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7 Powerful Ways To Invest In Yourself

7 Powerful Ways To Invest In Yourself

Investment legend, Warren Buffett once said the best investment anyone can make is in themselves. He wasn’t being philosophical when he said that. Economists may tell you that investing in yourself builds human capital. In other words, if you put enough time and energy into learning new skills you’ll never have to worry about financial security or finding a job.

Here are the seven best ways to improve and invest in yourself.

1. Get certified training

Learning should never really end. Even if you’ve recently graduated, there are a lot of ways you can (and should) stay ahead of the crowd. Sign up for courses in business management or get a professional qualification in your industry.

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Not only will this set you apart from rivals, but it will also help you deliver a professional service to whoever you work with. A lot of these certified courses are designed to be flexible, so you don’t have to spend too much time away from work.

These courses are also regularly updated with the latest trends in your industry, so you’ll stay updated with the cutting edge in your field.

2. Join a special interest group

Special interest groups can help you create a network of like-minded people. There’s absolutely no limit to how much you can learn from the experiences of others. Every new person you meet brings a unique perspective and a ton of fresh ideas you can apply to your work right away.

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3. Read

From Bill Gates to Elon Musk, a lot of super successful business leaders have said that their reading habit is the key to their success. Reading is a habit that will genuinely transform your life. You can start by reading just a few pages a day, every day and keep doing it forever.

4. Gamify learning

Leverage technology to make learning fun. A lot of learning apps are designed like games to aid the learning process. Solving math quizzes is a lot more fun when you’re trying to set the high score.

5. Step out of your comfort zone

Step out of your circle of competence on occasion. Try to learn skills you’ve never considered before and don’t be afraid to look silly as you take on something uncomfortable. Even if you don’t master a new skill, attempting it will boost your confidence immensely.

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6. Track your progress

If you’ve decided to invest time and money in mastering a new skill or getting a new qualification, track your progress. Track the number of hours you’ve spent reading or the number of tests you took. Tracking your progress will motivate you when you’re slacking off and help you see how far you’ve come after a while.

If you’ve been to business school, you’ve probably heard of the Japanese Kaizen philosophy. It’s a system of constant and gradual improvement that Japanese companies have used to develop a world-class manufacturing sector. But this system can also be used to help you realize your full potential. Take small but meaningful steps every day to improve yourself.

7. Create something tangible

Taking time and effort to create something tangible is a great way to grow yourself as a person. Creating something that can be seen and comprehended will provide you with utmost satisfaction. It will not only create an instant feel good factor but also will inspire you in the future in case you have any doubt upon yourself.

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You could try anything from painting, sculpting, and poetry to writing computer programs or working on a DIY project. It doesn’t even have to be particularly good. The sense of accomplishment from being able to create something is more than a valid reason to spend your time and energy.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via static.pexels.com

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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