You are probably familiar with the concept of ROI, or return on investment. Embedded in that concept is the view that an input of some kind – money, time, effort, etc – will result in an output of some kind, and the net result is generally that you end up with more than you started with.

Most people, from my experience, do not guarantee a positive return. That is the purpose of the fine print. However, I think it is fair to say that most people pushing investments are quite happy to let you believe it’s a sure thing because you are likely to invest more.

As I am in the habit of doing, I like to turn familiar concepts on their ear, mostly for fun, but also because it forces me to consider their real meaning. So, my twist today is… what if we instead use the phrase, “Investment For Return”. I even made an acronym:  IFR (sorry, pilots).

So the idea behind this IFR is that we focus on our investment, rather than our return. The PR folks in the audience just groaned and accused me – accurately – of sucking the glamour out of the idea. The “spin” of what you’re going to get* can be intoxicating, so why on earth would anyone focus on what you have to invest?

Seriously!  Investing is basically voluntarily agreeing to give something up for a period of time with the view that, when the time is up, you will get back your investment* and a sizeable return* along with it. You’ll be ahead of where you started, and the cost to you was merely the inconvenience of doing without that initial investment. I would argue that we really need to shift our focus from the sometimes-elusive returns* and instead focus on this dry-toast reality: investing in our own wellness costs us.

The true positive return on our personal wellness investments is entirely different from what we may have previously thought. It is a level of mental toughness which, once gained, can simply be used anywhere in our life. If you ever experience self-doubt, you are familiar with the negative mental conversations where you highlight your failings but cannot identify anything to argue them away. Well, consider this:

Once you have tried something – done something, made an effort – to invest in your wellness, whatever that may be, you have ACTIVATED yourself. Those actions, however short-lived or seemingly insignificant, immediately smash the glass of good intentions that sound so wonderful but are really just puffery. You have acted. You have made an investment. You have done whatever you needed to do to move beyond intention to action. And as non-glitzy as that may be, I consider that to be the true return.

The investment IS the return. The moment you activate yourself and do something to improve your wellness, you have achieved what I believe is the least-known and hardest-to-market return:

Agency – “the capacity, condition, or state of acting or of exerting power”

– Miriam-Webster Online Dictionary

In my view, we have largely lost the concept of our own agency, the idea that we are decision-making beings who can plan actions and execute them… that we can make things happen.

So, go make things happen in your own wellness journey. Invest for return.

I’ve just been ticketed by the Italics Police, so it’s time to wind this down.


*Returns in your case may be smaller than they appear.