When you think of your best investments, does a particular stock, collectable, digital currency, or real estate come to mind?  For me, I believe my best investment is my health.  As we mark the one-year point into this pandemic, it’s difficult at times to recall how easily we moved through our daily lives pre-Covid.  Personal experience is a great teacher and I value my health much more today than ever before.

Our personal health is a tricky investment to manage and maintain, not so different from the various companies in a portfolio.  Sometimes up, sometimes down, at times flat or somewhere in the middle.  Managing our health takes time and effort, it’s easy to defer taking the right steps today.  There will always be something more pressing to address now or competing for our attention.  It takes purpose, raised awareness, and follow through to adopt the right habits and strengthen our health each day.

The similarities between wellness and financial investments revolve around inputs.  Sleep, diet, exercise, and quiet time/meditation all have shown in clinical studies to have a positive influence on our health.  From a financial perspective this is the equivalent of having purpose in your spending, giving your accounts a job description, investing more overtime, holding cash reserves, and remaining flexible.  Both our health and investments require consistent positive inputs to achieve the meaningful results we seek.

Personally, I logged fewer miles on the bike this winter and am looking forward to warmer temps.  Peddling outside is so much more fun than indoor riding.  I recognize my fitness should include a variety of activities to keep things fresh.  When it got too cold to ride outside, I turned to longer walks with our dog and strength training. Consistency matters and often it was just too convenient to skip a workout or take the shorter dog walk.  As spring arrives and the days grow longer, I hope to be more consistent and back outside on my bike.

Other inputs to better our health include what we consume.  Over a month ago I changed my diet to completely plant based removing all dairy, sugars, and meats.  Why?  To experiment and see if the results are as powerful as I’ve read about.  Just like investments, some lessons are best learned firsthand and may generate outcomes that we don’t expect.  Losing a bit of weight was nice and to be expected.  What was surprising was the clarity in my thinking and decision making.  I seem to have more focus in all areas of my life now than I did previously.  Is that for real or just my imagination?  I’m not sure but I’ll take it.  Other positive outcomes include consistently better sleep scores via my Fitbit.  It’s early and like a lot of investments, both financial and health related, time and consistency will be the greatest influencer on future success.  I’m interested to see how this dietary change impacts my energy level and strength as physical activity increases, stay tuned.

Time is a great investment when used wisely.  Without structure time seems to evaporate.  Delegating work, saying no, and working with professionals who may do a better job than I can is a no-brainer.  This allows me to maximize my time and create energy doing my best work.  Running the firm and serving as the lead financial planner means surrounding myself with great professionals.  What this looks like in practice includes a partnership with a full time paraplanner of almost ten years, access to accountants and attorneys for advice outside my scope of expertise, a bookkeeper and payroll company to keep things tight and moving in the right direction.  These individuals allow me to build a business that fits my life and allows me to maximize my time.  This leads me to spend more time doing the stuff I’m great at so I may have an impact on others.

Relationships are a great investment.  Who you spend time with and are contributing to daily makes a difference.  We are who we hang out with.  This has been stressed by the pandemic and all the social distancing taking place the past year.  I’m really looking forward to visiting family more frequently and sitting down with clients for engaging in person conversations again.  We are all social creatures that need one another, hopefully things return to a more normal state later in the year.

What about financial investments?  Surely as a planner these matter right?  Yes, investments are important and ultimately generate income when you repurpose your time.  As I see it, making investments in your health, time, and relationships is a priority.  Not doing so will leave you empty and there is no financial account balance that will ever overcome that.  You get the most out of life, family, friends, and time with clients when you understand what your best investments truly are.  Life is short, let’s get after it!

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