It’s January, which means it’s time to get going on your New Year’s resolutions. If you’re like most people, you establish both personal and professional goals, taking time to write them down for future reference, and then forget about them in February.
In talking with my clients about their resolutions and goals for the year, common personal goals often come up. These include losing weight, exercising more regularly, getting more sleep, having less stress and striving for better work-life balance. Common professional goals include making more money, getting a promotion, and in the case of business owners, increasing top-line revenue growth, making an acquisition or hiring key talent. All of these professional goals are related to making more money—i.e., creating more personal wealth.
On balance, most tend to emphasize their professional goals over personal ones, thinking the former will have the greatest financial impact. Overlooked, if not forgotten altogether, is the notion that taking care of your health can have a significant positive effect on your wealth. After all, your ability to earn an income is by far your greatest asset. Health and wealth are not separate; they work hand in hand.
This isn’t another “expert” telling you to go on a diet or cut out carbohydrates; there is a wealth (no pun intended) of research that shows a strong connection between your health and the money you make. Unhealthy habits can lead to poor health over time. In turn, this means more trips to the doctor, maybe the emergency room, and most certainly a list of daily medications to treat your underlying symptoms. There are real out-of-pocket costs for doctor visits and prescriptions, and since time is money, you pay the price of the time you spend out of the office as well. If you’ve ever been really sick, even for a short period of time, you know how unproductive it can be.
Medical expenses also leave you with less money to spend on more productive lifestyle choices, like a relaxing vacation to recharge your batteries. It also means less money to save and invest for the future, which oftentimes translates into a lower of standard of living in retirement. This is not what most people dream about when it comes to their golden years.
This is probably not the first time you’ve heard about the connection between health and wealth, but you may be surprised to learn that some studies show regular exercise and healthy eating can increase your annual earnings by 7–12% (Money Magazine, Hobson & O’Brien, 2016), and that prioritizing a full night’s sleep may increase earnings by 5% (Money Magazine, Hobson & O’Brien, 2016). Spread over one’s lifetime, that can amount to a significant increase in wealth.
According to Ron Mastrogiovanni, founder and CEO of HealthView Services, “Take charge of your body, and it will have more of an impact than you think on your finances, your psyche and your overall quality of life.”
It’s not about working more hours. As shown below, Daniel Cook’s “Rules of Productivity” states that working a 60-hour workweek for three to four weeks can boost productivity, but beyond that, productivity starts to fall dramatically.
Britain’s National Health Service reports that reducing excessively long workweeks would combat illnesses such as high blood pressure, mental health, strokes and heart disease (www.theguardian.com, 2014). Employers and employees alike are starting to realize they need to work smarter, not longer, to increase productivity.
In many respects, living a healthy lifestyle is flexing the same muscle you use each month when you contribute to your 401(k) or other retirement plan. You—your physical body and your mental wellbeing—are only as strong as your weakest link. Both should be used regularly.
As you finalize your New Year’s resolutions, whether personal, professional or both, keep in mind that the most important common denominator for success is your health. Improving your lifestyle habits (like eating better, exercising more and minimizing “super weeks” at the office) will have a direct effect on your professional success and long-term wealth.
Get healthy, get wealthy! I can’t think of a better investment idea for 2017.