Few people live satisfying lives by accident. Knowing what we believe and value is a way to start defining what success might look like. And just as we are each hard-wired by God with certain spiritual gifts, our values, too, can be hints at how to put our money where our hearts are.
The first step to achieving a life of meaning and purpose as a wealth creator is discovering what your core values are. I define “core values” as your unique operating system, kind of like the DNA in every cell of your body that regulates how your body functions. Core values are hard–wired. They define, in a very real sense, who you are and where you thrive. Many of our natural tendencies and talents spring from our core values.
I’ve come to understand my own core values, which include courage, faith, presence, wholeness, innovation and generosity. My values tend to fall within the broader motivations of love and wisdom. It’s my innate desire to be a voice of loving wisdom in whatever circumstance I find myself. I also value knowledge and have advanced certifications in a field that is data–driven, but it takes more effort for me to work on knowledge projects than it does to build relationships, which feels almost effortless for me.
Get wisdom – know yourself
It’s common for your values to become more clear over time as your life unfolds and your capacity to understand yourself grows. The pace of self–discovery and “knowing” is different for everyone, but as Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” In my own values journey, I’ve come to appreciate how my understanding of what makes me tick has been illuminated and become more nuanced. I’m able to better articulate my values at this stage of my life than when I was younger. Some of that comes with the perspective of time and life experiences.
I’ve found that through the process of discovering our values, we can recognize deep truths about ourselves and begin to understand how our money and our values can align. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- How am I wired to respond almost effortlessly in certain circumstances, and where do I have to exert more effort to fulfill a value that is important to me?
- Where might I need to prioritize one value over another, depending on a specific situation or time in my life?
- How can I shift my spending and investing decisions so they are in harmony with what I value most?
As you recognize what you value most, your definition of success may change. Understanding what the money is for in your life may reveal paths you haven’t considered or shift your mindset to focus on different values, such as freedom, community, fun, or creativity, as a new measuring stick for success.
Put your money where your heart is
For those interested in philanthropy and generosity, discovering your core values is the key to putting your money where your heart is. If you want to avoid the debilitating downsides of wealth, you need to discover the purpose of your wealth. Your values are a compass guiding you to a life of meaning, so that wealth can produce the best outcomes for you, your relationships, and the world around you.
In order to understand our core values, we begin by exploring fundamental truths about ourselves.
- Who are you? Who do you love? What is your life about?
- What stage of life are you in right now? What are the challenges and opportunities of this time and place?
- What are the really big things you want to experience, do, see, or create in your life?
The answers to these questions can help us hone in on the values we hold most dear. One of my favorite questions to ask wealth creators as we begin our work together is this: “Money is a means to an end, a means to achieving something important to you. What is most important to you?”
Asking and answering these fundamental questions about ourselves, our lives and our dreams is the beginning of an “Ideal Outcomes” conversation. When you look back on your life, will you experience a sense of satisfaction that your choices have reflected your most-treasured values and your “ideal” experience?
Money plays a huge part in our most important decisions – how we spend our time, who we spend it with, the experiences we can have, and our sense of purpose in the world. Money and values go hand in hand.
An important mindshift occurs through this personal discovery process. Money itself is not the objective (earning it, growing it, controlling it) anymore. Instead, money becomes energy and a tool to achieve the outcomes you care most about. These outcomes can be tangible things like education, travel, family experiences, and also bigger concepts such as freedom, community, generosity, and joy.
Wealth does increase choices. And it often allows more time and freedom, too, to do and experience the things you really love. While almost everyone thinks about what they care about most from time to time, many highly successful couples and individuals don’t carve out the time to really think deeply about these questions and prioritize what matters most to them.
Take some time today to think about your own giving DNA, how you’re wired, why God has made you this way, and why he’s given you what he’s given you, so you can align all these things and live a more satisfying life.
Photo: Hal Gatewood, Unsplash