We all know what it means to invest financially. It is to sacrifice some amount of money up front in an effort to generate a greater amount of money later. We tend to talk about investment in the abstract. That with which we invest is determined by that with which we hope to gain. It is not enough to say that we hope to gain more money.

Money is not an end unto itself. It is a means to an end. And if you don’t know your ultimate goal beyond just having a pile of money at the end of the game, you have failed to truly prepare. While money is usually involved in the process of getting what you want, it is always about more than just the money.

Retirement planning for Gen X starts with how you define retirement, and what you hope to get out of it. The most important investment is the investment in ourselves. In the event of an in-flight emergency, you take the oxygen for yourself before passing on to the one you hope to save. The reason is you can’t help anyone else if you are incapacitated.

Investing in your future begins with making the right investments in your self right now. Here are a few of those investments that will make the payoff worthwhile.

Your Health

If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything. All the money in the world means nothing if you are confined to a bed. If you suffer a loss of health due to someone else’s negligence, you need to do everything in your power to get it back. Legal groups like the Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C., a Garden City, NY personal injury law firm, exist to help you regain what was taken from you.

The best medical care and physical therapy are long-term, expensive luxuries not everyone can afford after an accident. You will often need legal help to get life back on track.

You also need to invest in long-term health as it relates to diet and exercise. It is often more expensive to maintain a healthy diet. But that investment is well worth it. If you don’t have access to a good place to exercise, a lifetime gym membership makes a lot of sense. Corrective surgery when you are young enough to easily recover makes more sense than waiting until you are older. Investing in your health now keeps all your options open later.

Your Education

If you want to write a book in your later years or crack the mysteries of the physical universe, you need to start investing in your education right now. Many find it rewarding to teach later in life. But that requires a formal education and certifications. And there is no better time to get an education than when you are young and your brain is more elastic.

That education will pay dividends in other ways. Whatever your career path, a higher degree will pay you more than what you will get with the minimum requirements. You will also be in a better position for promotions and opportunities that will take you much further. A better position and salary means you will be able to put more away for whatever comes next.

Your Hobbies

If you don’t take the time in your youth to develop some meaningful hobbies and pastimes, you will have nothing to enjoy in your senior years. Part of the idea behind retirees is to have the time to do the things you enjoy. For that to make sense, there have to be things you really enjoy doing.

Your hobbies become skills. And those skills become a part of defining who you are. You will not enjoy making music if you never developed the skill. You will not enjoy fishing or boating or climbing if you didn’t spend the money, time, and energy it takes to gain those abilities. You don’t want to head into your senior years with no unique abilities to call your own.

Investing in yourself means investing in your health, your education, and your hobbies. Otherwise, in your golden years, all you will have is money. And we all know that can buy you neither happiness nor love.