So how’s that money connection going in your life? As financial planners we spend a lot of time putting things together like budgets, net worth statements, investment policy statements, performance reports, financial plans, investment strategies, asset allocations, tax analysis, insurance reviews and just about any list you can imagine. In gathering all this information, sometimes we forget to ask the most important question:Why? It’s important to know what your motivation is, what you are trying to do, and why you are doing it. The motto of my organization is “Connecting your money with your life.” When I say that to people, they get a puzzled look on their face and those that are more candid ask what it means? My first response to the question is to answer with a question: what are you trying to accomplish in your life? That’s where it gets interesting because people go in one of two directions. First they will talk about the “stuff” like having a vacation home on the water, owning a nicer car (maybe even a midlife crisis car), paying for the kids $50,000 a year education, taking a trip around the world, being able to retire on $100,000 a year and able to have a little left over as legacy for the next generation. All of these things are important, but is that what makes you happy and fulfilled when it comes to your life? If the answer is yes then you can stop reading right here because that does it for you. If your answer is no, then let’s go on to the next paragraph.

To me, connecting your money with your life is about achieving the things that you wanted when you were 10 years old. You want to have good friends that you can trust, to have fun, be happy, be your own person, and have a life of meaning, even if you didn’t get drafted by the Celtics or Red Sox. That means it’s all about what you want to give, or even give back. I hope number one on your priority list is your family. After that it may be your career, social life, religious beliefs, hobbies or giving back to the community. You begin to learn in the financial planning process that it’s not what you accumulate that becomes the most important connection, it’s about giving back and making the world a better place that completes the money-life connection.

The two most important things in my life are my family and my profession. Why else would I be sitting here at six o’clock on a Saturday morning writing an article for people that I don’t even know? It’s because I’m trying to make your life a little better by allowing you to see things that even I, a well trained financial planning professional sometimes forget. The main goal is to connect your money with your life. It isn’t about net worth, it’s about self worth. Whether it’s money we give, wisdom, compassion or even just our time, the Bible had it right when it said that “it’s better to give than to receive.” Not that I’m complaining about receiving since it is my job to help people try to achieve a comfortable life with financial freedom.

So my exercise for you is to think about everything during the next few days that puts a smile on your face. Try to avoid the things that drain your energy and do more things that give you energy. My mantra has always been the five S’s where I try and make everyone Smile, be more Self-Aware, be more Self-Assured, be Smarter and be more Successful. If I’ve done that in a conversation then I’ve accomplished my money-life connection. Find out what you love to do and develop your own S list! Try to keep a log of what made you a little warm and fuzzy that day. Pull out your financial plan that lists your budget, net worth statement, insurance, investments, performance and your “to do” list and start writing out your own list as to why you do what you do, and what makes you feel good. I recently read a book by Simon Sinek and it talked about some of the best people and corporations in the world and why they were successful. The book used a lot of examples like Apple, Harley Davidson, Martin Luther King and the Wright brothers. It focused on 3 questions that separate them from others. What do you do, how do you do it and WHY do you do what you do? The differentiator is WHY! So answer that question about yourself today and check out this video link by spending a few minutes listening to the WHY hypothesis. If you can do that, then you have fulfillment in life, both financially and emotionally. Another resource to take a look at if retirement is high on your priority list isThe New Retirementality by Mitch Anthony. It talks about having the passion and desire to wake up and do the things you love to do for the rest of your life. It’s important to realize there are two sides of our brain. The left side does the calculating of the information. The right side of the brain makes you feel good about it. I feel that getting an 8% rate of return versus 6% is not as important as the daily satisfaction of doing what matters most to you (although we will still try hard to get higher returns!). So use both parts of your brain and you will learn to connect your money with your life. You will live a more fulfilled life as well as a financially successful one!

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