A lot of financial pros will tell you that the way to make sure you don't accumulate a lot of bad debt that takes forever to pay off (charging you a bucketload of interest in the process), is to only borrow money for appreciating assets. Take out a loan to buy a house (which will go up in value, thereby earning you money), but don't max our your credit card for a TV in that house. This is sound, but the advice is usually limited to things like houses. Unless it's a collectible, cars don't increase in value. And those baseball cards from the early '90s that are still in your attic probably will forever be worth nothing. But here's the thing few people talk about: you are an appreciating asset. If you don't have a deep belief that your value (to yourself, to the world, to an employer) is going up over time, then you need to readjust your forecast. Doing so will boost your confidence and help you to sacrifice what can be sold to earn what can't be bought.
So many times, I hear people say, "I'd love to do or be _____, but I don't have the skills/time/training/knowledge/experience." While perhaps a statement of fact, this lament will never change unless you make the hard decision to invest in yourself.
Any investment - whether it's in the stock market or in yourself - is a risk. But there is no investment that you can be more sure of than yourself. You can toss money into mutual funds by making educated guesses, but there's still an element of finger crossing that needs to happen. Sink that same money into your own passions by getting some more schooling, taking the time to start your own company, or better brand yourself, and it's all on you. You're in control. The onus is on you to make your investment produce high returns.
Take out a loan if you need to. Borrow money from your parents or your savings account. Sell stuff around the house that doesn't mean near as much as living your dreams does. If all that is standing in the way between you and a happy career or meaningful life is a TV or a sofa, then perhaps you're not cut out to follow your heart. If time spent watching television or clowning around online is more important that doing what you love, then there is no chance you'll ever be able to make it on your own.
I'm investing in myself this year. I have a budgeted amount to spend on growing my speaking opportunities. For me, it's an investment on what I hope can be a steady career that I love. It may not work out. I may spend the money and have nothing to show for it, save the story and the experience. But if I don't make this sacrifice, I'll always wonder what might have been. There are tradeoffs to any decision, so move beyond that discussion to the spot where you bet on yourself for once.
Thomas Jefferson told us: "I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it." It's time to get to work. The best tool in your kit is yourself. It's time to go all in.