Financial Life Focus

How to clearly navigate your financial life

Being You

Walt Kelly said it best: "We have met the enemy and it is us!"

It is impossible to not to notice; everyone wants to be someone or something else.  Actors want to be comedians; athletes want to be actors; singers want to be dancers. I wonder if it is job dissatisfaction or merely human nature, pushing us into new and different directions of exploration?

I work weekly with a personal trainer, who was, in his younger days a football player. He's strong and he trains hard to stay that way.  But he is also an avid runner and wants to be faster. To achieve that, he would have to give up muscle mass to become lighter.  My son, blessed with a runner's body, jumps on the treadmill and starts at NINE! He routinely runs eight to ten miles, no problem, but wants to bigger and more muscular.  He hits the gym with commitment and dedication to add mass to his already well-defined frame. It drives me crazy! Why aren't people satisfied with the gifts they already possess? I’m not even going to the crazy body image that women deal with; as if a SIZE ZERO is normal! It seems being content with who we are is out of fashion.  That is not to say that aspiring to grow is at all a bad thing, but sometimes, the energy is not of self-improvement, but of self-destruction.

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When it comes to money, satisfaction is a rare condition indeed.  The idea of enough is practically inconceivable.  We are constantly being shown, on TV, in movies, on advertising what success looks like. The definition of success is big and loud and glitzy enough for everyone to plainly see; and without attainment, we are abject failures. Right?  Of course not, feeling rich is more about self worth than net worth. After careful consideration, I have decided that Pogo (do you remember the comic by Walt Kelly?) said it best, “We have met the enemy and he is us!” We are using our eyes to look out rather than look within.

Over my career, I have found that the happiest clients are those who have self-defined their success to provide a life (present and future) where the focus was centered on their values, not someone else’s definition of success.  Among those with whom I have been fortunate enough to work with are financially successful and fundamentally successful people; their purpose is to live a rich and meaningful life where they can put their heads on the pillow at the end of the day without care and worry. They feel rich because their wealth is not strictly defined by their net worth.  They feel rich because they strive for balance and meaning.  Their goals are not created by Hollywood, Madison Avenue or their neighbor or brother-in-law, but by a driving desire or need to create something with lasting value.

Living in our crazy paced society is tough; the external pressures alone are ridiculous.  Try and give yourself a mini-vacation by stepping back and shifting your gaze from outward to inward.  It all starts there and coincidently enough—it ends there too.

 

Michael F. Kay, a Certified Financial Planner, practitioner and a CPA, is president of the firm Financial Life Focus.

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