Build on your strengths
September 2, 2013
Editor's note: This column was published previously in The Aspen Times.
What area of your financial life would you like to improve? Would you like to increase the amount of money you save and invest on a regular basis? Would you like to feel you are on track for future financial transitions? Would you like to give more of your financial resources to causes that are important to you? How about being more intentional about where your investments are positioned in companies that reflect your values? Do you want to reconnect with the financial tools you have accumulated over the years and understand if and how they are working for you?
Maybe you would like to improve on the emotional side of finances. Would you like to have less stress and communicate better about money? Would you like to feel better about your financial decisions once you make them? Do you want to take charge of your financial life instead of playing the victim of circumstance?
We all have areas that need improvement. We are a work in progress, and it is the journey, not the destination, that will bring fulfillment in our lives. Every day is a new day to make different choices about our attitudes and our beliefs and to look at changing our behaviors.
A great way to build momentum in making progress is to look at the areas of your life where you have been successful. What led you to develop in that competency? Are there skills or behaviors that you learned from your family of origin? What life lessons (positive and negative) have played a part in your growth? We want to learn and grow from our mistakes or failures. Did you set goals? What attitude did you embrace? What time commitment did you make? What disciplines did you put into place that moved your forward? How were you held accountable? What support and encouragement did you get along the way?
I often look at our physical lives as paralleling our financial lives. If you want to have a healthy body, you need to be intentional about exercise and diet, constantly making changes to fit your personal situation during different seasons of your life. The same can be said for our financial lives. There is no perfect recipe or illusive "10 steps to success" that we so desperately want. We all have heard to eat a balanced diet low in saturated fat and processed foods and to get regular exercise as a foundation to health. We also have heard to spend less than you earn, avoid consumer debt, maintain liquidity, set long term goals and save toward them as foundational to our financial health. In both of these situations, you need to dig deeper and look at how to build on those foundations for each unique situation.
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So look at your life — in what areas do you feel you have been successful? Celebrate what you have accomplished. You won't stop pursuing excellence in those areas; you will continue to build on and improve as you get constructive feedback. Take a realistic view of your financial life. Decide on one or two areas that you would like to improve upon. Apply the techniques, skills, knowledge and attitude that have helped you in other areas of merit.
Danielle Howard is a certified financial planner practitioner and financial life planner. Her office is at 23300 Two Rivers Road in Basalt. She helps her clients in creating healthy financial lives. Visit her at http://www.howardfinancialresources.com, or call 970-927-3909. Advisory services are offered through Lighthouse Financial LLC, a registered investment adviser. Securities are offered through Cambridge Investment Research Inc., a broker, dealer and member of FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and Howard Financial Resources are not affiliated.