We’ve rung in a new year with new possibilities and the best of intentions. Some of us might want to eat better, exercise more, work on relationships, or something else. Whatever your resolutions may be, the start of a new year marks a point of new beginnings that holds the promise for a better life. Isn’t that what we ultimately want…a better life?
Many spend a lifetime searching for joy, peace, and fulfillment, only to find their path led them to pursue prominence, possessions, and pleasures. Why is it that we sometimes get off track? Thomas Merton, an American Trappist monk and writer, once said, “People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.” Dr. Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, commented on how sometimes you can find yourself achieving success that has come at the expense of other things far more important or valuable to you.
“People may spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to find, once they reach the top, that the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall.”
I once knew a man who spent much of his life being a doctor. He was a good doctor. One day when he decided to retire, he told me that he never really wanted to be a doctor. He went into the medical field because his father had been a doctor and thought he should too. “If I could have done anything, I would have been a pilot,” he said.
What is important to you? And perhaps more importantly, why? If exercising and eating better are important goals for you, why? Do you want to fit into a smaller pair of jeans, or do you want to be healthy enough to be there for your family, creating memories for years to come? If saving more money for retirement is an important goal for you, why? When you drill down into the reasons for doing something, you discover a more enduring and motivating purpose that will lead to goals being accomplished and progress towards a better life.
We’re all on our own unique journey. You might follow a path someone else has laid out for you. You might follow a well-traveled path because it seems safe. Or you might blaze your own trail if you’re confident you know where you want to go. Whatever your choice, you will experience life in your own way.
This year when you think about your financial goals, try asking yourself…Why is money important to me? Does it afford me the freedom to spend time with those I care about? Does it allow me to give to causes that can change the lives of others? Or is it something else? There are no wrong answers here.
Once you know what’s important to you, you can begin to view all decisions in your life through that lens. This “statement of financial purpose,” or whatever you'd like to call it, can be an enduring thing that helps inform all decisions. You can then come up with meaningful goals in support of this purpose that lead you to a more intentional life. Allowing your why to guide you helps you get to the top of your ladder and experience joy, peace, and fulfillment, knowing you've put your ladder on the right wall.
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