Are You Pursuing Money When You Should Be Pursuing Your Personal Values?

Life and money are linked. That is an indisputable truth.

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But... are your personal values factored into your financial strategy?

Or... have you put the pursuit of money ahead of your personal values?

It is very easy... if you are focused merely on money... to miss the opportunity, the possibility... of living your life as defined by your values.

Even though life requires money. Money is not the "end". It is merely the "means to the end".

Being able to live your life according to what is important to you is "the end".

The primary significance of money is to what degree it allows you to enjoy what is "really" important to you...

Your Core Personal Values.

Money can either help you... or prevent you... from accomplishing that.

So what exactly are "Personal Values"?

First off... it is important to understand that personal "values" are not the same as personal "goals".

Goals are... the tangible results that you seek. They require money and can be checked off a list when accomplished.

Personal Values are... the intangibles that make pursuit of your goals important and meaningful to you.

Values are those qualities or principles that are most valuable or desirable to you. They are life's "emotional payoffs". The fulfillment of your values... is what life is really all about.

Values are "why" we pursue money.

Most financial planning starts with an assessment of goals. Though important... goals do not provide you with the big picture. The "why" behind the rest of the plan... your core personal values.

And in the end it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years.

~ Abraham Lincoln

Personal values... not goals... are the required starting point for a sound financial plan or strategy. They are the "foundation"... the "bedrock".

The better you understand your own personal values... the more powerful and meaningful any financial plan or strategy that you create will be.

Driven by "the why"... you will be more highly motivated to act. All of your financial choices will now move you in the same direction... the right direction.

Toward being able to live your life according to what is most important to you.

How can you identify your core personal values?


This section is taken nearly word for word from the book "Values Based Financial Planning" by Bill Bachrach.

I wish that I could take credit for developing this process... but I can't. I just use it and have witnessed it's effectiveness.

Bachrach and Associates, Inc. is a premier learning resource for advisors, planners, and the financial services industry.

For years I have successfully used the following process to work with clients and help them clarify... on paper... their personal values.

You too can do this simple process at home with a partner.

It will...

  • Reveal your core personal values.
  • Make any resulting financial plan have more meaning.
  • Move you to action more effectively than anything else.
  • Facilitate accurate goal prioritization.

    To start... all you need is... a pen or pencil, paper, a partner, and the right attitude. Your attitude should be one of curiosity and willingness to learn about what makes your life meaningful to you.

    Here is how the "Values Conversation" works.

    1. Your partner asks you a simple question: "What's important about money to you?".

    2. Your job is easy: Just answer truthfully... from your heart. Take as much time as you need... and give the first answer that comes to mind.

    3. Your partner records your answer at the bottom of your paper.

    4. Then your partner builds on your answer by asking another question... "What's important about [your last answer] to you?"

    5. Again you respond with your first thought... your partner records it just above your previous answer... and then asks you the question again... "What's important about [the value you just said] to you?"

    6. Continue on... in this manner... recording your answers one above the other until you can go no further.

    The words... "to you"... should be stressed. Because money... like values... means different things to different people.

    Some pursue it for security, others for freedom, and others for something entirely different. But all values move us at our deepest levels because they are pure emotion.

    Sample Values Staircase

    Consider the emotional power of values such as... independence, pride, providing for family, accomplishment, achievement, balance, making a difference, fulfillment, spiritual attainment, inner peace, and self worth. These are only a few examples of the values you may consider important.

    Your core values may comprise a completely different list. Of course... there are no wrong answers. Your answer is the right one.

    It is at the highest level where the greatest connection between your values and your financial future is made... usually seven to nine answers up the Values Staircase.

    Regardless of the exact number of "stairs"... every complete Values Conversation moves through three "levels".

    Level 1. Easy answers about the "lower self"... usually about money, material goods, security, and freedom. They are about taking care of business... creating the more immediate payoffs.

    Level 2. More thoughtful responses about doing for others or being with others... such as providing for the family, making a difference, having an impact on my community, social consciousness.

    Level 3. A significant emotional transition where you're focused on the "higher self". Where the values take on an expansive tone and are about large internal/emotional payoffs... fulfillment of my destiny or purpose, becoming the best human being I can, spiritual fulfillment, being one with the universe, total inner peace, nirvana, enlightenment, and so on.

    There are generally several answers at each level... and sometimes people bounce up or down a level in the course of the conversation. But ultimately everyone can reach the third level of pure emotion.

    At the third level... you gain a sense of real purpose of your life and can reflect on the ways smart choices about money impacts all of your values.

    There are those who travel and
    those who are going somewhere.
    They are different, and yet they are the same.
    Successful people have this over their rivals:
    they know where they are going.
    - Mark Caine

    Do you know where you are going?

    Is your current financial strategy moving you closer to being able to live your life as defined by your personal values?

    Don't be so focused on the pursuit of money that you lose sight of what is really important... to you.

    "Because It Matters"... Jim

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