When we think of our most valuable resources, our instinct is to often default to our financial resources. Particularly when it comes to financial planning, or retirement planning.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that our success is measured on our balance sheet. The more money we accumulate, the better our life experience will be.
But as we often talk about, does this really satisfy the outcome we’re all aspiring to? What’s the point of planning?
Is it reaching an arbitrary sum of money in a retirement account? Achieving a certain rate of return in our portfolio so we can brag to our neighbors about our investment acumen?
While these measures might make you feel good in the moment, you know that they’re no assurance of more happiness or satisfaction in your life. Chances are you know someone who has more money than they’ll ever spend, yet they’re still unhappy. This is a subject we’ve discussed in the past, and will continue to tackle as we move forward.
This leads many to argue that our most valuable resource isn’t money, but time. However, you’ve probably met plenty of miserable people in their 80’s and 90’s too. So money and time, while extremely valuable, aren’t our most valuable resources.
Before we get there, let’s consider for a moment, the real goal of planning.
What are you hoping to achieve through these efforts? Happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment.
When we boil it all down, these are the fundamental outcomes that we’re all after. We simply want to stack the odds in our favor that we can experience a life well lived. A life lived with intention, meaning, and consistent alignment with our values. That’s really what most of us aspire towards.
If we recognize that this is the real goal, doesn’t it make sense to reconsider how we think about our resources, and more importantly how we’re spending them?
Tony Isola makes the compelling point that our most valuable resource is attention. After all, if I could guarantee you that you’ll live to age 100 with all the money you’ll ever need, that still doesn’t ensure a happy or fulfilling existence. How you focus those resources, however, likely will.
So where do you focus the majority of your attention?
Is it on the things that you say are your top priorities? Your family, your health, your spiritual well-being, your relationships, etc.?
Or is it distracted by the things in your life that cause you stress and anxiety?
Financial stress, strained relationships, compromised health and mental well-being, disagreements or conflicts? Just a few of the common areas of our lives that often claim our attention and drain this critical resource.
This is a conversation that doesn’t often find its way into the world of financial planning.
The majority of the financial service industry does a terrific job of helping individuals navigate the complexity of financial planning issues. There’s no shortage of resources to help you accelerate your financial progress. Just as there’s no shortage of smart professionals who can help you apply them to your financial plan.
But financial planning will only get you halfway home. A sound financial plan can help deliver security and confidence in your ability to live more freely. But once this cornerstone is firmly in place, it’s important to have a process to help you shift your attention to the areas of life that are most likely to help you achieve the happiness and fulfillment that you ultimately crave.
Edward Jones and Age Wave recently published an interesting study exploring the “4 Pillars of The New Retirement.” The study highlights an interesting shift in focus for most retirees. A refocus that’s only been magnified by the last year and half that we’ve experienced with the pandemic.
The four pillars required to ensure optimized well-being in retirement, according to the study are as follows:
Good physical/mental health (85%)
Family and friends that care about me (77%)
Having a sense of purpose (69%)
Being financially secure (59%)
Each of these pillars is interdependent on the other. But the message is clear. If our goal is to achieve a happy and fulfilled life experience, money and time alone won’t get it done.
Money is important.
Time is important.
But it’s how you focus those resources that will determine how much happiness and fulfillment you experience.
Where do you begin?
The first step is to establish clear priorities.
Take time to think through the things that are most important to you. How do your priorities match up with your personal value system?
With this foundation more clearly established, the next step is to take inventory of your resources to ensure that you’re spending each of them appropriately.
Is there alignment between the things you say are most important to you, and how you’re currently spending your precious resources? If not, where do you need to consider re-allocating?
This process is constant and ever-evolving. Pretending that we can dictate exactly what life will look like is a fool’s errand. Don’t beat yourself up if/when things inevitably don’t go exactly as planned. But that doesn’t mean you want to proceed through life haphazardly either.
Spend some meaningful time thinking about what real success means to you. Take an honest assessment of where you are today compared to where you want to be. And finally, consider how you might utilize your assets and resources to help you fulfill that outcome in a more predictable way.
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Two Waters Wealth Management is an independent financial services firm that utilizes a variety of investment and insurance products. Investment advisory services offered only by duly registered individuals through AE Wealth Management, LLC (AEWM). AEWM and Two Waters Wealth Management are not affiliated companies.
Investment advisory and financial planning services offered through Advisory Alpha, LLC a Registered Investment Advisor. Insurance, Consulting and Education services offered through Two Waters Wealth Management, LLC. Two Waters Wealth Management is a separate and unaffiliated entity from Advisory Alpha.