Let’s start off by clarifying exactly what I mean by “investing in yourself,” because it is a term that has somewhat nebulous meaning that can vary a little from place to place.

For the purposes of this article, investing in yourself means applying resources you have to improving personal traits and skills and improving your resume. You are taking things you have – money, time, energy, and so on – and using them to make yourself better, with “make yourself better” usually meaning some measurable or discernible improvement in a particular trait that’s important to you and/or your career.

Here’s the catch: improving yourself is great, but it is not a direct recipe for career success and greater income. Almost always, investing in yourself merely increases the likelihood of career success or of the success you want in other areas, but it does not guarantee it. …

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