People often ask me, as a young person, what kind of things should I be considering investing in? And my answer often surprises them. In my opinion, the number one best thing a young person can invest in is themselves. The sooner you realise the benefits of investing in yourself, in a way that pays in real dividends, the better off you’ll be. So, in the interest of self-improvement that actually pays off, here are the four key things to invest in that will build towards a brighter future for yourself.

1. Invest in direction
At an early age, we are told by our well-meaning teachers and parents that we can be whatever we want to be. This is positive advice, but in reality it might not be so practical. Sure, when you’re five years old you may want to be a rockstar, but the chance of that career goal actually coming to fruition is enormously slim. Following your passion might sound like a great idea, but quite often, this path won’t be able to sustain the lifestyle you desire. To discover what your best direction is, start by exploring different career ideas that interest you. Whether it’s a corporate career or coal-mining, be sure to commit yourself to whichever direction you choose.

2.Invest in skills
Once you’ve figured out your direction, your next move is to invest in the required skills. What avenues are available for you to become well-versed in your chosen topic? Can you undertake additional classes, expand on your degree or gain a relevant certificate? There is a wealth of knowledge available from many different sources. Scour the Internet for things like webinars, online workshops or conferences, and read up on as much as you can.

Subscribe to any publications that can help educate you, and stay on trend with the latest knowledge. Never stop learning.

3.Invest in time
One of my favourite sayings is: Success does not happen overnight. No matter what your investment is – whether it’s yourself or a property – you have to be prepared to put in the time too. The hours you put into consistently investing in yourself will be a strong determinant of how your future turns out. And we all know ‘time is money’. So, instead of spending your time, start investing it instead. Consider the following: Are you wasting time in a job you absolutely can’t stand? Do you use your leisure time to do things that bring you joy and happiness, or things that you couldn’t give two shakes about? Do you waste time complaining about problems instead of using it to change them? Your time is immensely valuable, and can be used to either benefit or obstruct your progress. Put it towards better investments, and you’ll always come out on top.

4.Invest in Action
This advice isn’t only relevant to younger people, either. It’s never too late to take action and change careers or life paths, so check your current situation. Is it where you want to be? If not, are you at least on the right path? If you feel like your return on life isn’t as great as your potential, consider whether a change is on the cards. Our creativity and intelligence doesn’t diminish as we age, you just have to maintain confidence in your ability to either learn new tricks or build on the ones you already know. Set some goals, both financial and otherwise, and work towards achieving them. By keeping in mind the importance of investing in yourself, you’ll be able to build towards a better, brighter future – no matter what stage of life you’re in.
Rather than putting your time, money and effort into something that won’t bring you great value, invest in something that will. The only thing that limits your own possibilities is you. And when you invest in yourself, you’re the only one who has the final say on whether it’s a failed or successful investment.