Have you ever had to do something you didn’t really want to do? When we were kids, adults often told us what to do. As teenagers, we looked forward to being older, thinking we could do whatever we wanted. But then we became adults—and it wasn’t quite what we expected. As adults, we still have to do things we might not enjoy, like going to work when we’d rather stay in bed or going grocery shopping because the fridge is empty. However, when it comes to our finances, we can have more control.
So, how can you take control of your finances and feel in charge? The best way is to align your finances with your values. Your values are like your personal compass, guiding you in life and showing what matters most to you. When your money reflects who you are and what you believe in, you’ll feel more in control of your finances as the captain of your own ship. But how can you make your money match your values? Here are five simple steps.
1. Identify Your True Values
Start by separating your values into two categories: the values you were taught, and the values that truly make you happy. There may be some overlap between the two, but the goal is to find out if there is a difference between the values you think you have and the values that are truly meaningful in your life.
For example, you may have been taught to work hard and pour your soul into a corporate job that pays well, but maybe it’s not bringing you any personal satisfaction. In reality, you might find more fulfillment from a nonprofit job that pays less but whose mission and good work you believe in. To start this process, psychologist Jim Taylor recommends answering the following three questions:
- What do you choose to do in your life on a daily basis?
- What activities are you passionate about that bring you true joy when you participate in them?
- What experiences and people cause you to feel deeply engaged and connected to the world around you?
Digging into these questions can uncover the values you hold that truly fulfill you and bring joy to your life. If you’re constantly unhappy, whether that be from your job, your financial behaviors, or something else, this is a sign that you may not be living according to your true values.
2. Understand Your Money Mindset
You also need to take stock of your money mindset. Your money mindset has been cultivated from your life experience. You may have learned good financial habits from your parents. You may have even learned bad financial habits if you watched your parents fail financially. Whatever your experiences have been with personal finances, they are the key to understanding why you behave the way you do around financial matters.
Understanding your money mindset is important because it allows you to grow intentionally. Identifying a toxic or substandard financial mindset is the first step to changing that mindset. By knowing what you want to change, you’re in more control over how and when you change it.
3. Be Honest With Yourself
Here’s the hard part. You need to be honest with yourself about the alignment of your values and your money mindset. It’s tough to be honest with ourselves. It takes hard work. But it’s been said throughout history that self-reflection is one of life’s most difficult yet rewarding endeavors. (Socrates’ famous statement comes to mind: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”)
Reflecting and being honest with yourself about the disconnects you’ve identified will help you get on the right path to healthier behaviors and goals. If this process leads to greater fulfillment and an easier time reaching your realistic financial goals, it will all be worth it.
4. Sync Your Ideal Life With Your Lived Life
After all this reflection, your ideal life probably looks a bit different from your day-to-day life, your reality. To reach that ideal lifestyle, you must sync your “living life” with the values you identified that actually make you happy. Remember that these are the values that connect you to the activities, experiences, and people which bring you the most fulfillment.
Only then will you be able to create financial goals that truly reflect your values. When financial goals are connected to your values, your finances become the tool that allows you to reach the real goal, rather than being the end goal in and of itself. From this vantage point, you’re ready to experience long-lasting happiness.
5. Work With an Experienced Professional
At Anderson Financial Strategies, our goal is to offer clear, purpose-driven guidance, empowering you to live your life to the fullest. By keeping your values at the forefront, we collaborate to make well-informed financial choices that seamlessly align your financial goals with your principles. If you would like to explore our services for your family or business, please call us at 855-237-4545 to schedule an executive briefing to discuss your objectives.
Shon Anderson is president and chief wealth strategist at Anderson Financial Strategies, LLC with over 15 years of experience. As a fiduciary, Shon’s mission is to provide his clients with quality financial expertise along with rapidly responsive service through an honest relationship. He specializes in providing family office-style services to help his clients organize and focus their financial life. Shon graduated from Wright State University with a bachelor’s degree in financial services and an MBA in finance. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) certification. His insights have been quoted in leading financial news publications such as CNBC, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, Consumer Reports, Forbes, Bankrate.com, Investment News, and Kiplinger. Shon serves as an adjunct professor teaching personal finance courses at Wright State University, leads CFP® exam review courses for Keir Educational Resources, and is president of the CFA Society Dayton. Shon and his wife, Jessica, reside in Sugarcreek Township, Ohio, and are blessed with triplet daughters, Elizabeth, Bridgette, and Alexandra, along with their son, Jacob, and dog, Jack. Over the years, Shon has been involved in several volunteer organizations including the Wright State chapter of Delta Tau Delta as an alumni advisor and was a Big Brother in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program. To learn more about Shon, connect with him on LinkedIn.