What do you really, really want in life?
A massive home? Beachside house? A personal jet? A Lamborghini? Buying out an entire Jimmy Choo Shop? Swimming with Dolphins? Be President of the USA (but just for a day).
These are just some of the things clients have told me they want in life during a Strategy Planning Day.
Me? Well, given the option I would have a garage full of cars. I once had a discussion with my wife about adding to my small collection and she gave me a sigh and asked where we were going to put it. This led to a discussion about buying a larger home not because we needed one but because we could store more cars. After about 10 minutes she slapped me over the back of the head in the vain hope I would come to my senses.
Anyway, some also tell me what they would like their children to achieve. And that can be a bit tricky if they have other ideas.
But rarely have I been told they want a suitcase full of money. Or a cupboard full. Or even a box full.
There is a reason for this.
Money does not give you anything. It’s, well, boring.
Money gives you units of choices. It gives you the options to do something but on its own its as useless as me trying to operate and remove an appendix.
Money gives us no emotion. No real happiness.
But what we do with money does give us an emotion.
There’s more. I have found if there is too much money, it causes just as many problems then not having any. The fear of losing it, family infighting and business splits to name a few.
So why is it that when it comes to our children, we prefer that they have a better career (hence more money) than a better relationship.
You see my wife and I talk about our children a fair bit. This used to happen over a glass of wine. Or whisky. But now that I wear warm slippers during winter it is over mug of cocoa.
Would we wish them a good career or would it be a good relationship?
My wife went for relationship, and I, being a numbers man, went for the ‘money’.
There is a logical reason for this. As the accountant in the family, I deal with all finances. I realize how important money is and the need for it. Not only that, but I also often sit in front of clients with money issues, and I know the stress and heartache the lack of it causes.
But for my wife, who’s idea of a money issue is when her credit card gets rejected or the ATM asks her to beat me over the head, it is logical that a relationship is the way to go.
These were conversations over 10 years ago. And I was brought up in an era where you choose a career and stick with it. You stayed at one place for years and slowly worked your way up whereas nowadays people expect to be the CEO after about 10 minutes or they leave.
But at the heart of the matter was that we both want the best for our children.
We want our children to have good health, wealth, happiness and a roof over their head.
But lockdowns, Covid19 and in my case becoming mature (or old) has messed things up a bit.
Jobs became insecure and looking at the hoops graduates are asked to jump over just to get on the job ladder is bewildering.
I know many who have degrees yet are working in restaurants, gardening, even cleaning just to live and breathe.
Some have found satisfaction in not going to work, and certainly not commuting. They have realized that a simpler, more outdoor, relaxed life might suit them better. Hence the stampede from Victoria and NSW.
But over the years I have found that money, of course, should not be the ultimate purpose of life, or even its main motivational force. Yet we continue to chase it.
Here is a typical case.
Husband and wife both work hard to pay for a large home, luxury cars and schooling. The husband in particular feels looking after the family is their responsibility and works long hours.
This puts various stresses on the relationship as they have no time for each other, and they decide to divorce. After the stress of that and working out who gets the house, the dog, the kids and the sex toys the ex-spouses restart their lives.
Here is what I find in 90% of such cases. Both will come to the realization that more money and more hours was not important. In fact, most will reduce their working hours overall and survive on slightly less income too.
Which if you think about it if they had both done when they were married the relationship probably would have survived.
So, now I am in my wisdom years have I changed my mind?
I think I would want my boys to have happiness in their relationship first but understand they need money, making it probably just as important.
Bromine Ware was a palliative care nurse and assisted those near the end of their lives. She wrote a book on the main regrets people had in life. Relationships featured very high whereas the only regret about working hours was that most people wished they had worked less. And that money is important but not as much as they thought.
So, let’s go back to the second paragraph above. When you read it you probably thought ‘Yeah…. wouldn’t mind that’ or came up with a list of goodies you wanted.
But very rarely will we say they would like a better relationship or mend a relationship with someone.
Be true to yourself What is it you really want? Because it probably is not what you think it is.