By Sean Gerlin, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®
While money may not buy happiness, there’s no denying it can give you more opportunities. Maybe you want to increase your charitable contributions or focus on socially responsible investing. No matter the goal, you can weave your personal values into your day-to-day financial decisions.
At Envision Wealth Planners, I enjoy helping my clients define money goals and values that help them live meaningful and purposeful lives. Aligning your personal values with your financial situation may sound simple, but it can be a complicated endeavor. To help, we’ve developed a short guide on how you can better align your personal values with your financial goals and habits.
Identify Your True Values
Start by separating your values into two categories: the values you were taught, and the values that truly make you happy. There may be some overlap between the two, but the goal is to find out if there is a difference between the values you think you have and the values that are truly meaningful in your life.
For example, you may have been taught to work hard and pour your soul into a corporate job that pays well, but maybe it’s not bringing you any personal satisfaction. In reality, you might find more fulfillment from a nonprofit job that pays less but whose mission and good work you believe in. To start this process, psychologist Jim Taylor recommends answering the following three questions:
- What do you choose to do in your life on a daily basis?
- What activities are you passionate about that bring you true joy when you participate in them?
- What experiences and people cause you to feel deeply engaged and connected to the world around you?
Digging into these questions can uncover the values you hold that truly fulfill you and bring joy to your life. If you’re constantly unhappy, whether that be from your job, your financial behaviors, or something else, this is a sign that you may not be living according to your true values.
Understand Your Money Mindset
You also need to take stock of your money mindset. Your money mindset has been cultivated from your life experience. You may have learned good financial habits from your parents. You may have even learned bad financial habits if you watched your parents fail financially. Whatever your experiences have been with personal finances, they are the key to understanding why you behave the way you do around financial matters.
Understanding your money mindset is important because it allows you to grow intentionally. Identifying a toxic or substandard financial mindset is the first step to changing that mindset. By knowing what you want to change, you’re in more control over how and when you change it.
Be Honest With Yourself
Here’s the hard part. You need to be honest with yourself about the alignment of your values and your money mindset. It’s tough to be honest with ourselves. It takes hard work. But it’s been said throughout history that self-reflection is one of life’s most difficult yet rewarding endeavors. (Socrates’ famous statement comes to mind: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”)
Reflecting and being honest with yourself about the disconnects you’ve identified will help you get on the right path to healthier behaviors and goals. If this process leads to greater fulfillment and an easier time reaching your realistic financial goals, it will all be worth it.
Sync Your Ideal Life With Your Lived Life
After all this reflection, your ideal life probably looks a bit different from your day-to-day life, your reality. To reach that ideal lifestyle, you must sync your “living life” with the values you identified that actually make you happy. Remember that these are the values that connect you to the activities, experiences, and people which bring you the most fulfillment.
Only then will you be able to create financial goals that truly reflect your values. When financial goals are connected to your values, your finances become the tool that allows you to reach the real goal, rather than being the end goal in and of itself. From this vantage point, you’re ready to experience long-lasting happiness.
Does Your Advisor Value Your Values?
My mission is to provide goal-oriented advice so you can live your life to the fullest. With your values in mind, we work together to make strategic financial decisions that merge your financial goals with your ideals. To learn more, schedule a no-obligation introductory phone call or reach out to me at email@example.com or 407.720.6535.
Sean Gerlin is founder, principal, and a financial planner at Envision Wealth Planners, an independent financial advisory firm founded on the core values of family, honesty, and a determination to be a master of the trade. With almost 10 years of experience, Sean specializes in serving affluent families and commercial real estate executives and brokers, providing comprehensive, customized financial guidance and services for their complex financial needs. Sean acts as a family CFO, managing and coordinating the many moving pieces of his clients’ financial lives. Sean is known for his commitment to building long-term relationships and paying personal attention to each client. He is passionate about helping his clients experience the relief that comes from having organized and well-planned strategies and portfolios, and he desires to help them by shouldering some of the financial burdens they face.
Sean has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Chartered Financial Consultant®, and Chartered Life Underwriter® certifications. When he’s not working, you can find him cooking, eating good food, traveling, coaching his son’s baseball team, or playing golf. He loves spending time with his wife, Nicole, and their two kids, Avery and Will, and entertaining friends in their beautiful backyard. To learn more about Sean, connect with him on LinkedIn.