What is success and “True Wealth”? In my opinion, success is living life on your terms, caring for yourself and your family, making a contribution, adding value and practicing a little happiness. I read recently that when Jefferson wrote that we have the right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”; the pursuit of happiness part was tied to property ownership. Go figure, good thing this is a personal finance blog!
The big secret in my view is that it does not cost that much to be successful and live a life of True Wealth. In fact, I have known hundreds of people over the years that live wonderful and full lives on small budgets.
Be a Money Viking
Jerry and I are continually researching, analyzing and thinking of new ways to save and invest. We post our findings every week here at The Money Vikings. But this is not solely for the sake of some number in a bank account, it is to provide the foundation and fuel to live an extraordinary life. These concepts can be played out in our daily lives through small and big ways.
Be the Lion
One metaphor for living a life of true wealth, like a King, is to be like the lion. Live life as King of “your” “own” jungle. So notice I said YOUR own jungle, which means live life on your terms. You develop your framework for success. So to achieve this, what are some practices and mindsets that we can deploy to set ourselves up for a life of extraordinary success?
What have you been fed?
First of all, I think we are told a pack of lies by institutions, the media, society etc. about what “success” looks like. I grew up watching Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous that glorified the glamorous life of super wealthy folks. What you did not know was anything about those people’s true life success and happiness.
Not the millionaire next door
We also came to find out years later that most millionaires lived nothing like this fictitious accounts in the media and pop culture. Because of the work of the late Professor Stanley we now know what a true millionaire looks like from his groundbreaking book The Millionaire Next Door.
Did they have good relationships with their kids, spouses, etc.? Who knows? Were they contributing in a way that was making the world a little better? who knows? Did they live a life of inner peace based on wisdom and experience? Again, many facets of this so called glamorous life were not discussed. I have known some very wealthy and completely miserable people.
In fact, study after study shows that over a certain income threshold (typically around $70k per year) your capacity for happiness and contentment with life has nothing to do with earning one more extra dollar. Think about it. At that income level most human physical financial needs are met; i.e. housing, food, a bit of security, some entertainment, some travel, etc. The lame media is constantly sending a message that something about you is off or missing, so go buy XYZ product to make things better. LOL! Jokes on all of us.
In my opinion, here are 7 habits and mindsets to practice to live a life of extreme success on your own terms:
1. SAY “NO” TO SOME THINGS
Learn what things, obligations and people to say “No” to. You are one person with so much energy and time each day that needs to find balance among various priorities. Some of those priorities are public and some are private that serve your growth. You cannot defy the laws of physics. People need a combination of work, rest, interactions, etc.
Learn to say “No” at work when it is appropriate, learn to say “No” to family and friends when it is appropriate. Please learn to say “No” to consumerism, the media and society when it does not serve you. When I observe people that say “yes” to everything they tend to be burned out and unable to function at full capacity. But what things am I supposed to say “No” to? If you truly listen to yourself, you will know. Are you stretched too thin and truly not able to give anymore? If so, then it is time to say “No”.
2. SAY “YES” TO THE RIGHT THINGS, EVEN WHEN THEY SEEM HARD
Wait, you said say “No”. I know, but we all also need to learn when to say “Yes” to opportunities. Some things in life are scary, but when we say “Yes” our world expands. We grow and evolve and become stronger. There are many times that saying “Yes” in life seemed daunting and outside my comfort zone. I can say in hindsight, I was usually very happy I had taken the chance and said yes.
3. IT’S YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO MAKE THINGS INTERESTING AND PASSIONATE
I completed a very practical Bachelor’s degree and work in a standard industry. But many years ago, I took night classes in the arts and earned an art degree as well. One of my art teachers always said, “if you are bored with a drawing or painting, it is your responsibility to make it interesting…” I think the same is true for life. Therefore it is your responsibility to entertain you and make life fun and interesting. Think about this, this means life is something to play round with and experiment with. That is a very liberating concept! You are responsible for how you feel, do not abdicate that to others.
4. KEEP BUILDING
Keep building all the great things in life like strong relationships, a community, your skills and your assets. Since this is mainly a personal finance blog I will focus in on the assets. A person will want to continual add and grow their assets. Remember, life is choose your own adventure in some ways, so there are many assets to choose from. Most wealth asset foundations are built in small increments, $50, $100, $300 at a time. The important thing here is to get started.
5. DO NOT LET PERFECTION BE THE ENEMY OF GREAT EFFORT
Effort and passion are important, not perfection. Nothing will ever be perfect in this world, and in a way that’s what makes things perfect. When you are getting your financial house in order, be good to yourself. It will take time to put the pieces together. It takes years of saving, investing and building healthy habits in order to reach a point where you feel like you are making real progress.
6. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
We must take responsibility for the now, the present, the only thing we actually ever really have. Therefore there is a place and time for complaining about your difficult circumstance in life. Every human being at some point has faced some kind of interpersonal demons or outward challenges of some kind or another. Many people waste many productive years of their lives complaining about their crappy childhood, bad teacher, mean boss, blah blah blah! We need to learn to move on at some point and stop playing the victim.
There comes a time to put things behind us and move forward with action to make things right or better! Or, at least manage the challenge and take responsibility for what we can do now to improve our situation. If needed, seek professional help if required to work through some stuff. So at some point we have to wake up each day and make the best of what we have. Therefore think about the word “responsibility” for a moment, it actually sounds like “response” and “ability” combined. So in other words you have the capacity and ability to respond to the world on your terms.
7. DEFINE YOUR OWN SUCCESS
One amazing thing I realize doing personal finance blogging is that we all define our own success and failure. Success is not one specific number in an investment account or one specific kind of job title. It is for you to define for yourself and do not let anyone take that from you! Some people live like Kings off a half million dollar portfolio, traveling and enjoying freedom. Others shoot for other goals and lifestyles. Some live frugally in big cities or enjoy a slower paced country life. The point is to find what works for you and your family!
I am no pop psychologist. These are some ideas that seem to make sense to us. Please consult a professional for individual issues. This is in no way advice to any particular individual.