A New Year and Investments for Lifelong Success

National Public Radio on WAMC recently aired a story (http://wamc.org/post/financial-benefits-college-degree-accumulate) about how the financial benefits of holding a college degree last well into retirement and that those individuals with college degrees earn three to five times more money than a person with a high school education during the retirement years. The story followed a 2011 publication by Cynthia Hess, Jeff Hayes, and Heidi Hartmann, titled, Retirement on the Edge: Women, Men, and Economic Insecurity After the Great Recession. The researchers confirm what we know about higher education and income, and reminded me that spending time and money to pursue learning is a good investment–at any age.

The WAMC retirement story makes one consider what other personal investments contribute to a long and satisfying life. My list includes lifestyle choices in the foods we eat, the time we make to exercise and strengthen our bodies, the social investments of networking and our efforts to be with friends and family. All these “investments” combine to enrich our lives now and well into the future. In fact, much as investing in education has a multiplier effect in retirement, it’s likely the same holds true for the other investments we make in our lives.

My favorite self-help “investment” book of all time is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and it’s the only book I’ve taken the time to read twice. Covey’s habits are all critical “investments” to being an effective teacher, leader, administrator, manager, doctor, parent,…. However, Sharpen the Saw (Habit 7) is the habit which most aligns with investments that make for life-long well-being as it targets one’s mind-body-spirit. Effective people sharpen their saws regularly, and plan weekly per Covey’s suggestion on Physical, Social/Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual goals.

  • Habit 1: Be Proactive
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First
  • Habit 4: Think Win-Win
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
  • Habit 6: Synergize
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

With that said, best wishes for the new year and “invest” your time wisely.  Take a college or continuing ed class, get in the gym or out on the trails regularly, read Covey’s work, eat lower on the food chain, network more with colleagues, and have fun with family and friends. You’ll appreciate the dividends of your efforts.


Stephen Danna


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