"Regardless of WHAT we do in our lives, our WHY - our driving purpose, cause, or belief, never changes."
I'm at my desk attending a video call hosted by someone I'll call Ricky. Ricky is a financial planner who tells a story about an experience he had at an industry conference. For background, Ricky reminds everyone that in the winter he skis four times a week, and in the summer he mountain bikes five times a week. He can't get enough of the outdoors. He even built his financial planning practice around his ability to be outside and served clients who shared his interests. When he learns that this particular conference not only has some top-notch presenters but is also going to be at a ski resort he jumped, at the opportunity to attend.
At a networking dinner, Ricky recalls a guy he met - we'll call him Brutus. Ricky and Brutus get to talking, and Ricky learns that Brutus loves skiing, but unfortunately doesn't have the time to ski as much as he'd like. Then, as always seems to happen, Brutus asks Ricky how much money his practice makes. After the initial shock from Brutus straight up asking about money, Ricky tells him. Brutus replies, "Wow, okay. That's cute."
Taken aback by Brutus' response, Ricky thinks to himself, "Dude, my life is your vacation!"
What's the Money For?
Even though Ricky didn't verbally say that to Brutus, it does bring up something we can all learn from. Everyone has different values. Brutus values making money and trying to make his firm a top firm; fame and wealth were his most important values. Ricky, on the other hand, values adventure, exercise, outdoors, and family.
It's okay to have different values from one another. Where people get themselves into trouble is when their behaviors are focused on what other people value instead.
It's a common misconception that more money will make us happier. As such, valuing money, income, and wealth are false values. Instead, we need to figure out what the money's for. What does money need to do for you? How can you use your money to support your unique personal values? How do your values compare with your partner's values?
Values as a Foundation
Once you are clear about why money is important to you and what it needs to do for you, then you have a solid financial foundation. This foundation is made up of your personal values. Getting clear about your values is one of the major steps in achieving financial health. Once you have a healthy financial life, including the ability to use your money to support your values, then your future financial decisions become much more straightforward. Your confidence will increase, and your stress will drop.
Confidence in Your Finances
When you increase your confidence in your financial life, you'll notice that your stress and anxiety will go down. This confidence will give you a greater ability to stop worrying about what other people think and want you to do. Confidence becomes the "thing" that stands between social pressure and poor financial decisions.
Social pressure can also be thought of as peer pressure, the desire to keep up with the Jones', and the marketing messages that come at us all day, every day.
Poor financial decisions includes obvious poor financial decisions, but also includes financial decisions that may appear to be good financial decisions, but don't support the values that you hold.
Support YOUR Values - Not "Theirs"
Your values are the values that matter.
Your values are the values that matter.
You see, I wrote that twice because it's that important. The pressure from society doesn't matter to you. What the media says and thinks you should do doesn't matter. What your neighbors and friends tell you to do with your money doesn't matter to you. These are not your values; these are their values.
If you don't value homeownership - even though everywhere you look, you can find articles about why you should own a home - don't buy a home.
If you don't like traveling - even though you hear everyone say that traveling the country or world is on their bucket list - don't travel.
If you don't value expensive cars - even though the common (and wrong) perception is that when you don't have a car payment anymore, it's time to get a new car - drive your cars for 100,000+ miles and skip the expensive makes.
It's Not a Game or Competition
You can live a life that supports your values. Your neighbors can live a life that supports their values. I can live a life that supports my values. These can all happen AT THE SAME TIME.
Stop thinking that you need to have what your neighbors have. Stop paying attention to what social media "influencers" think you should be doing. Stop letting yourself be controlled by what advertisers want you to buy. You don't have to be a pawn in the "Look How Successful I Am" game. You don't have to play.
Play your own game.