Money might be the target of your desire. The reason you work, get out of bed in the morning, maybe even the driving force behind the endless hours you devote to its creation.
You might believe that the more money you have, the happier you will be. You work, strive, invest, purchase lottery tickets, go to casinos and make deals in an effort to have more money. Some people call it the “rat race.” But why do we do this? It is to validate our own success or do we have a higher purpose? Do we see money to confirm our place in the pecking order of friends, family and peers? Or is there a reason beyond our own ego satisfaction of climbing the ladder or impressing others?
While there are some who look at making money as a game—a challenge, a goal—most of us want money to meet the needs of our hearts. We’re talking about feelings of satisfaction and safety; achievement; and the ability to create options attuned to our values. We have a desire for something important and meaningful to us, whether that’s saving for your child’s college or a life of choices in retirement or just peace of mind that you won’t run out of money in your later years.
There’s a difference between our true heart and our emotions around money.
Our emotions are filled with wants and can be manipulated by those who know just where to tug. It’s emotions that rationalize all the reasons why you “should” do something, but they have very little to do with your values.
Your true heart starts with your values.
Life in harmony with your money is centered and focused on what’s most important to you, not allowing yourself to be distracted by what others would have you believe is important. The idea that, in order to appear successful, you have to act in ways that take you in the opposite direction is absurd.
Think of the money trap that is set and sprung for parents who, in trying to raise their kids, are made to feel that unless they hire tutors and coaches and enroll them in bassoon lessons at age three, they are crippling their child’s chance at success and happiness. The financial result of this kind of pressure can be devastating.
Look at the young employee, trying to impress his boss, who believes that buying a top shelf wardrobe on the credit card is the right move. After all, you need to “dress for success.” And yet the financial burden might last long after the clothes have been dumped in the Goodwill bin.
Consider the family that cashes in their retirement investments so that their children can go to an expensive university. While Sally is being treated to an education costing mid-six figures, the parents’ security has been transferred to the Bursar’s office. It’s not that helping with your child’s education is a bad thing. But sacrificing a secure retirement in exchange is losing sight of the real goal.
You might be thinking that this last example is NOT connecting your money and your heart. But what happens if you can’t afford to fund that college—and you do it anyway—is no different than the emotions that tell you that you need to drive the most expensive car, go on the most impressive vacations and buy the biggest home, even when those choices threaten your financial security. It’s a case of turning a “Want” into a “Need.”
When making financial decisions, start with your values. With your heart. When it comes to your emotions, try taking a step back before saying “yes!” and make sure it truly fits with that which is most important to you. Your heart—given some room to breathe—will guide you to the best decision.