I hope that my articles over the last few weeks have encouraged you to think about your financial decisions a little bit differently. I hope that instead of wondering whether you’re making the “right” or “wrong” financial decisions, you can start thinking about how each decision will or will not add to your personal happiness.
My hope is that the prospect of working towards a happier life is exciting, but I also recognize that it comes with plenty of challenges.
The first big challenge is figuring out exactly what it is that brings you lasting happiness.
The second big challenge is figuring out what steps you need to take in order to create a life that includes more of that happiness.
The third big challenge is figuring out how to fit those steps in between all of the very real (and likely unexciting) financial responsibilities you already have.
It’s an exciting endeavor, but it’s one that involves a lot of thought, a lot of planning, and potentially some scary decisions to break away from certain parts of the life you’ve spent years building.
And the truth is that even if you’re up for all of that, even if you know where you’re going and you’ve started down the path, you’re going to face even more challenges that will try to knock you off track.
Day-to-day responsibilities like your job, your kids, household chores, and the like will work together to sap your energy and take the focus off your long-term vision.
Friends, family, and co-workers may feel threatened by the changes you’re making and might try to discourage you from chasing your biggest dreams.
And of course, nothing is ever a straight shot to the top. There will be ups and downs along the way and you will have to keep taking one step after another, even when it’s hard.
The process is never pretty. But it IS possible to get what you want out of life, and from my experience there’s one thing above all else that will help you do it.
A good person who’s got your back.
I am here because of others
I feel incredibly fortunate to be where I am in my life right now.
My days are spent doing work that I love, helping people I care about. My mornings, nights, and weekends are spent with an amazing woman and two awesome kids. And this morning I’m taking my boys up to Boston to spend two weeks with my parents and brothers, the kind of freedom I didn’t have not too long ago.
I’m a lucky guy.
But here’s the truth:
- There have been a LOT of ups and downs on the way here.
- There are STILL a LOT of ups and downs on a regular basis.
Nothing is ever good all of the time, and there have been many occasions (even recently) where I’ve felt down about the direction in which things were headed.
And in those moments I’ve relied on two people in particular to pick me back up.
My wife, Casey, is a constant rock. She’s the one who pushed me to start this business in the first place instead of looking for “a real job” because she knew it’s what I really wanted to do. And even in the tough times she continues to believe in what I’m doing and support my vision.
And then there’s Kate, the one other person I talk to at least once a week (and usually much more) and who is constantly pushing me to make sure that the actions I’m taking every day are truly in pursuit of my happiest life.
These are the people who understand my core values and know the big picture ideals that I’m working towards.
These are the people who know my past and what I’ve already been through.
These are the people who are regularly available to talk to me about what I’m working on and what I’m struggling with, often at the drop of a dime.
These are the people who are constantly supportive, but who aren’t afraid to give me some good, honest criticism when I need it.
These are the people who pull me out of the weeds of my day-to-day worries and help me re-focus on doing good work and taking the important steps towards my biggest goals.
These are the people I rely on to pick me up when I’m down and to support me no matter what.
These are the people who have my back.
Where can you find that kind of support?
I sincerely hope that you already have at least one person in your life who understands your personal dreams and supports you in your quest to reach them.
But if not, there are a few places you can look.
Family and friends
In an ideal world, the people you’re already closest to can also be your biggest allies here. You already share so much with them, and it would be great if at least some of them are willing to hop on board with your new adventure.
Just know going in that people are often comfortable with their routine and can feel threatened by change. They may not understand the changes you want to make and therefore may not be immediately supportive.
It doesn’t mean that they don’t love you, but it does mean that you may need to look outside of your current circle for support.
Whatever it is you want to do, it’s likely that there’s at least one local organization that’s geared towards helping people do it.
Sites like meetup.com can help you find people with the same interests. Or you can look for classes if there’s something you want to learn. Or volunteer opportunities if there’s something you want to try.
Whatever you want to pursue, there are other people pursuing the same thing who you can connect with. (By the way, if you’re like me and have trouble making new friends, this post might help.)
Of course, you’re not restricted to your immediate surroundings. There are countless online communities dedicated to just about every topic you can possibly imagine, and some of those can be a great source of support.
When it comes to personal finance, two of my favorites are Babycenter’s Family Finances community and the Bogleheads forums. I’ve also been impressed by most of what I’ve seen within Reddit’s personal finance forum.
You may not get quite the level of support you would get from more personal connections, but these online communities can still be incredibly helpful.
There are lots of people out there writing, podcasting, and videoing stories about their personal journey, and those stories can often be a tremendous source of hope, inspiration, and advice.
I know I’ve personally derived a lot of motivation and picked up a ton of practical advice from blogs like Zen Habits, Fizzle, and Mr. Money Mustache. While I don’t know any of those people personally, many of their stories have hit a nerve and shown me that I’m not alone on this journey.
You do have to be careful here, as just about anyone can start a website these days and not everyone has the best of intentions. But when you find someone you can relate to, it can be a big help.
Even if you find some great people through the avenues above, you may find that you end up wanting a little bit more than support and encouragement. You might decide that you also want help from someone who’s already been through what you’re going through, has some specific expertise, and can guide you step-by-step through the process.
For example, a personal trainer could help you create a workout regime tailored to your specific goals. A business coach could help you focus your efforts on the things that will generate sustainable income. A financial planner could help you align your money with your personal goals in pursuit of your happiest life.
A good coach can really be the best of both worlds: a source of personal support AND a shortcut to your biggest goals.
Who’s got your back?
As you plot out your path to happiness, I would encourage you to work just as hard to find a good person you can rely on for support, encouragement, and advice as you do to figure out the actual steps you need to take.
All it takes is one person to make a huge difference in your success.
On that note, I’ve been kicking around an idea for a little while now and I’d like to get your input.
There are a LOT of amazing people in this community now, and while I’ve been lucky enough to talk to a lot of you, the truth is that it’s gotten way too big for me to effectively provide one-on-one support to everyone.
But what I COULD do is help you form small mastermind groups with each other where you can share your biggest goals, talk through your biggest struggles, and help each other along the way.
This is the kind of thing that’s been instrumental for me in several areas of my life and I would love to help you get the same kind of support.
If that sounds like it might be helpful, please click the link below to fill out a short survey that will help me match you up into groups. If I get enough interest, hopefully we can get the ball rolling on this soon!