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True Wealth

True Wealth

| September 07, 2020

In January of 2019, I wrote about my goal to ride self-supported from Denver to Durango on the rugged Colorado Trail (CT) with my brother, Tom, and how I intended to prepare for this monumental challenge. The 545-mile high-altitude mountain bike ride was very challenging both physically and mentally, and we finished in two weeks. I learned a lot and was really proud of myself to be able to complete such a daunting trail as my first backpacking trip.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in many ways since our CT ride and it is easy to call to mind all the negative effects of COVID—the illnesses and tragic deaths, job losses, social isolation and severe limitations on gatherings and travel. Family vacations, graduations, weddings and sporting events have been cancelled, postponed or greatly restricted. But something really interesting has happened too. These restrictions have created a lot more free time and even financial margin in the lives of those who are able to earn their living by working from home. No more time-consuming and energy-sapping business trips and for many, no more expensive and frustrating commutes to work. Life has slowed down in ways that provide new opportunities. People are enjoying simpler (and cheaper) entertainment options such as bicycling, hiking, camping and taking RV trips.

Many people are now focusing on priorities that had been long overlooked. With people spending so much more time at home, contractors are busy with landscaping, new decks, additions, painting and other home improvement projects. I have heard from other financial advisors that they are also very busy working with new clients who find themselves with the time to finally get financially organized and plan for their futures. Some clients are learning that they have the financial means to retire earlier than they assumed, or transitioning to work that is perhaps less financially lucrative but is more aligned with their values and desires. Others are now questioning the sacrifices they had accepted by putting so much focus on earning and spending, leaving little time and resources to grow the other important dimensions of wealth.

My brother, Tom, and I decided to ride the Colorado Trail again in 2020 and we started on August 15 along with our friend, Scott, from Salmon, Idaho. Things were going great until I started breaking spokes on my rear wheel on the second day. I had my wheel repaired in Breckenridge and then again in
Buena Vista, but shortly after starting the second half of the CT, my rim started cracking at the spoke holes and was beyond repair. My ride with Tom and Scott was over.

I was very disappointed to miss finishing together but remained committed to completing the CT, and after replacing my wheels, I started again, solo, on September 5. I feel very grateful that I have the ability to reschedule this week of riding on short notice, but this flexibility was very intentionally designed into my new life after leaving the corporate world in 2007. I am committed to this annual cycling sabbatical, which provides the right environment for reflecting deeply on the events of the past year and calibrating my vision for the future as I ride (and push) across the roof of the Rocky Mountains. It is also an ideal time to think about how to do better for my family and my clients, and I get great ideas listening to podcasts from other financial advisors.

I listened to several podcasts about the meaning of money and what it means to be truly “wealthy,” which goes far beyond money and possessions. I heard many different proposed
non-monetary dimensions of wealth and here were the ones that really caught my attention:
- Physical - how your body looks, feels and functions. Do you have the level of physical health to fully enjoy the other dimensions of your wealth?
- Fun - how much daily joy are you experiencing in your life?
- Family - is your family thriving?
- Environmental - do you feel a sense of peace and alignment where you currently live?
- Impact - what is the degree of positive difference you are making in your community or with the world at large?

Other dimensions of wealth mentioned were Emotional, Social, Spiritual, Intellectual, Experiential and Career.

I firmly believe that providing excellent financial planning and investment management in order to create financial margin is critical and foundational to achieving True Wealth, but it is not sufficient. This financial margin must also be directed to fuel growth in the other critical dimensions of wealth.

I had the honor of hearing pastor Rick Warren at a conference back in 2013, and he relayed an experience he had talking with Bill Gates, who was the richest man on earth at that time. Bill told Rick that he likes to spend money to save time, which is brilliant since we all have the same 168 hours per week to use. You can always make more money, but you can’t make more time. Many people value experiences and use money to build their experiential, social and family wealth. I feel very good about spending money to save time and on facilitating experiences, especially ones that can be shared with the people I care most about. I also spend guilt-free on acquiring knowledge and on having fun with my family and friends.

Can We Help You? The first important step in mastering your money is to be very intentional about where you direct it, rather than wondering afterward where it went. Of course, we can help with this, but we can also work with you to clarify your vision of living your own best life and how to use your financial resources to build True Wealth, which looks a little different to all of us.

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