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Boost Your Human Capital: Start Early

This article was written by in Personal Development. 7 comments.


Your human capital is just as important as your financial capital. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to consider your human capital, your potential to become financially independent over time, more important than your net worth at any one particular time. Over the past few weeks, I’ve been writing in depth about ways to boost your human capital through education, experience, and particular approaches to life decisions. This is the final article in the series.

Assuming the stock market provides a average return of 8 percent per year over the long-term, the earlier you begin investing, the better you’ll be in the future. Thanks to the way returns compound upon each other, starting a few years earlier could be the difference between retiring comfortably and struggling on a fixed income. Of course, market performance in the future will have a great effect on your overall performance, but those who start early generally have a distinct advantage.

The same theory applies to building your human capital. “Start early” is generally the worst advice anyone can communicate because it’s impossible. Until scientists invent a time machine, by the time someone says to you, “You should have started earlier,” you’ve missed your opportunity. If the message of starting early get across, however, the philosophy can be used for other situations and can be passed along to others. For example, while I didn’t save any of my income until I was in my late twenties, now knowing that it’s important to start early, I can help my potential children understand this importance from an earlier age.

BabyWhile many financial experts have succeeded in convincing people that it’s important to start saving and investing early to maximize the advantage offered by time, not many people talk about developing your human capital early.

High school

By the time you finish your first year of high school, you should be well on your way to a financially successful life by exploring your talents and interests, taking part in extra-curricular activities, and looking for opportunities to lead others. It sounds like a lot to ask of a fourteen-year-old kid, but if parents help steer children in the right direction without overloading them, these basic tenets will go far in helping the child develop into a successful adult.

Besides grade point averages and standardized test scores, the criteria that colleges use to evaluate potential students for acceptance, criteria which schools believe correlate to success, tend to be the same aspects that build human capital. Those extra-curricular activities, leadership roles, volunteer work, a diverse set of interests, and the ability to write an essay well all help a student convince an admissions board that he or she will thrive in the college environment.

College

The college experience varies from person to person. You could gain a lot of maturity between ages 18 and 21, or you could spend four years wasting your life like so many students away from their parents for the first time. I wouldn’t be interested in a lifestyle that involves keeping my head in text books twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, so this is not what I’m suggesting.

Take advantage of the opportunities your college offers you. Meet people, get involved in organizations, gain some experience in your field, and determine where your passion lies. College is the perfect time to awaken your soul to the possibilities before you find yourself in a 40 to 80 hour-per-week job.

For most Consumerism Commentary readers, it’s too late to go back to being 15 years old or 18 years old to gain the human capital advantages they might have missed. The best one can do in this situation is to start right now.

In addition to starting early, I’ve offered nine tips for boosting your human capital. If you haven’t started already, start now. If you are already on your way to ensuring you are less likely to have financial problems in the future, consider doing more.

Every day, take just a few minutes to do one thing that enhances your human capital. It can be as easy as working out for twenty minutes — good health helps ensure you’ll have an ability to earn income longer — or updating your LinkedIn profile to make your listing more appealing to clients. You can take a step further, too, by meeting up with a colleague for a mentoring session. If you spend some time each day to think about what you can do to make yourself more valuable to the world, you’ll be putting yourself in a much better position in the future.

Photo: o5com

Published or updated November 24, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar krantcents

As a teacher, I often tell my students to invest in yourselves by getting good grades and how it helps you prepare for the next step. I am not sure how many I am able to turn or motivate, but I keep trying to convince them.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

I’m sure there are many more than you know about.

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avatar Mel

Have them make up awesome stories about themselves.
“I’m going to be this awesome ______ and do ______ and be like ________ in a decade.” If something sounds off and not feasible about the way they’re telling their stories, tell it to them straight. It’s sad setting up expectations and seeing them knocked down.

If your students are at a loss at how to tell stories, that just means they haven’t listened to enough yet. Get good at telling stories yourself, and tell your students great stories. They don’t have to be direct, dry-musty bios either. Just stuff that’s real and can touch the heart. If the stories you like don’t feel like a part of your students’ world, that means they need to grow up and get with the globe. S’what’s called having an “eye-opener” lol

So, what stories do you like to hear?

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avatar Ceecee ♦796 (Dime)

I am one of those who partied through college and now regret it sometimes. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. But I did make some lifelong friends, and that is human capital too.

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avatar johnnny

i am also a teacher and i make the same steps as the previous man, but i think they have to reform their thinking at the level of studies which are one of the most important parts of their education. then they should be sure of what they want to do.

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avatar Cejay ♦1,521 (Half-Dollar)

I agree so much with the idea of starting in high school. There is where you start to flex your leadership qualities. You should also invest in quality extra curriculars. But it should also be fun and I know that it can be. Smart parents should invest the time to make sure there children know this.

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avatar lynn ♦155 (Cent)

The activities don’t have to have a huge price tag on them either. Drama Club, Music, Debate Team, etc offer the same resume build up that sports does.

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