What do you REALLY want out of life? It may not be what you think… #FinanceFriday By Michael Anger

In my first article, I stated that I believe a new financial and investing paradigm is needed. In fact, I think it’s long overdue. I firmly believe that in many ways, our society’s current way of thinking about money, work, and investing has lost its focus, and that the wrong point of view has been sold to us for decades, and that this has robbed us of the very reason that we should be working, saving, and investing in the first place. In this article, I’ll delve further into that discussion, and some of the interesting research that gives us insight into how and where we’ve lost our way, and what we can do about it.

Let’s look at where we lost our way…

How often do we hear friends, family, or people around us complaining about the need to work exceptionally hard or put in long hours at their job, or that their job doesn’t provide the fulfillment they expected from it in the first place? It is, unfortunately, one of the most common gripes of our species, and it’s the inspiration for all of the familiar anti-Monday and “TGIF” sentiments. If so many people are unhappy and not achieving what they want from what they’re doing, why do they continue to do it? I suppose it’s from lack of knowing any different. The subtle but familiar discomfort is more tolerable than the anticipated pain or perceived risks of trying something new or different that may or may not work out. In three words, here’s where I believe our thinking has gone wrong, and the evidence that supports it; “More is better.” (and, accordingly it follows that “I need more!”.) While this has been the predominant paradigm of Western society at least since the dawning of the Industrial Era when goods could be manufactured and distributed more efficiently (and required people to consume them), modern research has shown that, despite the slick marketing pitches continuously hurled at us every every day encouraging us to consume more, “more is better” simply doesn’t hold up beyond a certain point, when examined in practice. In fact, the open-ended premise of the statement creates a paradox – no matter how much you have now, more is still better. There’s no ultimate objective in this paradigm, no point at which you can say you’ve won, and thus, work and investing can feel like running inside a human-scale hamster wheel, toward goal that can never be attained. After a certain point, more becomes meaningless to human beings. While the debate rages as to the specific amount (and I believe it’s very much based on the general cost of living in one’s area), there are a number of studies that demonstrate that having an income above a certain level won’t do much to increase your day-to-day happiness. First, it was pegged at the equivalent of about $75,000 USD, and then later at $50,000 by another study. The exact amount is secondary to the fact that these studies have repeatedly shown that the “more is better” paradigm is a sham in terms of day to day happiness. “We get used to material things and to money; science shows they donʼt make us happy in the long run.” – Emiliana Simon-Thomas, PhD, science director of the Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkley So – what does lead to greater happiness? It turns out that having a sense of purpose and focus in life does, along with doing the things we enjoy most, and spending time with the people we appreciate most. That focus is the framework of the new paradigm that I suggest we need to engage. As a society, we need a new way of thinking that takes the focus off “more is better” and puts it on “what will allow me to engage my passions in life without worry?” You may be surprised to find when you assess what is most important to your in life, and what will only bring you temporary happiness before you acclimatize to it as “normal”, that what you really value doesn’t require as much money as you were expecting or have been told… particularly if your investment models offer reduced complexity and volatility, but also provide maximized control, security, and returns. One of my coaches taught me not to accept the accumulation of money as being a worthwhile goals, but to instead set goals on creating and living a life of abundance, by first determining what abundance is, then what I need to attain it. The difference between the two schools of thought is massive.

What do human beings really want in life?

In order to check whether we are generally on course or not, we can refer to one very interesting source for advice on what’s most important in life; those at the end of it. A palliative care nurse named of Bronnie Ware made a habit of recording her patients’ end-of- life regrets, and distilled the top 5 that she found to be most often repeated, and crafted them into a book entitled The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. The top 5 regrets noted by Ms. Ware are as follows, in order of prevalence; I wish Iʼd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelin I wish I had stayed in touch with my friend I wish that I had let myself be happier. Note number 2 – “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. Also note that not a single one of them is a wish that they’d had more money. Each one is social and experiential in nature. Lost connections, lost opportunities, unfulfilled desires. Those of us who are still expecting a few more years before our time comes can certainly absorb a lot of wisdom from this list, and this is why the core philosophy in my new financial paradigm is framed around the concept of creating a life abundant in what you are most passionate about, rather than expecting money to deliver happiness. If you aren’t setting that up today, are you going to dye wishing that you had?

Now, let’s get back on track…

Assess your needs and if you’re on target to achieving them. Get clear with yourself about what you really want most from life. Make a list, and prioritize it. Figure out what you expect it will cost you to achieve or maintain that list. Add 10% for reinvestment to accommodate as safe margin for inflation. Set your sights on that number. Are your current investments on track to helping you attain it at your desired retirement age? Are your current investments stable enough to ensure to a very high degree that you’ll achieve true abundance in your life? If not, perhaps we should have a casual, friendly conversation about what you can specifically do to get on track right now, today, to set up a future abundant in the things you want most out of life. You may have many more options than you think you do. You can email michaelanger@paramountequity.ca or call me on 1 855 4 MONEY 4U (1 855 466 6394), and we’ll talk. All the best, Michael
michael_Anger_HeadshotMichael Anger is a hands-on alternative investing expert, having started investing in Canada Savings Bonds at the age of 10. He has expanded and branching out considerably since then, and has experience investing in market securities, private mortgages, and real estate, including flipping and buying rental properties in Canada, New Zealand, and the USA. Michael currently assists investors in achieving a passive, double-digit, cashflow return with income paid monthly on their cash or registered plans (RRSP, TFSA, LIRA, RESP, etc), and makes himself available at no charge to talk to and help investors at all levels with their investment objectives, challenges, and goals.
  Sources: The Salary That Will Make You Happy (Hint: It’s Less Than $75,000) – http://www.forbes.com/sites/learnvest/2012/04/24/the-salary-that-will-make-you-happy-hint- its-less-than-75000/ High income improves evaluation of life but not emotional well-being – https://www.princeton.edu/~deaton/downloads/deaton_kahneman_high_income_improves_ev aluation_August2010.pdf What is the Science of Happiness? – http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-mind/mind-body/article/science-happiness The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing – http://amzn.com/140194065X

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