Okay. Confession time.
I don't want to be rich.
I have no interest in it, and here's the thing... I don't think most of you want to be rich either.
I think that if you really wanted to be rich you'd be doing a lot of things differently. You might have gotten a different kind of education (not that general/science degree, or the opera school diploma that I'm rocking). You might also think a little less about how much you'd like to SPEND a million dollars, and might be taking more time to try and actually SAVE a million dollars.
Honestly, I think if you really thought about it, you'd have to admit that most of the things you do aren't really helping you "get rich".
That's okay... I've come to terms with that fact for myself.
What I really want is to have the freedom to live one of those... what are they called... lives that fulfill me.
"Wait..." you might say "but wouldn't money help a whole ton with that whole 'freedom' thing? Isn't that the whole Findependance (financial independence) thing that the internets keep talking about?"
Excellent point, faceless stranger. Yup, and I'm going to need some sweet bucks to get there, but money is just the tool... it's not the goal. And when I realized that, it kind of changed the whole game.
Turns out rich people don't know anything (...about how to make me happy)
In the personal finance world there doesn't seem to be anything that gives you more credibility than your net worth. If you're worth a few million, of course you MUST have some pretty awesome money wisdom to share. And the truth is that you probably do. You have a thousand tips on ways to cut back, and ways to make an awesome return.
But that doesn't really help me get at my goal: the whole fulfilling life thing... so I had this thought:
What if instead of looking to the seriously rich for financial guidance... I start looking at seriously happy people and see how they use money.
You know the kind I mean. Those people who no matter how life is treating them they seem to be doing... awesome.
Those people who have found the way to live exactly the life that they want with the resources they have. The people that have managed to block out all the noise about what they 'need' and hone in on the things that get them pumped up.
Now those are the financial stories that I want to hear. I'm crazy interested in how they use money, because they've managed to take their resources and channel them into the values that make them tick. Whether it's a ton of cash, or just a few bucks... they've managed to make a life, and it seems pretty dang fulfilling.
Now that's worth emulating!
It might take less than you think...
When you change the conversation around money, and stop just assuming that 'more' is the answer... it forces you to ask tougher questions.
It didn't take me long to realize that the reason I had been avoiding thinking about money (and man... did I avoid it) wasn't because I was bad at math, or terrible at finances, it's because I was terrified to face the question at the heart of all this personal finance stuff:
What do you actually want your life to be?
Now maybe that question doesn't scare you as much as it scared me. But no matter who you are, that's the core of it all. And that's the question that people who are really great with their money know the answer to.
They're answering it in the way that they invest every dollar and every bit of time they have.. Investing those resources directly into the life they want to be living.
Yes. Money gives you options, but unless you know what you want to do with that freedom, it doesn't really matter. And if you wait until you have the big pile of money to decide what you want that 'free' life to look like, you might miss out on the revelation that I had:
I don't need much to have the life that I want.
I don't need to be rich to be free.