Rethinking Income: Your Most Valuable Asset and Income as ROI

Despite the technological advances and modern conveniences of the world most of us inhabit, there are basic human necessities common to all of us. Things like food and shelter, health and security and companionship are the primal basics needed for survival.

But our aspirations and objectives in life vary widely from one person to the next. These variations and differences are what make us the diverse and potent species that we are. The unique variations and motivations also drive our choices in life and can be a well-spring of value, if we leverage them properly.

Sitting Looking Rocky Shore

When we know ourselves and embrace our weaknesses, strengths and superpowers we can make the most of all our resources. It also helps us pick our paths and plan with purpose.

Expanding on the Idea of Income

When we think of “income” it is usually of the monetary (financial) sort. But there is, in fact, a wider range of (and greater potential for) income that is less commonly considered. The very definition of income is broader than many people think. And when we start to think differently about income we can begin uncovering value and opportunities in places we never expected.

Time and energy are core capital

Each and every one of us is born with our own, powerful store of capital. Life itself provides us this precious seed funding which, when applied properly, is more potent than mere money. This core capital we all are born with is time and energy.

Most of us earn our first financial income by doing household chores or a job, usually paid hourly but most salaried positions are the same in this regard. We perform some activity which requires our energy and time, and we get an allowance or a paycheck in return. We sell our time and energy for money.

Income as Return on Investment

When we hear about “return on investment” (ROI) most people think about investments like bond yields or capital gains from stock trading. But a simple reframing of some commonly understood ideas puts the notions of ROI and income into a whole new light.

Seeking returns starts with making an investment, and that investment requires capital. Normally, we consider capital to be of the monetary sort (currency). But this is a narrow and limiting understanding of capital.

Hourly pay is an investment return

So, our time and energy must be treated as our most precious capital, and a potent resource. To simply trade them for a low wage in a soul-sucking job and have nothing left after paying our monthly expenses is a tragedy. Yet, so many are stuck doing just this.

Of course, we all have taken jobs we didn’t want to in order to ‘pay the bills’. And there is no shame in honest work of any kind. Especially early in life, work and jobs of all sorts can provide valuable intangible benefits, opportunities for personal growth and a chance to explore and experience new people and ideas.

At most stages in life, a job is a basic part of our life support system; something we use to get money to pay those bills. And many investment philosophies and life hacking ‘gurus’ treat having a job as something to be reviled and avoided. But for most people this may be the best or only option at hand. Regardless, taking a salaried or hourly job is ultimately just another tool available as part of a life investment strategy.

Ultimate Store of Value

In the finance space the concept of ‘store of value’ commonly refers to things like gold or even a currency unit like the US dollar. These are also called assets. But, if we accept that time and energy are investable capital then you are also a store of value; you are an asset. It’s another important mindset shift.

As noted above, converting our time and energy capital into money is as simple as getting a job. But our energy is literally our life force and our time is the most precious and finite resource we have. So, we must be at least as cautious with our investments of time and energy as we are with our stock portfolio and bank account.

You are your most valuable asset (so maximize returns)

Once we accept that time and energy are part of our core capital, a job simply becomes an investment choice among many other potential choices of how to spend that energy and time. Because cash flow is a basic need, there’s no question you should consider a job as a viable income option. Having said that, as with other investments, you must consider what other benefits, dividends or ‘return on investment’ you can extract from this activity.

Remember, your time and energy is your most potent and precious investment capital. When applied correctly it can return massive results (investment returns). In this way, that job you are considering is not just providing you earnings to pay bills, but also offers the opportunity to learn and develop other skills and increases your return on invested time and energy. In doing so, it also enhances and grows your most valuable asset (which is you).

Stacking Income and Revenue Streams

The big idea here is about reframing your time and energy as investable capital, and rethinking all forms of income as potential returns on that capital. When we broaden our understanding of capital, investment and returns, we not only expand our options and create the potential for multiple income streams (creating income stacks) but we also begin to value our own personal and experiential ‘capital’ differently.

By treating our own time and energy as having even greater value than the very money we work so hard pursuing, we immediately begin managing those resources differently. And, when we value ourselves and our efforts more, the quality and value of the results of those efforts starts growing as well.

by Jason Paul Hendricks

Jason’s experience ranges from bootstrapped solo startups to corporate roles with publicly traded Fortune 500 companies. On Digital Downshift he shares what he has learned over three decades of entrepreneurship and career-hood, both his mistakes and successes. With an obsession for business building and continuous learning, Jason seeks to apply these lessons (and help others do the same) to achieve more happiness and security.

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