We’ve heard of putting our money where our mouth is, but how do we put it where our heart is? Is such a thing possible? Can we use money to better fulfill our personal purpose?
With focused work, yes, we can use money to fulfill our purpose. Cultivate a balanced financial perspective and put your money to work for you, by adopting this mindset.
1. Accept that money is a tool, and you need it.
That’s all money is—a globally recognized tool that can be exchanged for things you need or perhaps want. While en vogue to pretend like money does not matter, it does. Money can’t buy health, but it can buy medical supplies; money cannot buy happiness, but it can buy an outing for your child or food for a pet, which is perhaps the closest we come to paradise on earth. Money cannot buy love, but it can be used to fund your favorite charities, creating more love in this world. Accept that you do need money. You do not, however, have to become consumed by that need.
2. Realize that tools are meant to be used.
There is a line between preparing for the future and living in the present; it is particularly challenging to walk this line when dealing with finances. While it would be irresponsible and immature to go into debt for trivial comforts, we amass wealth so that we might one day buy houses, send kids to college, take pleasant vacations, or pursue expensive hobbies like photography or sailing. When the time comes to spend money on those things, and you have the money, spend it! Spend it with joy and completely without regret—that is what money is for. When you end up spending large sums on things you did not plan for, such as a new car when yours breaks down, braces for a child, or a new stove, spend it with joy and completely without regret—again, that is what money is for.
3. Leverage your assets to increase your own happiness.
What makes you happy? Is it a particular hobby, charity work, trips to a meaningful location? Whatever it is, it likely requires gas to get there, equipment, or perhaps childcare or a day off of work without pay to actually pursue these activities. When do you feel best? Is it when you work out regularly at that gym you like, when you get a massage, when you shop at organic food stores? Nearly everything requires some sort of financial output. Spend your money on what makes you feel and live your healthiest and happiest.
4. But first, leverage your assets to discover what makes you happy.
Not entirely sure what your purpose is, or what makes you happy? Start saving up to take a class, join a hobby club or association, donate your time as a volunteer, or fund a trip. Pack a journal (purchased with—you guessed it—money!), and take note of when you feel the most relaxed, smile the most, and are at your personal best. Not feeling it yet? Save more money, try something else. Or, treat a trusted mentor to a nice dinner and ask for their advice. Eventually, you will find a place where you fit and an activity that invigorates you.
5. Politely ignore others.
While others can contribute to your happiness, they cannot make you happy. Likewise, while others may be able to help shed light on your purpose, and share their wisdom about how you might most effectively use money to fulfill your purpose, it is your money and your purpose. Be bold when you need to be.
Struggling to identify and articulate your purpose? Check out these 5 Steps to Find Out Your Life Purpose.