Improvement won't cost you a dollar. You read that right. The cost of no improvement: your life.
During the course of tens of thousands of consults, our team has encountered concerns about the cost of services. We understand. The prospective client usually doesn't. That's because most consider self-improvement an add-on. If that were the case, we'd agree. Indeed, that would be oppressively expensive for most. However, self-improvement is an investment; and it must be done in exchange for the removal of much more costly items, namely negative habits. That, friend, is a net savings.
A client recently told us about advice her mother gave her when she was balking at the cost of continuing her medical schooling. For the client, the tally of years and dollars was too much. Her mom's response: in ten years, it's going to be ten years from now whether you're a doctor or not. Likewise, you are going to spend the next ten years and ten thousand dollars on something. What's going to be left over afterward?
We are all investors. Some of us are good investors. Some of us are bad investors. We have three fundamental resources: time, energy and assets. You've already spent all your time, energy and assets up to this point in your life to get the body you currently have. Are you a good investor? Probably not. Don't embarrass yourself by talking about how expensive improvement is. You're already throwing hundred dollar bills like a rapper. You say you have to tighten your belt. Why, then, do you have to keep buying a bigger belt?
McDonald's made about 6 billion dollars in the first quarter of 2015. Krispy Kreme made about 122 million. Keep in mind that these companies are currently contracting, possibly imploding, likely dying and certainly not improving our health; and you are still filling their coffers to the tune of millions and billions. According to Business Insider, 1.7 billion servings of Coke products are consumed every day. Self-improvement is expensive compared to what exactly?
Total wellness illiteracy isn't relegated to the poor. Many financially well-off people have walked through our doors with bellies that walked through the door more than a few seconds earlier. They might have collected more dollars at this timestamp, but at the cost of vital enjoyable living.
About nine years ago, our coaches started working with two very different clients on the exact same day. The one, a young man we'll call Brian, was a bachelor surgeon. The other, we'll call her Erica, was a forty-something single mother of four. Brian's ratio of income to expenses was markedly different than Erica's. The problem for Brian was that even if he spent fifty grand on personal training, his lifestyle wouldn't have to change at all. For Erica, a $500.00 down payment was going change her life completely. That's exactly what happened by the way. Brian didn't even show up for most of his appointments. Losing a thousand dollars here and there was less costly in his mind than altering his schedule, his behavior and consequently his health. Three years later a few of our coaches ran into him at another gym and he looked like he'd aged another thirty years. Erica, on the other hand, showed up early and stayed late for all her appointments. When she lost about thirty pounds in the first couple months, her body and mind were different. She had chosen a path so difficult that there was no other way out but up. If we'd found too comfortable an option for her, chances are she would've ended up like Brian. Her health and fitness improved sharply. Even her job prospects and earning potential changed. That aside, she was happy. Brian was neither happy nor healthy.
Different sources estimate that on average 10% of college loans are spent on alcohol consumption. These, of course, are just the dollars. A variety of economists argue that if students spent the same number of hours working for $8 per hour as they spend being drunk, all college graduates would leave school with a few thousand dollars in savings rather than tens of thousands of dollars in school loan debt.
American credit card debt is poised to cross the $16,000.00 threshold for the first time ever. According to Bloomberg, the average Las Vegas visitor has a $530.00 gambling budget. Big tobacco still exists. Junk food manufacturers are still sitting pretty. On average we Americans spend over twelve-hundred dollars each year on the very same electronics which are ruining our circadian rhythms and hormone balance. Bariatric surgery costs ten to thirty grand. A litany of other unnecessary surgeries due to our unhealthy behaviors can run from thirty grand (simple pacemaker) to over a hundred grand (certain spinal fusions) to over two hundred grand (digestive tract procedure with complication).
From the top of the socioeconomic ladder all the way to the bottom we have a cultural naïveté. Poor people would rather save a few cents buying cheap food instead of quality, ultimately throwing away years of health and even paying more dollars in the end on medical intervention. Wealthy people would rather drive an expensive car than live in an incredible body. They'd rather drink a Merlot daily than prepare healthy meals weekly. Thanks to both of these tacts, about a third of all money spent on healthcare in the United States is spent on the last two years of life for those with chronic disease. Think about that. About a third of all money spent on healthcare is spent on the end of unhealthy people's lives. Pause. Contemplate that statistic. We could all be lowering each other's costs by spending more time, energy and assets on our personal health and fitness today. We just get so confused, erroneously thinking of improvement as an added expense.
It isn't an added expense. It's a win. Improvement is a holistic way of living. It excludes certain thoughts, behaviors and purchases by its very nature. It frees time by no longer giving time to deleterious activities. It frees energy by no longer giving it to unhealthy living. It frees assets by obligatorily removing expensive vices. If we could just get healthy enough to halve the impact of unhealthy dying people, alone that'd be some $670 billion savings. According to Forbes and their cited Deloitte study, we spend $4 trillion (and growing) each year on healthcare. Unhealthy dying people account for easily $1.33 trillion of that total. The overall cost of living uninvested in our health might be pegged closer to half or three quarters the total $4 trillion expenditure. However, if we just use the lower estimate ($670 billion), this means we have an average of $2,300.00 (and growing) to spend on healthy living investments for each and every man, woman and child every single year so that we don't have to spend the same amount of money plus interest on less than 5% of the population.
Invest. Take out the junk, the vices, the excess, the needless mindless entertainment, the drinking, and so on. Then, improve. Give to your future self, your family and community in ways which will give back to the health and fitness of our current and future selves. Even if it'll take decades, all your energy and every last penny you own, the net cost will be $0.00.