Two qualities unique to the human race can either drive us to reach our full potential – or can land us in a rut:
- Habits – Good and bad. We possess the ability to make a conscious decision to both develop and break them.
- Rationalizing – The ability to support the decisions we make, whether productive or not, with self-justified logic.
In over 40 years of coaching financial advisors, I’ve witnessed more of these two qualities in action than I can recount. I’ve seen financial advisors who were goal-focused but whose professional success came at the expense of their families. I’ve also seen the opposite, with financial advisors using family to justify a lack of professional goal focus. As with many things, balance is important, and perfection isn’t the goal. I’d like to use this as a starting point to reflect on and address an age-old question:
“Am I making the most of my life?”
Psychologists claim that the more active we are, the happier we are. Additionally, the more balanced our life, the greater the chance of us being consistently active.
Through this lens, I offer you the following self-assessment to help determine both where you are and where you want to be. Rate yourself on a 1 to 5 scale, with 1 being “not true” and 5 being “always true.”
- I spend adequate quality time with my family
- I’m able to share intimately with my spouse or significant other
- I communicate effectively with friends, family, and colleagues
- I have faith in something greater than myself
- My actions align with my personal values and beliefs
- I am passionate about my work
- My work aligns with my needs and strengths
- I am disciplined and hard-working
- I engage in regular physical activity, at least three times per week
- I eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
- I make time for reading and learning
- I am actively involved in my community
- I engage in little acts of kindness
- I respect lifestyles and cultures different than my own
- I listen and showcase empathy
My mother-in-law had a piece of stitchwork framed and hung in her kitchen that said, “Little things mean a lot.” When first reading this as a young buck, I’m embarrassed to say, I cracked a joke about it. The glare I received from my wife was much-deserved and caused me to reflect.
I now think it holds the key to personal and professional success. The decisions we make, even the smallest ones, mean a lot over the course of a day, a week, and a year. How do your actions showcase your values?
I thought it might be fitting that I leave you with my favorite poem by one of my favorite childhood authors…
That man (woman) is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;
Who has gained the respect of intelligent men (women) and the love of children;
Who has filled his (her) niche and accomplished his (her) task;
Who leaves the world a better place than he (she) found it, whether by improved poppy, a perfect poem or a reduced soil;
Who never lacked appreciation for the earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who looked for the best in others and gave the best he (she) had.
— R.L. Stevenson
Have a wonderful day, and let’s all of us strive to make a habit of looking for the best in others, and giving the best we have. Now that’s something to rationalize. Cheers.