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Do you invest your money? Putting away a portion of your income into an investment plan creates more money later. With interest rates and financial pundits it is easy to see why financial investment makes sense.

But what about investment in other areas? Do you invest in your time, brain, body or space? What about investments in the books you read and friends you meet? Although few areas of life have the precision of an investment account, applying investment principles to other situations can have incredible gains.

Here are a few started points to consider your investment into life:

  1. Mind. How much time do you spend learning? Not just studying for mandatory courses, but subjects you seek out only to learn. You can’t predict the value new information will have until you learn it. So pick up a book and start investing in your brain.
  2. Body. Until medical science allows full body transplants, your stuck with your body for awhile. Putting in the right investments of exercise and healthy eating will ensure it can pay out later. Extra energy, less sick days, increased mobility and a longer life are just a few of the returns.
  3. Skills. What skills may come in handy later? Knowing how to prepare your taxes? How to fix your computer? PHP? Spend a half hour each day investing into a skill.
  4. Order. A small amount of time spent creating an organizing system can save dozens of hours otherwise lost. A simple system to order your tasks and office will keep mess from compounding.
  5. Tools. Need to upgrade your computer? Or maybe you just need to do a quick reformat to clean out the hard drive. Craftsmen keep their tools sharp, why not yours?
  6. Writing. Do your e-mails look like they were written by a thirteen year old on an instant messenger chat screen? Writing isn’t going away any time soon, so learn to communicate clearly in print.
  7. Network. Building a professional and private circle of friends is something you can’t do on demand. It takes considerable upfront investment, often when you don’t really need it. But having an extended network can give you access points to opportunities later.
  8. Communication. How are your speaking skills? Can you do a fantastic cold call? Are you good at talking to strangers? How about empathizing with a friend? Find opportunities to invest in your communication skills.
  9. Stories. Are you living a life worth talking about? I like to see interesting experiences as being investments in stories later. Do something worthy of telling stories later.
  10. Courage. Make getting uncomfortable a habit. If you regularly flex your emotional muscles in handling new situations you are better prepared for when you really need to. You don’t need to take huge steps, just small investments.
  11. Work Ethic. Invest in creating the character traits to get stuff done. Investing in these core traits are easier because the act of investment is useful in itself. While exercising at the gym may lead to a healthy body it doesn’t create new value. Finishing projects, building discipline and developing a productivity system will invest in a work ethic while adding value.
  12. Leaky Faucets. The drip-drip-drip of a leaky faucet can waste huge amounts of water over time. But water loss isn’t the only type of leaky faucet you can encounter. If a problem is small but likely to reappear, fixing it immediately can save enormous costs later.
  13. Habits. Your regular routine is an often neglected but incredibly important aspect to consider. You can’t turn yourself into a robot, but you can take simple steps to ensure your daily activities flow smoothly. Eating habits, sleeping habits, work habits and your daily rituals all contribute to your life.
  14. Strong Connections. Networking isn’t just about adding names to a Rolodex or a Blackberry. Having close professional and private bonds can be an incredible asset. Investing in empathy, listening and softer, more passive, skills can be an incredible asset in making you a people person.
  15. Rest. Frustrated stress is an emotional debt. Although it’s good to have a challenge you also need to invest in your psychological well-being. Finding outlets for frustrations and creating rituals to recover your energy can ensure you don’t accumulate debt payments later.
  16. Basics. Invest in the areas of your life that come up frequently. If mastered, basic skills, routines and places can reduce the amount of work you need to do. Basic skills such as cooking, reading, exercising and listening all benefit from investments.
  17. Appearance. You could definitely argue that the world is far too shallow, and I’d have to agree. But your appearance and attire is a subtle form of communication about yourself. So if you’ve been sporting the four day stubble and your shirt has one too many holes, maybe it’s time to invest in that first layer of communication.
  18. Business. Anyone who tells you that running an online business or self-employment is easy is either a liar or a fake. That being said, working on your entrepreneurial skills has advantages that go beyond money. Besides doing something you love, you can make new connections, build a reputation and immerse yourself in an environment of learning. I know many people that have started businesses, and while it definitely takes work, the investment is usually worth it.

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