Sometimes people can’t see the forest for the trees. Bill is a case in point. He is an extremely focused, goal-oriented, driven man who has no trouble telling you about his goals for the future. He wants to retire by a certain age and knows exactly how much money he needs to retire comfortably. To realize his dream of financial success in retirement, Bill invests in stocks and manages his stock portfolio himself because he doesn’t think he can trust someone else to do it right. That means he must spend a considerable amount of time daily watching his portfolio, making plans for it, making decisions about it. Bill is proud that he is doing what he needs to do to ensure a good financial future and putting in the work to reach his goal. He’s making good progress.

But not everything in Bill’s life is going well. He is overweight, unfit and doesn’t feel well. He lacks energy, doesn’t sleep soundly and has digestion and joint problems. As the years have gone by he has had increased difficulty moving his body around comfortably.

On the rare occasions Bill does talk about his health, he says, “I’m going to start a diet plan to get this weight off sometime after New Year’s.” But he quickly shifts his focus to other things, like his investments. He makes no plans to improve his health and puts little to no effort and time into eating better and exercising. Before he knows it, another year has gone by, and Bill is again saying, “I’m going to start a diet plan to get this weight off sometime after New Year’s.”

So what gives? Bill would say that he doesn’t have the time to take better care of himself, he doesn’t have willpower or he hasn’t found the right diet plan. In reality, he has everything he needs. He just has to take a step back and look at the big picture.

Here’s where Bill is going wrong:

  • He thinks that all he needs to be comfortable in retirement is money. He fails to see that you can’t enjoy money without the comfort of health. Health gives you the ability to move your body around effortlessly, breathe well, prevent chronic illnesses and pain, have energy, sleep well, feel emotionally content, live longer.
  • He is investing in the stock market to ensure a healthy financial future, but he is failing to invest in himself to ensure a physically healthy future. Taking care of yourself is an investment. Each time you put nutritious food into your body and each time you help your body get exercise, you are investing in your future.
  • He is making his portfolio a priority but not his health. Because he considers making more money a priority, he puts time and effort each day into meeting that goal. However, he does not do the same when it comes to health and fitness. Only by considering health important and then making it a priority will he be motivated to do what it takes to ensure his future health. He knows that having a successful stock portfolio requires time and work, and because he accepts that, he does not find the work burdensome. But he does not acknowledge that health and fitness require the same things: prioritizing, focus, work.

Bill has the skills he needs to be healthy and fit: He knows how to prioritize. He knows how to set goals. He knows how to work on a goal by doing a little bit each day. He knows how to track his progress. He knows how to stay focused. Once he realizes how valuable his health is he can begin working on it in the same manner in which he works on his portfolio.

The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself. Invest in yourself each day by giving health and fitness priority and making choices mindfully, remembering that the right choices, made consistently, will ensure a better future.

Previously published in The Tampa Bay Times