Please let me preface this post by the fact that my wife, Nikki, is more grounded than me. I think about the future – a lot. Which bodes well for clients; it doesn’t always for a spouse. I’m obsessed with making things better, incremental improvements, and never stopping. Finding contentment and being grateful comes more naturally to Nikki.
That’s necessary to say because the personal story below is counter to that fact, and I share this with her permission. It was a good learning experience in our marriage and thought you might benefit, too.
Like many professionals in their late 20s-late 30s, we’ve been on the ride. In seven years, we’ve celebrated our marriage, the birth of three children, launch of two businesses, purchase of our first home, and most recent, renovation/addition to our home.
We’ve really found our stride lately as life has seemed to stabilize, and we’re excited to ‘cool the jets’ a bit and focus on our own mental/physical well-being – recalibrate, so to speak.
Somehow, over a glass of wine recently, adding a mudroom to our house came up in conversation. We’ve discussed this before and we’ll likely do so in the future, but the idea was counter to letting the dust settle. Nikki advocated for sooner rather than later because where the mudroom would be constructed is where a deteriorating side deck currently resides. My position is/was the deck can be temporarily patched up. And, (financial planner hat on), we have other priorities upcoming in 2020 that require full coffers (coffers that are being replenished after a major home renovation that ended last Spring).
We quickly agreed to pause that conversation, and I feel compelled to defend Nikki, because again, this is not her nature and that makes me lucky. I’m grateful that it did open a much broader conversation about what to do with ourselves with this new space that we have emotionally. After 7 years of excitement, chaos, and thrill, it’s been fascinating to see our reaction to the slight opening in our mental bandwidth.
My suspicion is that we are not unique, our story is remarkably boring and comparable to many of you – whether you are a budding young professional or sailing off into the retirement sunset. Of course, we all have unique paths, but we all share in the story of what to do with stillness and how we fill ourselves back up when there’s room. My suspicion, too, is that this is the root of many people’s financial problems. When we find these pockets of time in our life that afford us the opportunity to make ourselves better, enhance our marriage, be there more for our children, reset on unhealthy habits, trim the fat on relationships that hold us back – do we take advantage of this time? Or do we feed the craving of chaos that our bodies and minds have grown accustomed to? Busy times happen, no question. It’s apart of growth. We’re also granted restorative times to ‘fill our cups’ as Nikki would say, rather than spend money on the next bit of distraction.
This relationship with time and money, contentment vs distraction, and gratitude will have a far larger impact on your future wealth accumulation/preservation than any investment rate of return, any tax saving strategy, or any promotion you ever receive. One of Blaise Pascal’s more famous quotes is, “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” Making decisions during these still moments in our lives that are truly congruent with who we are make for the greatest wealth creation stories. If embraced, maybe these still moments put you in a better frame of mind at work and make you more promotable. Maybe you notice a market need since you’re less preoccupied and that’s the stimulus for a business opportunity or side hustle. Maybe you simply just don’t make an impulse purchase. All these decisions, over time and compounded, made from a place where you chose contentment for yourself first (as opposed to looking for it elsewhere) will create far more wealth and abundance than any hot stock.
Nikki, thank you for our moments of chaos, and thank you for our moments of stillness.
Stay calm. Stay invested.
Thanks for reading,