Two weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal ran an article titled “The Best (and Worst) Investments They Ever Made.” The interviewees for the article included a former Federal Reserve Chairman, two Nobel laureates in economics, a Hall of Fame Major League Baseball manager and many others. East Tennessee’s own Dolly Parton even shared a response.
The stories of lessons learned were filled with affirmation and common sense…avoid stock picking, timing the market, excessive leverage, and investing in things you don’t understand; instead, use low cost investments, diversify your holdings and most importantly, invest time in yourself and your family.
With the New Year up and running, the article was quite timely. After all, what better time for self-reflection than during the season of new beginnings? That said, the article encouraged me to consider my best and worst investments, and more importantly, what I learned as a result of those decisions.
My worst investment was immediately investing just about everything I earned in technology stocks in 1999 and 2000. Why was it the worst? I lost almost everything. Why did I do it? Two reasons: first, I had little training or experience and second, I made bad assumptions. All the other brokers at the big firm where I worked were investing in the “this time it’s different” environment. Add my arrogance and naiveté to the circumstances and, well, you get the picture.
Just like the interviewees for the article previously mentioned, my “worst” investments were financial in nature. My best investments (and the lessons learned) had nothing to do with money at all. They were more about behavior adjustments and investing time and energy in non-financial items…reading books, becoming a better listener, honing a craft, seeking wise counsel and taking advantage of a strong work ethic. Ultimately, it’s all about how we use our time.
Each of us has the opportunity to make money; time on the other hand is finite and we all get the same amount to spend or invest. Here are a few thoughts on investing your time wisely.
1. We should be conscious of whether we are spending our time or investing our time. The difference being that investing our time should bring value to ourselves and others.
2. Life is busy, but being overcommitted shouldn’t be a badge of honor. Learning to say no can be one of the most freeing experiences any of us will ever have.
3. Time passes quicker than we like. Sometimes we get so busy building our kingdoms we forget that our legacies are often sleeping in the room down the hall.
So for 2015, make smart financial decisions, but more importantly, be aware of how you invest your most precious commodity…your time.