What does it mean to you to arrive at your best financial life? Culturally in the United States the common preconception is whoever has “the most” is in the best financial position. Exemplified by our choice of political leaders (ahem, Trump), right down to how we choose our college majors and help our children do the same.
Yet, what does “the most” specifically mean to you? When I chose my college major (back in the ‘90s) the most important thing to me was to see what salaries correlated to which degrees. I then found the best correlations and picked a subject I liked the most from those high correlations. Also, accounting for the number of available jobs within that career major.
At the time, I felt it was the perfect way to make a decision, work was meant to be a place where we optimize our skills toward the highest paycheck. I saw others choosing liberal art degrees and Psychology degrees and scoffed at their ignorance. How could they be so naïve as to choose something that had no viability in the “real world?”
Fast forward seventeen years from high school graduation, my perspective has changed a lot. In my work with clients during career or money coaching, I now start with a values exercise to help them determine what “the most or best” financial life means to them. Yes, I know it sounds hooky and a little idealistic—but it REALLY helps people understand why they are not happy in their current career/financial lives and what life choices may suit them better in the path to long term fulfillment.
The Value exercise starts with looking at a long list of values and picking those that resonate with you.
Go ahead and take a look at the list and highlight about 25% of the words that really resonate with who you are.
From there, create 5 groupings for the values that you outlined (instructions below). To create these groupings, categorize similar values with each other, ensuring that you have at least 3 values categorized together.
Finally, within those 5 groupings, choose the one word in each group that best represents the total category for those values.
To take this to the practical level, I then take the 5 value words that my client has chosen and have them walk me through a week and tell me how each of these values comes alive or fails to. When we come to a value that is not being represented in their week, I dig deeper into the “why’s” of this particular value not coming alive and find the beliefs that are inhibiting them from realizing that value in their life.
Finding the beliefs can be tricky, but the process really helps people understand the trade-offs they are making in service to some of their values more than others.
When you become aware of the tradeoffs you are making, it is easier to understand why you do what you do and whether or not it is time to make a change in your life.
Throughout the exercise people come to understand how certain items within their weekly schedule are serving them and how this is manifesting in their lives through the way they feel.
Often we discount how something makes us feel because we believe it is “a must,” a non-negotiable, if you will. Yet, most things in our lives are negotiable and if they are not, we have the power to choose how we want to process the circumstance.
What are your values and how are they coming to life in your day to day living?
Is there a place within your week that you can incorporate more of one of your personal values?
Please share your values below, if you feel moved to.
In doing this exercise myself, mine were: Playfulness—Learning—Mindfulness—Relationships—Preparedness