate school or, getting that advanced degree, or pursuing certificates to add letters behind your name to fit into other people’s mold, then you’d likely miss the bigger picture of what the process is all about.

To be sure, at its core, understanding who you need to become as you develop your human capital is about ensuring that your journey is purpose-driven and comes from a place of self-awareness so that it encompasses all facets of who you were meant to be. 

Pretty deep, right?

Create a Vision of Who You Want to Become

Well, it might seem that way when you’ve spent your entire life living other people’s scripts. Indeed, this first step is really about taking the time to understand better who you need to become so that you can intentionally do the work of developing your human capital that reflects what matters most to you.

And so, how do you go about this process?

Well, to start, you’ll want to take time to go deep into self-reflection. Listen, we’re not talking about hacks or shortcuts here. If you want to genuinely build out your most valuable asset, you need to take the time to understand what you’ve got. So then, to achieve this end, you can go out on a retreat to get away from it all for a few days, or simply go for a walk for a few hours to clear your mind. Either way, spend time reflecting on your core values, passions, strengths, and weaknesses so that you can better understand which steps to take next.

And while you’re at it, think about questions like, “When I was five years old, what was I naturally good at?” or “What sorts of projects energize me?” And, if you’re still stuck on questions to ask yourself, Warren Berger’s book on asking beautiful questions can help here. But the point is to prompt questions to help you craft a vision of your ideal future self based on the qualities, skills, and experiences you aim to possess. Indeed, what you’re doing is creating a mental image of who you want to become, which can act as a guiding force in your journey of discovery.

Goals as Milestones

Now, once you have an idea of where you’re going and who you need to become, like anything worth pursuing in life, you’ll need to set meaningful goals so you can achieve what’s essential to you. That’s why you’ll need to take that grand vision of your future self and break it down into smaller, more achievable milestones. These smaller goals can act as mile markers on your journey, ensuring you’re moving in the right direction when you feel lost or tired.

And so, how do you know which direction you should head? Well, to figure this out the next thing you’ll want to do is to get feedback from trusted individuals in your life to help identify gaps between who you are today, and who you want to become. Here, you’ll want to engage with trusted mentors, friends, or colleagues who can provide a clearer understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and to help you better understand the skillsets and blindspots you have today that are either helping or hindering you from becoming the ideal version of yourself.

Now, given your intrinsic goals, coupled with this feedback, you can prioritize your learning that aligns with a grander vision of who you want to become. Indeed, this skills development can come through formal education, online resources, books, or experiential workshops. Either way, the point here is not just about acquiring degrees or credentials because other people expect you to do so.

Rather what you’re doing is educating yourself as a way to ensure that you’re constantly acquiring knowledge and skills that align with your envisioned path. And, by taking on this transformative journey with self-awareness and intentionality, you’ll likely have the ability to develop your human capital authentically which ultimately will allow you to provide immense value to those around you.

Execution: More than Just a Dream

Alright, now that you understand how to align your human capital development with who you want to become, let’s talk about actually doing the work. Now, when you embark on this journey of understanding and developing your human capital, execution is the bridge between what you’d like to achieve and the likelihood that you’ll actually get it.

Make no mistake, while introspection, vision crafting, and planning are essential components for laying the groundwork for your human capital development, it’s through execution (or doing the work) that your ideas and aspirations actually materialize.

For example, imagine that you have all the knowledge about a specific skill or a concept, but you never apply it. It’s like the man or woman who has spent all their time reading about training routines, supplements, gear, and other hacks necessary to complete a marathon, and yet they never get off the couch. In situations like these, all their work remains theoretical.

Indeed, without execution, your understanding remains within you, untouched and, more importantly, unchallenged by the outside world. That’s why, by actively executing, what you’re doing is translating your internal insights, growth, and learnings into tangible results, whether that’s in personal achievements, professional projects, or the relationships you foster.

To be sure, execution also allows you to put your game plan to the test as you encounter real-world challenges. Here again, it’s one thing to anticipate obstacles in your mind, but facing them head-on offers a learning experience from the school of hard knocks that you can’t get in a classroom setting.

And so, as you confront these challenges, you’re forced to adapt, learn, and refine your approach, which at the same time allows you to enhance your skills and deepen your understanding in the process.

At the same time, when you execute consistently, what you’re doing is reinforcing your commitment to your goals. And this is crucial because, as James Clear puts it, every action you take is a vote for the type of person you want to become. It’s a testament to your dedication and the seriousness with which you approach your vision.

And you know, when you’re serious in your approach, your actions have the ability to boost your own self-confidence and build credibility with others, showing them that you’re not just a dreamer, but a doer.

In essence, while the journey of understanding who you need to become is deeply personal and introspective, it’s the act of execution that propels you forward, which makes your vision a tangible reality. So then, as you navigate the path of personal and professional growth, remember that it’s your actions, through your execution, that truly bring your aspirations to life.

Take Your Skills to the Right Arena

Alright, so now that we’ve talked about developing your human capital by first identifying who you want to become and then actually doing the work, let’s talk about taking your skills to the right arena.

And what do we mean about bringing your skills to the right arena? Well, you can think of it like the story of the priceless stone. Now, there are many renditions of this story, but in its essence, the story is about a boy who one day asks his father to tell him the value of his own life.

Well, the kid’s father gives the boy a stone, and tells him to successively take it to a market, a jeweler and a museum to see how individuals in each of those settings would value the stone. And so, as he does this, the boy ultimately discovers that while the market shoppers see the stone as just another rock and offer him just a little money for his troubles, the jeweler recognizes its worth as a gemstone and offers the kid real money, while at the museum, its historical significance makes the stone nearly priceless.

So then, at its core, the boy’s father uses this exercise to teach him that external appraisals from others don’t determine the value of his life. To be sure, the story goes to show that intrinsic value, or what we believe we’re worth, often varies depending on where and with whom the boy chooses to “place” himself. And so, the story underscores the importance of understanding one’s worth and not allowing ourselves to settle for little gains, especially when what we bring to the table can be valued so much higher in the right setting.

To be sure, your human capital, which encompasses your skills, talents, and the unique value you bring, is like that precious stone. And so, while developing your skills and talents is undeniably essential, when it comes down to it, where and how you choose to showcase those skills can dramatically influence the return you get on the investment you’ve made in yourself.

And what exactly are we talking about here?

Well, if you’re in a personal or professional relationship that doesn’t recognize or value your unique skills or talents, then, over time, you’ll likely feel underappreciated, stifled, or even out of place. In fact, in the wrong environment, it can feel like no matter how much you improve or develop, you’ll never be good enough, which can ultimately lead to feelings of frustration, devaluation, or even questioning your own sense of self-worth. 

And, just like that precious stone we talked about a moment ago, in the wrong environment, no matter what you do, your brilliance could remain hidden or undervalued, which, over time, can not only erode your confidence and limit your potential growth, but also limit the full value that you could otherwise get from your intrinsic human capital.

Now, with all that said, when you find the right arena to showcase your skills, you’ll likely be able to amplify your own value and naturally supercharge how quickly you achieve your goals in extremely short order. What’s more, when you’re surrounded by individuals or teams that complement and value your skills, collaborative efforts can lead to outcomes greater than the sum of individual efforts you find yourself in.

To be sure, in an environment where your skills are recognized, appreciated, and in demand, you’ll find more opportunities to apply them, refine them, and develop them even further. This reality not only accelerates your personal and professional growth but also brings to the fore the true value of your human capital.

And so, how do you ensure that you’re in the right arena?

Well, to start, you’ll want to have a deep understanding of your core strengths and values. Here again, to do this, you’ll need to invest the time in deep introspection to truly grasp what you bring to the table, which is why understanding who you want to become is such a critical first step. To be sure, when you know what you’re truly good at and passionate about, it’s easier to identify specific places and people where those strengths and passions will be most valued.

Now, the next thing that you’ll want to do to ensure that you’re in the right arena is to do deep research on your target environments. This could include understanding companies you’d like to work for, organizations you’d like to partner with, or communities that have a track record of valuing and nurturing the skills and attributes that you possess. 

More specifically, what you’ll want to do is set up informational interviews with people in these specific locations to get their perspectives. And if this approach is too personal for you, you could also take the time to look for testimonials, reviews, or firsthand accounts from people who have been in those environments to get a better handle on their experiences.

Either way, as you go about this process, be sure to prioritize environments that promote growth. And why is prioritizing growth important? Well, you’re either growing or dying. And so, being in a place that not only values your current skills but also fosters continuous learning can be truly rewarding because as you refine and develop your abilities, you’re in a setting that recognizes and rewards that evolution.

And finally, remember to trust your intuition. This saying seems so simple, but really is so very crucial because what’s often holding you back from leveling up in life is not your skillset, but just being in the wrong spot. It’s like a flower that’s mistakenly planted in the shade, and when moved to sunlight, blooms and shows its true colors.

To be sure, sometimes, despite all the research and feedback, your gut feeling can be a powerful guide to tell you if you’re in the right place or not. And, if you’re in an environment where you consistently feel undervalued or out of place, then it might be time to consider moving to a setting more in line with your intrinsic value.

Either way, as you go through this process, it’s essential to not only be patient but also persistent. You know, finding the right arena to showcase the unique values and talents that you bring to the table may not happen overnight. In fact, it might take trying out several different environments before you land on the one that truly values and amplifies your unique skills and contributions, but the effort is definitely worth it in the end. 

You Are Your Single Best Investment

You know, when it comes down to it, there’s only one version of you. And the journey you’re on right now, with the wealth of experiences, skills, and talents you possess, that’s your human capital.

That’s your superpower.

With that said, the challenge is that many of us were raised with a script that says: “Go to college, get a job, buy a house, get married, and save for retirement.” That’s the value you bring to the world. But the truth is that this script is often unsatisfying to most of us, which is why developing your human capital isn’t simply a chapter that ends after graduation.

Indeed, developing your human capital is a lifelong process that can pave the way toward the authentic life you genuinely desire.

Remember, your value is best realized when you deeply understand and cultivate your intrinsic worth, actively execute on your vision and place yourself in environments that recognize and nurture your unique talents and abilities.

Indeed, focusing on developing your human capital will take time and intention, but with a little persistence and patience will also take you one step closer to becoming the master of your own financial independence journey.