If I met me, I would think that money is my why. I understand why this perception would exist. Many of the books I read, shows I watch, and topics I discuss revolve around money. Even this blog is largely based on money topics. Money, investing, and finance are passions of mine for sure. I love to learn about them and apply what I learn to my own life. It is a game of optimization in many ways, a game I play with many aspects of my life. Beating the game is something I know can not be done, which is why I like it so much. You can never “beat” money. At least I don’t think you can. But you can play the game and get money to be on your team.
The reality is that money is a tool I choose to use to pursue my why. It took me a long time to realize this was the case because money is not taught this way in our society. Money isn’t really taught at all, for that matter (Post: 4 Ways to Teach Kids About Money). For years I pursued money with no purpose and no end in mind. I pursued it because I was supposed to and that somehow, I would be happy when I got enough (whatever enough is).
Because this was my mindset around money, I never seemed to gain traction. Money and enough always felt out of reach, like it was meant for someone other than me. Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I made good money working in healthcare, and we lived a comfortable life. But it always felt like we were chasing something and that there would never be an end to it. When it came to money, we had no why.
So what changed? As I mentioned in a prior post, I have tried to become more mindful of most aspects of my life over the past few years. I am trying to make mindful decisions around family, money, health, and just about everything. As I explored my relationship with money, it was clear that we didn’t start with the end in mind (7 Habits of Highly Effective People). I/We were accumulating money, but not wealth. There was no thought, discussion, or plan for what was next when it ended or where we were heading.
I never asked myself about money: “what is my why.” Because I never asked this question, I had no direction or destination and, therefore, no idea where I was on my journey. No wonder I felt lost! The change came when I asked this question.
What Is My Why?
My why is my time. Time is our greatest resource, and it is also very finite. There is no value you can put on time. It means more to some than others, but for me, it has become my greatest asset. When I look at my net worth on my Mint App, I see a number, but I really see my time. It motivates me to move it higher, to get to the point where I have taken my time back completely.
This is not about retiring. I actually love my job and the people I work with. When I am done working, I won’t be retiring FROM something, but I will be retiring TO something. What this is about is starting with the end in mind. I want to own my time, so I can use it how I want to. Time with family, friends, learning new things, passion projects, and anything else that comes up along the way. I want more time with my wife and kids, whom I can never really have enough time with. When I think about my time now, I spend more of my time awake each day with people other than my wife and kids. That makes zero sense!
My why was never money and never will be. I now have an idea what “enough” looks like, but I will never know for sure. Money is the main tool I am using to reach my why. That is why my pursuit of knowledge around the subject matter is so intense. The more I can learn and apply what I learn, the sooner I can fully realize my why.
What Is Your Why?
This is a very personal matter. I challenge you to think about it deeply and come up with your own answer. If you want to leave your response in the comments below, I would love to hear about it.