When we think of the concept of good stewardship, many of us tie it to our faith, whatever our belief system may be. We come to believe that our money and possessions aren’t really ours. Rather it is all God’s, or it is all part of the greater ethos of the universe, or whatever your beliefs might dictate. We are taught that our role is to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us for the benefit of others. We are to consider those who will come after us, as we care for and use what we have been provided with.
Most individuals and families believe that stewardship begins with making sure they will grow and protect their wealth so it lasts for their lifetime and enables them to help their children and grandchildren. Some of us also understand a responsibility to be stewards for the needs of our community and the causes we believe in. But few people think deeply enough about this to make effective and strategic decisions about whether they’re doing all that they can for what they really care about most. Many of us get so caught up in life’s frenetic pace that our purpose unwittingly becomes “more” and “me” – mere accumulation, more material possessions, money for the sake of money.
We suddenly can find ourselves in a place of disillusionment, feeling confused or lost. Some call this a mid-life crisis; others identify it as depression. We may find ourselves missing the answers to these questions: “What is it really all about? What’s my life purpose? What on earth am I here for?
How does this happen to us? We find ourselves rising early, managing the complexities of our lives on so many levels and ending too many of our days exhausted and, at times, overwhelmed. We seem to have little time just to stop, reflect, look up, look in, and listen.
Instead, we go through the motions – flip on the television, computer, phone, or tablet, for just a little while. As we do, we choose to ingest another constant parade of material offerings, allegedly newsworthy and relevant information – all topics supposedly important for “me and my life.”
If we’re really honest, most of this “consumption” leaves us with a vague undercurrent or emotion of fear and uncertainty – a general sense of angst and worry. And who could blame us? Especially after drops and uncertainty in the financial markets, political extremes reducing the effectiveness of the U.S. government, signs of global warming, the proliferation of terrorism, continued conflict around the world – and the beat goes on. As a result, most of us tend to pull back and draw inward. We revert to stockpiling mode, just in case. It sure seems as if the sky might be falling anytime now, doesn’t it? We honestly don’t feel safe. We’re concerned there won’t be enough.
In our practices this really is the case, even among our “wealthiest” clients. Some recall a childhood in the Depression, or have heard the stories of struggle, and they still fear that all they have could be gone tomorrow. Surveys have found that people with a net worth of $1 million to $10 million consider themselves middle class, not wealthy – they would need perhaps $50 million to feel that affluent. Those with $50 million would need $100 million to call themselves wealthy. And so on. You could say perceptions of wealth are a relative concept.
Here is the most important point to derive from this assessment:
Most of us have lost a sense of clarity and confidence about our financial independence, what we really care about, and what we’d like to begin doing differently. Besides simply building more wealth and savings, how do we change our often-false perceptions about our wealth and financial freedom? -Excerpt from You Can Do More That Matters, Chapter 1
Download a chapter of the book at www.domorethatmatters.com
Ron Ware, J.D. and Greg Hammond, CFP®, CPA are wealth impact strategists and personal legacy advisors who help individuals, families, and business owners enhance their financial standing while discovering a greater capacity to provide for their loved ones and support cherished charities. Contact Ron or Greg.