Investing in yourself. Do you really believe that?

“How much money have you invested in yourself in the last three years?” The silence following this question is deafening. This answer is sooner the rule than the exception. I often pose this question when someone tells me that investing in himself means everything to him, and it hardly happens that someone has an answer.

‘Investing in yourself’. It sounds wonderful, powerful even. It seems to express a statement that says: I am worth the investment! All the more surprised I am when someone turns out not to invest even one euro in himself.

The boss pays, so it’s the boss who invests!

In practice it’s the employer that’s supposed to do the investment. “Because when the employer does not invest in me, I am gone” (expressed with the same conviction as the employee wants to invest in himself).

I find this such a fascinating phenomenon. Why? To show this I will take you on a field trip to the world of the ‘real’ investments.

What is investing actually?

The idea of investing is simple: you put money, time and/ or other means into something with the expectation that it will deliver more (financial) benefit in the long term.

The logical benefit that comes to mind then is that you will earn a higher salary or build a better pension. The point in this definition is not so much about the investing itself, but about the person that does the investment. That is the one that can have the expectation of the benefit on the long term. And that is clearly the employer. The benefit that the employer expects is that you will increase your performances. That can be for the short term, but also for the long term. The longer the term, the higher the odds that the invest will be paid back. So next to better performances there is the value of retention (keeping you as an employee as long as possible).

Isn’t it time to look differently at it?

Sounds logical, but do people actually still want this? Do you want this? It used to be normal to work for one employer until your retirement. But that is a dying breed. Organizations can not promise that anymore and more importantly employees themselves wouldn’t even think of it. Five years nowadays is long.

In this light it is logical that organizations are starting to question whether they still should invest so much in employees knowing that they are likely to leave the organization in a few years. When the long term value diminishes or disappears, then only the short term value remains. Which means that the employer can set demands or expectations for the employee towards delivering better results.

The long term investments have therefore become more in the interest of the employee. How will you make sure that in the near future you will also do the work you like to do? How will you invest in that?

Do you dare to invest in yourself?

By saying that you expect your employer to pay, you won’t make it that far anymore. You are now in the investors seat. And yes, a training of € 3000 is suddenly a lot of money. Just as much as when your employer paid for it, only know you feel it yourself. And that is a good thing. It really makes you think. But it requires you to shift your focus from “what it costs” to “what it’s worth”. Is it worth investing € 3000 euro in yourself? Do you believe that you will benefit from it on the long term? It is not for nothing that investors ask an entrepreneur how much they have invested themselves in his own company. It’s not about the euros, it’s about the belief the entrepreneur has in his company (and in himself). So how much belief do you have in yourself and how important is it to you to invest real money in yourself?

And out of experience I can tell you that really investing in yourself you also benefit on the short term because of the powerful feeling it gives to you. It gives you a feeling of freedom and autonomy. That alone is already worth the investment.

Are you prepared to invest in yourself? And what makes that you either do it or not?

In the coming blogs about this theme I will talk about risk appetite, Return on Investment and investment sources. Want to receive these as the first in your mailbox? Leave behind a comment with “investing in myself” or send an E-mail to

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