What is being wealthy to you? For some people, wealth is having the latest and greatest toy, like that new boat or car. For some, wealth is measured by their invested assets and some measure wealth by the intangible things in life, like love and relationships. In this month’s article we will discuss society’s infatuation with wealth. In addition, we will discuss how wealth can potentially be defined and how this definition of wealth could help you improve your life for the better over the long run.
First, let’s think about examples of people in your life. Consider someone you know that makes significantly more money than you, which at times may cause you to be envious. What if that person spends all of their income on their lifestyle? They may have the new car, the bigger house, but in return they may have very little money in the bank. Is that person then considered wealthy to you? Another example, consider someone else you know, that may make significantly less than you, but this person saves a lot of their income. Then, due to their low-cost lifestyle and savings mindset, they will have the ability to retire by the age of 55. Is this person considered wealthy to you? One of these people will always have to work in order to maintain their lifestyle, while the other will be able to live off of their savings.
As a society, we have a bad habit of analyzing and judging other people’s financial situation based upon what we see and the rumors we hear. Once we think we have someone’s situation figured out, we sometimes compare their financial situation to our own, where upon we deem ourselves as either financial successes or failures by comparison. With so many unknown variables about another person’s financial situation, why do we choose to drive ourselves mad by comparing our financial situation to some unknown? Why are the material things we see of others our benchmarks of success? This is where the definition of wealth becomes wrongly defined. Money, while a very powerful tool, only provides you a more comfortable life, it does not provide you a happy and fulfilling life.
Wealth should be viewed as something that cannot be obtained via material things, but rather through an improvement of your overall lifestyle. Ultimately, only you can define what wealth is and whether you have achieved it or not. To most successful and fulfilled people, wealth is something that they measure internally. Your wealth should not be something you compare to someone else, but rather to yourself. True wealth is predominately made up of items that people cannot see. Others cannot see your retirement accounts, the college savings account for your kids, or even that you are financially supporting a sick relative. It doesn’t matter that people can’t see these important things quite frankly, because as long as you are making the important objectives a priority, you will ultimately build wealth. It’s this type of wealth that will provide you with a foundation to build upon and long-lasting satisfaction.
Wealth is not something that occurs overnight, instead wealth is created by doing many little things right repeatedly where upon it gradually builds to something greater. If you are trying to build wealth for yourself, consider following this advice. First, surround yourself with people that love and support you. “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier”, says Dr. Robert Waldinger, the Director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development*. Second, pursue a career that will provide you with meaning. You will spend over half your life at your job, make sure it is something you at least enjoy doing. Lastly, make sure you are putting yourself in a comfortable financial situation, if you are not in one already. Being comfortable does not mean having a lot of money, it means that you are depending solely upon yourself, spending less than you make, and saving for the future. If you do all three of these things over the long term, you should be creating a wealthy lifestyle. One you should be feel good about.
Ultimately, it comes down to: What is worth it to you? Stop worrying about what those around you have and cherish the things you do have. In the end, the little things you are doing now, like saving and investing extra money, bettering your career, and surrounding yourself with good people, will eventually amount to something larger than you ever thought was possible. In the meantime, correct the habits that need to be corrected and keep building. If you have any questions about this article, feel free to contact us.
Harvard Business Review: How will you measure your life?
Ted Talk: What makes a good life?