Return on Investment

img276If you’re in marketing or business of any kind you are probably familiar with the term ROI or Return on Investment. As a marketing professional for more years than I care to count it’s been a term that has haunted me, first in college and then in my career. It made it impossible to plan or create without predicting success.

I always found it funny when my bosses wanted a detailed report on why I thought something I wanted to do was going to work. Like anyone wants to fail. Like I wanted my time and effort to go to waste and make the company lose money. But then again, without a crystal ball sometimes it’s impossible to say whether or not something’s going to work unless you give it time.

But that’s business.

I’ve made my peace with ROI. I’ve come to understand that professionally speaking any career is about the bottom line. If my position isn’t contributing to the upward trajectory of the company then I’m of no use to it. Harsh, but true.

Now that I’m on the precipice of the back half of my life I started thinking about ROI in terms of me personally. After all at the end of the day that’s what matters most – our lives, our families, our legacies. And shouldn’t we care more about the people who mean the most to us, who love us, who want what’s best for us?

And what more important investment can we make than in ourselves and our families?

I’m not talking about only money either. Sure that’s a huge part of it. If you think someone else is going to pay to take care of you when you get old, well, then you’re delusional, entitled, and need to rethink your strategy.

And, yes, we all need to have a strategy. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’ve lived most of my life not really giving much thought to the future. It was only when I realized that I wasn’t ever going to accomplish anything if I continued the way I was that I knew something had to change.

I had to put thought into my decisions. I had to plan for contingencies. I had to look into the crystal ball.

I wasn’t happy.

Don’t get me wrong. I am an expert decision maker. It is one of my favorite things to do. Even if they turn out to be not so great, I’m okay with that. I can change my direction mid-course, no problem.

No, it’s the thinking about the consequences before I do something that’s always given me fits. It’s the reports and writing things down and answering questions. It’s sharing my purpose with others. Everyone should take my word for it that I have a good reason for everything I do…

You should probably know that I’m sitting here laughing at myself right now because that’s such an arrogant, self-centered way of thinking. And it’s no way to actually live. Like it or not I am accountable to my family. The things I do or don’t do directly affects them – you know, for better or worse.

I guess what scares me the most is that we will all get a return on our investment no matter what we invest. And we’re kidding ourselves if we think our actions don’t have consequences. Sometimes the return we get is subtle – good or bad. And then sometimes it feels like a wrecking ball. But eventually we will all get our returns.

So the big question for today is, what am I investing in my life?

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