The most important investment: Your Future

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Investing in your future is an important part of being successful with your goals and ambitions. 

It has been said that a boxing Champion does not first discover their talents under the light-soaked stage of the main-event match, but in the grueling training program they embark on combined with the years of challenges before that point. Successful athletes are ones who make continuous improvements to their performance/abilities in the face of ever evolving competition. In parallel, we find ourselves in highly competitive business world where we must constantly strive to improve our skills. To be successful we must follow the path of the championship contender in a quest to remain relevant and in pursuit of our goals.  Investing in ourselves is the ultimate strategy for standing out from a crowd, and in reaching the goals we are pursuing.  How exactly is the process carried out? 
  
The first step towards investing in our future is to determine where we want to go.
Start by asking yourself this question: “Where do I see my career in 5 years?” It might take a while to answer this question at first, but it is in your best interest to develop the most complete answer you can write down.  With much detail, write out a picture of the “ideal you” in every aspect of your life. Once this step is completed, the rest of the journey is focused on bringing this vision into reality. 
  
Next, significant thought must be spent analyzing your strengths and weaknesses plus what additional skills and abilities are needed. A great question to ask is: “What skills will I need to be successful at what I have envisioned?” It is important to know where your talents already lie so time can be spent improving them, equally, determining weaknesses that are holding you back (or have the potential to further down the line) will allow yourself to guard against their destruction. A valuable activity at this stage is to make a list of your current strengths/weaknesses and skills/abilities on one side of a sheet of paper, then on the other side write down all the  “ideal you” (from Step 1) traits you aspire to. Once you have written the two lists down, brainstorm what changes must be made to move yourself from the list of your current traits in order to progress to the “ideal you.”
 
To be effective, the above step of comparing the “current you” to the “ideal you” must be carried out multiple times for it to be effective. The process of constant scrutiny helps ensure your strategy is solid. The question you must constantly have in the back of your mind is: “what are new skills I must develop which were not envisioned since my last comparison?”  To do this successfully you must establish several diverse reference points on which to judge your skills. These reference points can include a highly regarded figure in your field, a sales goal, new market reports, or your fiercest competitor.  Constantly scanning the environment in search of new information to judge yourself against will keep you relevant in an ever-changing business world.
 
Develop a game plan. Now that you have completed the “pre-work” by establishing a direction, the goal from this point is to dedicate the time and resources towards bringing the “current you” inline with the “ideal you”. To make this process yours, you must develop your own unique way of tracking your progress toward the achievement of your goals. Keep in mind this does not require large amounts of money, sometimes the best way of investing in yourself is just to use your current time more efficiently (which most often saves money).  The point here should be to establish an action plan toward reaching your maximum potential. Using a notebook or electronic planner can keep you organized, but feel free to develop a unique method for managing your game plan.  It is your journey after all. Visualize and practice success on a daily basis, make it part of your personal commitment, and you will be on the fast track towards creating your ideal future.
 
Turning your current weaknesses into future strengths will transform your current strengths into tomorrow’s ideal future.  As Muhammad Ali said, "The fight is won or lost far away from witness – behind the lines, in the gym and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights”.  The future belongs to those who train for it. 
 
--Steven Gonzalez