Take the opportunity to live well


Of the new year, celebrated Victorian poet Alfred Lord Tennyson said, “Ring out the false; ring in the true.” So in that spirit, we pose two questions:

  1. Do you feel wealthy?
  2. Do you feel “well-thy”?

In response to the first question, if you are like most people, your mind likely went to the size of your bank account. Change one small letter, and your perspective may have shifted dramatically. You may have found yourself thinking of your health, your family, your friends, your role in your community, your connection to a higher power, your career, your hobbies and more.

This begs the question, what really is “a rich life”? In his new book, “The Feel Rich Project,” Michael F. Kay says it’s about improving “our ability to live closer to our values … to build upon a foundation of appropriately aligned beliefs, behaviors, and habits.” He goes on to point out how, for so many of us, a nagging sense of dissatisfaction, of feeling that we are lacking, comes from a life in which our daily habits do not support our deepest values.

Another way to think about this is the common notion that we must first do the right things so we can have certain possessions or experiences in order to be truly happy. This way of thinking can be summarized as “DO, HAVE, BE.” Alternatively, focusing on who you want to be — from the standpoint of your character, your interactions with others, the legacy you wish to leave, what brings you joy — will lead you to do what is necessary to support those values, and you will end up with what you are meant to have. This way of thinking can be summarized as “BE, DO, HAVE.” The second philosophy not only takes the emphasis off external elements (which are much harder for us to control), but refocuses us on why we want to do or have something.

Manisha Thakor, director of wealth strategies for women for the BAM ALLIANCE, was recently interviewed for The New York Times article “How Much Is Enough?” The piece and subsequent reader comments about “enough” and its counterpoint “too much” underscore what a loaded question this is in modern life. It pertains to so many aspects of our experience — money, time, love and connection, to name a few. When our answers to “enough” or “too much” come from outside ourselves, they are difficult to control and can leave us feeling hollow.

So instead of making a list of New Year’s resolutions, why not consider a different project: Identify your core values and take whatever steps necessary to shift your daily actions in the direction of those beliefs. Looking at how you spend your time and your money will give you powerful clues about areas of your life that may be ripe for some tweaks. If family is a core value, what rituals can you put in place to ensure you are devoting the time you want to your loved ones? If financial independence is a core value, have you taken steps to fully finalize your estate, risk management and tax minimization plans? Is your spending aligned with your values?

As you begin 2017, we hope you see it as an opportunity to ensure you’re living a “well-thy” life. From all of us at Kraft Asset Management, we wish you a very Happy New Year!