Monday, January 6, 2014

Financial Well-Being - You are Your Greatest Asset

What is my passion? It's empowering others with tools and resources to help them accomplish what they deem most important in life. I am also incredibly curious; always looking for the how, why and what else for everything under the sun. So over the past 17+ years, I've been accumulating skills and knowledge about Financial Well-Being and that's what I'd like to share with anyone interested in reading my posts.

How do I define Financial Well-Being? A holistic approach to actively managing one's assets, income and expenses - tracking and controlling one's personal finances to accomplish what you want. Holistic means that this approach includes daily money management, borrowing, insurance, investments and building a legacy. Historically, each of these topics have been taught and managed in silos, but with today's technology and laws, it's more efficient for them to be integrated and managed in sync. The benefits include peace of mind, increased flexibility to seize opportunities and safety guards to preserve what you have.

First things first:

You are your most important asset, end of discussion. You were born and raised in a unique set of circumstances that contribute to your knowledge, skill-set, thought process and interests. Just as you would evaluate any other asset, it's important to know yourself, first and foremost. What are your strengths? What would you like to improve upon? What are you unwilling to compromise? What is most important to your way of life? There are no wrong answers here, the more specific you can be will help you tremendously in the long run. Take time to find your answers, which will then guide everything else you do.

There are some great resources available online and in print, to identify your strengths, personality and emotional intelligence. All of these are very helpful, as well as writing out your own story. I broke my story down as follows: Early Years, Significant Events, Training, Work and Volunteering. For each topic, you can even add how that impacted your values and direction of your life. Once you have finished, identify four or five key elements that define you. These key elements should help guide your financial decisions, so you are living true to yourself. It's best to review and revise these at least once a year, to make sure you're still living authentically. By writing out your story this way, it will help you in interviews and introductions to clearly state who you are and what you're about.

You are the author and director of your life. Although you can't control and influence everything that happens, you do have a say in how to react and prepare for emergencies and life's uncertainties. Life is full of setbacks and disappointments, so plan how you want to manage the risks you can't control. First consider how you will care and invest in yourself. Your body is an amazing organism that improves or deteriorates based on what you do to it. At a minimum get a good's night rest, eat for fuel & nutrients, exercise regularly and keep your brain active. This will help you think clearly and critically when things come up, without getting overwhelmed. Just like they always say before plane takeoff's, if cabin pressure drops, put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then help others. Invest in your well-being, so you can be useful to others.

Set aside time each week to spend on improving yourself. Maybe you need to learn a skill or trade to pursue your passion. Maybe you want to start your own business. Maybe you want to get more involved in your community. Wherever you are falling short of accomplishing what you want, there are opportunities to grow, learn and improve. Choose one area to focus on at a time. Set some specific targets and define what steps you'll take to reach those targets. Give yourself a deadline. Write it down and track your progress. Seek out resources online and in your community for support, assistance and networks to connect with. Be willing to share your knowledge and skills, as well as glean from others. Don't let the doubters and naysayers get you sidetracked or discouraged, because they sure will try.

Be sure to celebrate along the way. Sometimes the journey can seem incredibly challenging, so take time to acknowledge small achievements, new friendships, goals reached and life itself. Give yourself room to fail and room to express your frustration. Make sure your home is always a safe place where you can exhale and get refreshed for the next round. Have the courage to say no when you've had enough. It's okay to stay in by yourself when you need a little silence, without owing an explanation. Find a trusted friend to talk to when things get too heavy. And they certainly will. Caring for your own well-being and development, will give you greater satisfaction and allow you to make a greater contribution to others' well-being.

As you develop a better sense of who you are, what you want to accomplish and how you can contribute, your direction will become clearer. Over time you will have a stronger grasp on where to focus your time, energy and finances. It's a lifelong process, facing new obstacles and opportunities, but very rewarding. It makes it easier to let go of things that aren't important and change habits to accomplish those things that are.

Next time, I'll write about financial assets.

Thank you for your feedback.

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