You are your most important asset. Just in case you’ve never heard those words before. That statement is usually followed by some really vague advice about investing in yourself. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, we should really invest in ourselves as all we do and produce comes from within us. The question as to how we practically invest in ourselves is not so easy to answer. We have different values and therefore priorities. However, we can put together a shortlist of 5 ways to practically invest in yourself to improve yourself. That which is not improving is not growing. That which is not growing is dying.

Books

I put these first on the list because of how easy they are to access but also because they offer perhaps the widest array of ways they impact and improve you. Some highly recommend non-fiction works and biographies but even fictional works have a role to play in expanding the mind. Books allow access to information, scenes, stories, cultures and schools of thought that one may not easily have access to ordinarily. Strive Masiyiwa credits reading as the most important thing he does. With access to print books, ebooks, audiobooks and second-hand providers there really is no excuse to not read.

Seminars and courses

Seminars and short courses provide great ways to gain specialised knowledge in your area of expertise. With the advent of Massive Open Online Campuses (MOOCs) access to courses in a variety of disciplines just got a whole lot easier for people, breaking traditional access barriers. Short courses can be used to deepen knowledge in a particular field or extend your knowledge to related fields. Seminars in addition to offering in-depth analysis on particular subjects also provide opportunities to network with people in those fields.

Networking

Not often touted as a self-investment method networking may be one of the best things you can invest in to improve yourself. After all “your network is your net worth”. Connecting with highly skilled people in various fields can be the leg up you need. Sometimes even just knowing the people in your own field better. The value of relationships created in the process of networking cannot be overstated. You will often hear successful entrepreneurs make reference to how they can call on and discuss ideas with some industry experts and they credit these discussions with helping them focus on critical areas in their ideas.

Travel

Another one that is highly underrated is travel, at least on the surface. The number of times I have heard entrepreneur stories that start with “While I was in such a place I got an idea…” cannot easily be quantified but suffice it to say it is often. Travel is about observing different cultures and customs and gaining an appreciation for the diversity that the world has to offer. We’ve seen time and time again Big European brands copy or appropriate African designs into their collections and make big money off it. The relationship goes both ways in all honesty. While a trip to Shenzhen China would be great for the tech entrepreneur a trip to Mberengwa may be just as rewarding or perhaps even more so. It’s not about taking pictures in Bali or Santorini but rather about experiencing different cultures and ideas.

Health

Half of the battle of success is sticking around long enough to see it through. While nothing can guarantee long life investing in your health will certainly mean you show up with the best version of yourself to tackle the tasks you must in order to succeed. Healthy eating, exercise, rest and the often understated mental health aspects are all important to keeping yourself healthy. Investing in a gym membership or a good pair of running shoes is good for exercise. Insurance such as medical aid will help you get regular health checks and assessments. What’s important is knowing the condition of your mind and body in order to live in a manner that provides you with the best fighting chance.

How much should you invest? The size of your goals and your wallet will inform you of that. What is important is to make some sort of investment in each of the five aforementioned areas.