I truly hope you have been able to take some extra time off, spend time with loved ones and ponder what is most important to you in your future. Over the last 24 years, it has been my wish to help empower you readers to help you design and build the life you want.
At this time of year, I have traditionally talked about the process and techniques of goals setting. Instead, I am going to ask a more basic question:
Is it going to bring you joy?
It’s a great question to ask before buying something, signing up for something or making any important decision.
More deeply, will it bring youlasting joy? (Or at least utility.)
Lot of choices – especially purchases – can bring temporary excitement or glee but, like a sugary drink or desert, often leave you feeling empty very quickly.
Some things lead to a long-term feeling of satisfaction, usefulness or, hopefully, actual joy on some level.
My suggestion is obvious – actively seek out the items that will bring you joy, whether those items are things, people, activities or feelings. And when you find them, celebrate and appreciate them.
Acknowledge when something gives you lasting satisfaction, and not just a quick sugar rush. If that thing is a relationship, then cherish and nurture that relationship. Invest the time and care needed to make it grow.
My second suggestion is not quite so obvious. That is to actively avoid those things - activities, people, material items, whatever - that do not give you joy.
Let me stress the word actively in that sentence. Avoiding people that suck your energy or things that suck your wallet can be huge steps toward lasting happiness. And they can save you a lot of money, as well.
Ah, yes, the money part. After all, this column is called Dollars and Sense for a reason.
Many people buy things in order to feel fulfilled, or to try to fill an emptiness, loss or other missing feeling.
There’s a fine line, as we all like nice things. Who doesn’t? And in our society, we are blessed (or cursed) with an ability to buy things that most of the world’s population can only dream about. But buying things only fills that gap for a short time.
My heartfelt wish for you is that you achieve clarity on which people, activities, feelings, relationships and even things, that are truly important to you, and that you become free to act accordingly.
Clarifying your own personal vision will move you miles closer to the point where decisions on what to do or buy, what career to pursue and who to hang out with, become much easier.
Such clarity may save you a lot of money. Or it might lead you to decide money is not important, and have you devote your life to charity or devotion. That can only be up to you.
This is not easy or a one-time thing. I find myself asking these questions regularly, and sometimes changing my answers. I am pleased to say, however, that my true values and precious items have stayed the same.
If you want some tips on visioning, setting specific goals and developing a plan to reach them, here are some links to my YouTube videos on these topics:
Setting Goals or type into your browser: goo.gl/3ABxhG
SMART Goals or type into your browser: goo.gl/gu6EhU
The Power of Being Grateful or type into your browser: goo.gl/1faAEY
Please accept my best wishes to you for a happy, healthy and decisive 2017!
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Dollars and Sense is meant as an introduction to this topic and should not in any way be construed as a replacement for personalized professional advice.
Please consult legal, tax, insurance and investment experts for advice on your unique situation.
David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, CIM is a Certified Financial Planner and senior advisor with Christianson Wealth Advisors, a Vice President with National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.