By Joe Delaney
Are you getting good returns on all your investments? There may be some you’re not even looking at.
Usually the topic of investing is constrained to financial instruments. Advisors assess risk and calculate gains. It’s all about the numbers.
Maybe your financial assets are appreciating in value, but it’s time to wake up to deficits you have in the value of other assets. Life assets. Here are four ways to “reallocate” some financial resources to improve overall life gains.
- Invest in time with (guy/girl) friends.
I recently went on a trip to Southern Utah with guy friends who have been in my life for nearly 40 years. We camped out under the stars, sat around a fire and talked like only old friends do.
We celebrated the things we were thankful for. We shared our life challenges, too: health struggles, loss of loved ones, broken relationships.
Studies show that friendships among others of the same gender help us not only cope with stress, but become more resilient to it. In other words, we invested in each other on that trip. The memories we made are paying great dividends no calculator can measure.
- Invest in unplugging.
If you’re a strictly analytical person, you might think that this was nice, but ultimately unproductive time. A loss to make up when you get back to the office. Thus, you’d better have your iPhone handy to keep in touch.
I didn’t. For the first time in years, I completely unplugged over this eight-day trip. (I had to. This was Southern Utah!)
The result? I did not come back feeling overwhelmed by the need to catch up. I think the reason is because one of the benefits of letting go of your mental load for awhile is increased mental power. Another excellent return.
- Invest in stress reduction.
This was a trip that we go on once a year. Most of us are former lifeguards, so it usually has a physical component to it. This time it was mountain biking, hiking and river rafting.
It is well documented that exercise helps reduce stress. We all know it, but we don’t always believe it, and we certainly don’t always act on the knowledge.
All I can offer you is my personal experience. I feel happier and I am able to serve my clients better when I exercise. It was a better investment of my physical energy over those eight days than a week of appointments.
For you, it may be yoga, meditation, prayer. Whatever you engage in to reduce stress, stop thinking of it as unproductive time. It is producing a greater return on the investment than you know.
- Invest in getting away.
You can spend time with friends, unplug and exercise without going to Utah; but you should also go to Utah. Or the destination of your choice.
The reason is incredibly simple. Research shows you get a huge boost in happiness just from planning a vacation. Think about that for a moment. Just by putting it on your calendar and making the necessary arrangements, you can start feeling improved mental health long before you even leave town.
There is something about telling your brain that you will be fully immersed in another place, in another state of mind, working your muscles and sharing your heart with people you enjoy, that unlocks the mental and physical benefits long before it even happens.
That was certainly true for me. I was looking forward to this trip, and I was not disappointed.
EXPENSE OR INVESTMENT?
It’s true that there was some expense involved with this trip. If you make plans to get away, you are going to spend money and time away from work. That may sound stressful to you at first.
My professional advice is to look beyond your bank accounts, beyond your portfolio, and consider the losses that may not show up on the balance sheet.
Making dinner reservations with an old friend; missing a few business calls because your phone is off; buying a new pair of running shoes; purchasing airline tickets to your summer vacation destination; these all involve what you might think of as an “expense”.
As your financial lifeguard, I’m telling you from experience that they are not. These are some of the most important investments you will ever make. The return on your investment may not show up on any balance sheet, but by the end of your days, they are some of the ones you will value the most.
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