The Secret to Success

I would like to start off this month’s commentary by encouraging you to live the highest quality of life you can.  Let’s take risks, face fears and make the most of every day. We need to take control of the things within our control, stop worrying about the things outside of our control, make purposeful choices and live a wonderful life. But let’s face it: some days are just plain ol’ bad. Other days are just average. Every day can’t be extraordinary and that is alright. Every minute can’t be about living life to the fullest, in fact that sounds rather exhausting! However, the sum of our seconds, minutes and days should equal something above-average to really-damn-good. Why? Because we are too busy facing reality and making good choices to YOLO on the regular.

All of this ties into theories on human capital. Everyone has human capital – it is who you are, your knowledge, personality, habits and social attributes. All of these contribute to your potential to produce economic value (in other words: your gross income or revenue, monetary or intangible). If we are true to ourselves and we make the most of the qualities native to us, we can maximize our human capital and thereby be the best version of our value-creating selves. I spend a lot of time in my commentaries discussing how and why we should cut costs. Yet maximizing income is the most important part of the equation. There will be no money to save if we don’t get out there and make it. We can penny pinch our lives away, but I know this won’t lead to our highest quality of life.

Your Cash Flow over Time

In the name of frugality, we don’t want to:

  • Wait until a heat wave to turn on the air-conditioner
  • Not enjoy a night out with friends or family
  • Waste a half an hour looking for the lowest priced gas station
  • Clip coupons every Sunday, despite having drawers overflowing with them
  • Live life saying no… to everything

Our time and our human capital are too valuable to be squandered in such a manner. If we are able to make $50 per hour working, it’s inane to waste $25 looking for gas for a half an hour to save $1.50. Part of living life to the fullest is recognizing and honing our strengths, while relishing the time we have on Earth. It means sacrificing the things that mean very little to us in order to have the time and the money to enjoy the things we love. It also means creating economic value by working on projects that are meaningful to us and that best fit our personal characteristics.

Wealth isn’t only measured in dollar signs. You’re a big part of your net worth. The best part about human capital is that it’s not static! It is entirely within your control to improve or change your skills. The people who are successful decide they will be successful. They choose to study hard and to work hard. They choose to be the first person at work and the last person who leaves. They take on the hard jobs and the challenges. They take ownership when no one else will. They aren’t inhibited by nature or nurture, instead they overcome both.

It’s never too late to start! We tend to focus on the flaws of older brains, overlooking how capable they’ve become. Growing evidence proves the adult brain to be more malleable than originally assumed. The adult brain continues to develop through and beyond middle age, despite cranial plasticity reaching a peak in our early 20s. Increased mental capacity will continue throughout life if we perform a variety of mental and physical activities. At every age, you decide where to focus your efforts. It’s not about where you come from or who you were, it’s about the choices you make in the present. Choose to be the person you want to be. Choose to increase your human capital:

Human Capital Table

Life is a balancing act. We need to define and prioritize our goals to be successful. We can give up time with friends or family to increase our professional skills. We can give up happy hours after work to take night classes. Or we can forego both and enjoy our leisure time. As long as we are progressing in skills or knowledge, we will improve our financial situation. It won’t happen overnight, but eventually we will see our performance (and our paycheck!) rise. Control the things within our control. Increasing human capital is one of the best ways to achieve financial security on our terms.