In our highly developed country, and in other industrialized “first-world” nations, we are all usually taught about bank accounts, about saving money, and about the kinds of work we can do in order to gather enough money so that we can save it. The goal is to have security, a certain kind of lifestyle, and probably ultimately retirement.
Is there anything wrong with that focus? Maybe there is — it does not include development of other vitally important aspects of life. The financial security and lifestyle approach is sorely lacking as a representation of what creates a meaningful life.
If we follow this limited vision, we are likely to suffer unnecessarily later on, because we have not developed in other areas that are inherently important to our lives as human beings. In the end, when we add it all up, don’t we all want to live a life that really matters? If I may say so, when we think about it the answer is clearly, “Yes!”
So I invite you to think about “bank” accounts in an extended model — an extended model which will lead to success and fulfillment. As we all know, bank accounts can grow, stay the same, or diminish, and possibly even go to total depletion. In order for us to achieve a life that matters, it will require us to consider more than our literal bank accounts.
Seen in this way, the reality is that we also have physical health accounts, mental health accounts, and societal/relational accounts, in addition to the literal bank accounts. Is it possible that we are forgetting some of the other accounts while we focus on the bank account?
Most individuals have not been taught (unless they are very lucky) to think of all these accounts with the same clarity that is devoted to the bank account. But if we are not attuned to and attentive to our various other accounts, they can go to zero or even negative values faster than we can imagine.
How often does an event in an individual’s life throw all of his or her plans into disarray? This can be economic loss, loss of a loving relationship, or other serious life events. Are we prepared to deal with the ups and the downs of life with stability and gratitude, even though some situations can be challenging?
If we pay attention to all of our accounts with some wisdom, we develop real wealth in all these important aspects of our lives.
We know how to measure what is in a bank account. Then, how do we know the state of our other accounts?
In a few words, if we have progress and passion in our lives, that indicates healthy accounts; if we feel stuck, angry, or lacking in energy, that points to an imbalance, or lack, in one or more of the other accounts.
In my talk on Tuesday at the Long Island Owners Forum, run by the New York Chapter of Exit Planning Institute, I discussed this issue in greater detail. There are experiential exercises and other growth work that can help each person connect values to their actions, on a personal and daily activity level. When that connection takes place for a person, all the accounts start growing. It is as reliable as planting a garden and making sure there is the right amount of water and nourishment as appropriate to each particular plant you are growing. When that is done, your garden will grow.
When you pay attention properly to all of your accounts, instead of only to or primarily to your bank account, your life gains meaning and you start living richly. Throughout your life, you can continue to grow as a person, becoming more helpful to others and finding more purpose and fulfillment. Isn’t that a goal worth pursuing?