Time, Money and Energy: Evaluating Investments and Maximizing Return

by | Aug 10, 2010 | Productivity

I just got back from Portland, Oregon where I participated in a four-day intensive retreat for creative entrepreneurs. I can safely say, beyond question, it was the best investment of time, money and energy I’ve made since starting in business. And I almost didn’t go…

Right before I officially “signed up” for the retreat, I started to question my decision. Time, money and energy are precious resources. Was this really the best investment? The scarcity mindset took over and I worried that investing so much right now would lead to a shortage of resources in the future. I’m so glad I didn’t give in to that worry. Instead, I made an intelligent investment decision which, in the long-run, will actually grow my resources.

That’s what makes a smart investment so powerful: It has the ability to grow your time, energy and money. The struggle is that an investment initially requires a sacrifice of these same resources. So the decision of how to invest has to be taken seriously. When we give these things up, we want to know that ultimately we’ll get them back in some way. Here are a few ways to evaluate investments and get the most out of them.

Mental Investment

When you invest your resources in something, you have to become an active participant. The investment is mental as well as physical. You have to commit to the vision and do the work. The good news is that a physical investment is a powerful driver. When I made the decision to hand over my hard-earned dollars to attend this retreat, I knew that my brain would be supercharged throughout the whole thing. I was going to get the most out of my investment and that meant mentally committing to my success.

The Most Powerful Tools Aren’t Free

Most of us have been scammed at least once in our lives. Maybe “scammed” is too harsh. But we’ve all invested in something that we later regretted. Fair enough. We get caught up in the sales process, we don’t use our skeptical eye, or we simply think we’re investing in something different. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t good investments out there. What works for me won’t always work for you. But don’t let yourself be so cautious that you refuse to invest in anything. The most powerful tools for business, professional development, and personal growth aren’t usually free. Why? Because the creators made an investment of their resources to produce it. They need a return just like you do.

Opportunity Cost

Ultimately, when you invest your resources in something you have an opportunity cost—something else that you can’t invest in. This is the fundamental concern that must be explored before an investment is made. What are the alternatives? If you don’t spend your money, time and energy here, where will you spend it? It’s a matter of weighing the options and feeling comfortable with the risks and potential rewards.

I knew that by attending this business retreat, I wouldn’t be able to attend a yoga retreat I had been eyeing for a while. Surely that would have been a great investment as well, but the return would have been quite different. In making my decision, I had to acknowledge what would be gained and what would be lost.

Another important question to ask is this: “What’s the cost of NOT investing in this?” For example, when people look at my Build Your Professional Development Plan Workbook, they know it takes a small investment of money ($27) but a significant investment of time and energy (it has over 100 exercises). However, for many, the career consequences of not investing are grave so the opportunity cost is quickly offset.

Now, looking back on my decision to invest in the business retreat, I couldn’t be happier. I know I made the right decision and that’s the best feeling in the world. We even had a few yoga classes while I was there so my opportunity cost was minimized. Often, when you make smart investments, that’s the way it works. Forces simply align to ensure you recognize your own wisdom.

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About the Author

Chrissy Scivicque is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and certified Professional Career Manager (PCM). She is an author, in-demand presenter and international speaker known for engaging, entertaining, educating and empowering audiences of all sizes and backgrounds. Learn more here.

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