Avoiding Financial Sinkholes to Achieve Quintessential Wealth
By Garrett B. Gunderson
There is wealth and then there is quintessential wealth. Wealth can be impartially measured. How much do you earn annually? How much money have you set aside in investments or savings accounts? How much larger are your total assets than the sum of your debts and other liabilities? Using these yardsticks, it is relatively simple to compare how you are fairing financially to any other chiropractor or small business owner.
Many health professionals were raised to view money and wealth like a game of Monopoly, where the objective is to accumulate as much cash and as many assets as possible. The player who has the most at the end, wins. Note that the game's instructions never offer an explanation as to why Monopoly money has value – other than to buy more properties and cushion yourself for those inevitable turns when you land on the high-rent squares controlled by your challengers.
Do Monopoly players enjoy their hotel stays? Are they there on their honeymoon, for a class reunion or a dream vacation? Why did they board the Pennsylvania or Reading Railroads? Are they traveling to visit family or friends? Are they headed to a hobbyist convention or other special event? Outside the hermetic gaming world, life is a balance of work and play, a truism that is too often overlooked by those ensnared in the pursuit of conventional wealth.
Quintessential wealth is also about net worth, but it extends beyond numbers and decimal places to elements that are not so readily quantifiable. These include how richly do you live your life – day in and day out; how passionately and consistently do you pursue your dreams; and how much better do you leave the world because of the contributions you make to it?
If you've spent your professional life setting wealth as a chief measurement of accomplishment; fretting over interest rates; postponing the pleasures of your heart's sincere desire; or letting your money sit passively in an investment or savings account waiting for it to magically transform into abundance – then you haven't come close to achieving quintessential wealth. Quintessential wealth encompasses these next five foundational components.
Identifying Your Soul Purpose
There is an important distinction between the questions, "what's my job," and "what's my purpose." Going to work each day in order to pay the bills, fulfill your professional responsibilities and save for retirement is an energy drain. In time, your job gradually diminishes your stamina and exhausts your affection for what you do.
And, heaven forbid, you suffer a financial setback at some stage in your business or personal life. All that manufactured energy that you fueled into your business goes poof. Months and years of labor and sacrifice for nothing. By contrast, pursuing your mission in life – your soul purpose – is a labor of love to which you bring heartfelt passion, integrity and unique strengths. It is invigorating. It generates enthusiasm and vitality.
Often, the nature of the work you do when pursuing your soul purpose may be nearly identical to the work you do when laboring at a job. The crucial difference is your perspective and outlook. Moreover, when you strive daily toward a clear objective – a higher calling – you're far less likely to suffer a financial setback. That's because your levels of energy and enthusiasm for your business grow steadily, opening your creative sluices and keeping you agile and better attuned to both the risks and opportunities along your path.
And, should you nonetheless suffer a financial blow as you journey toward your soul purpose, the loss is strictly monetary. The dreams you set for yourself, the beliefs you hold dear, the experiences you've had and the others you've helped are undiminished by any momentary financial reversal. What then is your soul purpose? In short, it's about who you are, not what you do. It is what you were meant to be in this life. It's the career you pursue – not because you're good at doing something, or because your parents or spouse encouraged you to do it, or because it's what you've always done – but because it makes you feel fulfilled, important, aligned with your highest values and creates a legacy that long outlives your productive work life.
An Efficient Financial Steward
No matter how much you earn and save, you can never afford to be caviler with your wealth. Prosperity is too central to facilitating your life's soul purpose. Yet virtually every small business owner, usually unwittingly, permits many thousands of dollars to be vacuumed into powerful sinkholes each year, never to be seen again. What causes the money leaks? Most commonly, the answers include overpaying on taxes, missing opportunities to restructure debt, making ill-advised investments and failing to properly assign risk. (For more on this, see my article in last month's issue titled, "Avoiding Financial Sinkholes"). Identifying where you are oozing money and taking all necessary steps to stem the outflow is incumbent on everyone who seeks true mastery of their financial destiny.
Keeping Money in Motion
Do some chiropractors really graduate college dreaming of socking away funds for a few decades in a 401(k) or other retirement account, and hence drawing intense lifelong satisfaction merely by receiving and reviewing their monthly account statements? When money sits by idly for years or decades in so-called "accumulation" accounts – such as mutual funds, bonds or basic savings – it is not only the money that is stagnant, usually the depositor also atrophies.
Money should be put in motion. Instead of investing it in a 401(k), reinvest your profits back into the business that generated them in the first place – your practice. Or use your gains to buy yourself and your employees more training. Hire on more and better staff. Buy and grow another practice relying on your experience and proven expertise. Fund your soul purpose.
Living Wealthy Now
Perhaps more noxious than any other type of procrastinators are those who hold off on enjoying their lives and incomes, awaiting some day in the far off future when they'll feel sufficiently financially secure to begin enjoying the fruits of their labor. Reality seldom delivers on that distant promise. Why? If you live life with a "fear" mentality – afraid you'll run out of money before you run out of breaths – there doesn't usually come a time in your 50s, 60s, 70s or beyond that you relinquish that fear.
Of course, it is prudent and essential to have a financial blueprint for retirement and old age. Buying disability and long-term care insurance, along with life insurance, are just a few of the safety nets that I highly recommend. But regularly setting aside a fixed portion of your income now to spend on life's many pleasures in the immediate future, is absolutely essential to realizing your soul purpose and living a rewarding existence. I typically recommend placing at least 3% of your take home pay in a "Living Wealthy" account that is strictly to be used for enjoyment, whether that be fine dining, travel, luxury goods, collectibles – you name it. Wealth is meant to be savored. Not someday. Today!
Building Your Legacy
Thinking beyond yourself and your years is a secret ingredient for making your "now" a richer experience. Consistent with soul purpose, those who act on their "Last Will and Testament" while they are still alive – by working on the family relations, businesses, foundations, collections or charitable causes that will one day serve as their legacy, receive the pleasure of witnessing their own bequests in action. Knowing that your life's work will continue on and that you will leave this world a better place for having been an active contributor to it, makes each day more meaningful, rewarding and inspiring.
Winning the Game
What becomes of those heretofore lead-footed profit seekers who ease up on the gas long enough to contemplate how they're earning, spending and perpetuating their wealth? Do their revenue-generation machines grind to a halt? Do they lose their drive and sense of urgency? Hardly. Those who make the active choice to become quintessentially wealthy – not just "Monopoly Money Wealthy" – often discover that their economic engines actually run more efficiently and productively than ever.
In each case we've witnessed, chiropractors and others who genuinely embrace the pursuit of quintessential wealth, report back that their lives are dramatically more fulfilling, more abundant, and more treasured. They no longer merely roll the dice, pass "Go" and collect $200; they relish the journey and the bounty of riches it brings.
Garrett Gunderson is a financial advocate to chiropractors and the author of the best-selling book Killing Sacred Cows: Overcoming the Financial Myths that are Destroying Your Prosperity. Get a free hardcover copy at www.freebookforchiros.com or by calling (877) 389-6547.