Pretense of Success

For most people, the holiday season encourages us to reflect on the year that is coming to a close, and next twelve months that lie ahead. Failures are lamented, successes are celebrated, insecurities are explored, and new plans are made.

One of the intriguing things about my job is the opportunity to see behind the curtain of people’s financial successes (and failures). So often, the person in the extremely large home – who’s car payment is more than my mortgage payment – is flat broke! This seems like a cliche, but I have met an amazing number of “successful” people who have mastered the art of making $350k a year while spending $400k per year with no end in site. In contrast, when I sit down with new (often struggling) business coaching clients, I often hear about how they want an adequate income, the ability to pay down debt, and enough money/freedom to travel more frequently with their family. I am also seeing larger numbers small companies that have a stated charitable giving policy. They are actively setting aside a percentage of their income to help others.

So, my invitation to all of us at the beginning of 2014 is to do three things (WARNING – the Oregon hippie in me is about to come out):

  1. Set aside time each day to reflect on the success that you have in your personal and professional life. And by “success” I’m referring to the fact that we all have jobs, insurance, great people to work with, etc.
  2. Take time with your business partners, teams, or employees to discuss non-financial “compensation”. Money is great. We all need it and want more of it; but how many people do we know (ourselves included) that have left a job for more money only to end up in a miserable situation. There is much more to a good compensation package than just the salary and 401k plan.
  3. Find ways to donate (time and/or money) as a company. This is never easy or convenient. There is always something more pressing to do or a more important place for the money to go. But companies that make charitable giving a priority achieve so much more than what is reflected on their financial statements.
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