Human capital-the ability to generate earnings from labor-is likely one of your greatest assets. Human capital gets converted into financial capital (such as paychecks and savings). The more income you can generate, and the longer you are willing (and able) to work, the greater the economic value of your capabilities. If you consider your human capital as an asset that represents the sum total of your time + talent + potential, it makes sense to manage it for maximum long-term return, just as you would manage any other asset in your portfolio.
Sometimes clients regard retirement as a future escape from a dysfunctional work environment. These clients are often unhappy, and believe the only solution is all or nothing: either keep working or retire/quit. If this is your situation, consider some alternatives instead of continuing to suffer or terminating employment at an early age. For most people, the human capital associated with a career is their single most important wealth-building tool.
Your career asset return is made up of not only the current salary you are paid, but also the satisfaction you receive by doing what really energizes you. By not balancing your work and life objectives, you run the risk of suffering job burnout. Burnout is costly, because it can lead to reduced productivity and stress-related health issues, and it can cause you to shorten your career, taking years of earning power away.
By viewing your job as an asset, you can find ways to tweak that asset to help it perform better, last longer and provide more satisfaction. Some aspects to consider:
- What are the things you like to do? You will perform better and be more likely to succeed financially doing something you enjoy.
- What are you good at? Look at the things you do well, and think about ways to use those talents to earn a living.
- Keep in mind what pays well. Look at careers using what you enjoy and do well that will also meet your financial needs and expectations.
- How will you get there? Determine the education requirements, if any that will be needed to pursue your preferred options. Will you earn enough to justify the cost of the additional education?
- Remember that you have options. There is a range of work options on the continuum-from not working at all to full-time work until retirement. For example, perhaps a part-time position would provide you with increased flexibility, more enjoyment, a change of scenery and some ongoing benefits.
Other parts of a successful career formula include proximity to good jobs, industry stability, availability of employee benefits, level of job satisfaction and amount of social interaction.
Your career is one of your greatest assets-keep that in mind the next time you’re longing for the day it will end. If you are considering retirement as a way out, maybe it’s time to think again. Finding a way to extend your career by creating more enjoyment from your work just might be an option.