Are You Just a Worker? Or Are You an Investor?

Posted on May 16, 2013. Filed under: Career Management, Personal Branding |

Career InvestorWe all like to think that we are in control of our professions to some degree. After all, for the most part, we did choose the type of work that we do (although maybe it wasn’t our first choice), we are in charge of whether we quit or stay (although really maybe it is life circumstances that are controlling us), and we can always decide to do something else (although again it might not seem that way) or find ways to grow in our field.

On the surface, then, it certainly sounds like we are in control.

(But that’s the problem, isn’t it? At the end of the day, it’s really only on the surface.)

Start a conversation with just about anyone about how they earn their income, and you will either hear or find underpinnings of phrases like, “I am a professional so-and-so,” “my career management strategy is XX,” “I have all the right credentials,” “my job development path is XX,” etc. But if you delve a little deeper, to find out what truly motivates them, it won’t take long to find a startling truth:

Most of us are basically just workers, not really investors.

We’ve found a place to go to each day that provides us with an income, maybe even a nice one, and we’re pretty good at keeping up with the latest in our field, but no matter what title we receive or how much salary we earn, we’re really just hanging on to the hope that we don’t lose that great job or become obsolete to the marketplace. In other words, we’re pretty vulnerable because we haven’t learned a key life lesson when it comes to “career management.”

And that lesson is how to transition from being a worker into being an investor.

An investor is someone who knows how to take something and make it grow. He or she understands that the income received from the day-to-day job does not really lead to financial security. Sure, it buys things…maybe lots of things. But it only lasts as long as the job lasts because it is mainly being used for spending on consumer goods, not for generating real capital…capital that doesn’t rely on an employer’s whim or cannot sustain an economic downturn.

After watching client after client, from C-level execs to entry-level grads, get hit with the reality that all their hard work only secured them a job, not financial security, it has caused us here at ITtechExec, a small startup business, to think about what we consider “success.”

I mean, is success the income earned from work, or is it the investment made off of the income? Does it make sense to build a career path that fails to consider a financial investment strategy (and I am not talking about “saving” for retirement)?

After all, what is the goal? To work, work, work and hope you never lose that job and have just enough in retirement when you are ready for it? Or is to find a way to take those earnings and make them grow, allowing you the opportunity to make different choices and to implement that career management strategy you always wanted to pursue?

Now, I am not talking about whether you ever become rich. If you like being poor or middle class or upper middle class, great. I am talking about how to make sure you stay that way by getting out from under the desperate clinging to a job. This doesn’t mean you won’t continue to work or that you will retire at 40. It simply means you took your worker-bee earnings and turned them into investments that grew and generated a different form of income. And that income is the one you live off of. It is the one sustaining you, not the employer, and it is the one you really are in control over because you are the owner of that investment. The job could go away, but you would still have the investment income…

But I guess it all depends on how you define “security” and where you are expecting it to come from.

One thing is certain: Hope is not a strategy.

It might be a nice feeling. It might even seem like faith, but faith is certainty in the things hoped for and in the things not seen. Faith is not a wish.

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2 Responses to “Are You Just a Worker? Or Are You an Investor?”

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[…] my last post, “Are You Just a Worker? Or Are You an Investor?” I talked about making a shift from a worker mindset to an investor […]

How much is enough? If 6% is not enough, then what is? This is such an important question because it should be the foundation of your monthly budget. If you are trying to do things right, you set aside money for your retirement first, and then see how much you have left to spend on everything else. Again, its that old expression, “pay yourself first.” So, what is a good percentage of gross income that you should be saving? The typical rule of thumb is that you should save 10% of your salary for retirement. But as the linked article suggests, even 10% may not be enough. You may be 42 years old with no money saved for retirement (you’ll need to save much more than 10% of your income) or 25 and trying to retire early. So while 10% of your income seemed like a good place to start as a minimum, it was clear to me that I needed to do some extra research to come up with a percentage that was more than just a rule of thumb.

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