September 30, 2014

What Mark Twain Might Say

Credit: tungphoto
You might think that a vast majority of my job as a financial planner would involve number-crunching, graph-making, and technical reading. My job does encompass some of those activities, but I have found that the majority of my time is actually spent counseling people. Sure, many of my conversations with clients involve talking people through the financial pros and cons of things such as moving, starting a family, or retiring, but a lot of my counsel and advice sometimes borders on being more personal. With that in mind, I’d like to share some thoughts based on tough conversations I’ve had recently with some people about their jobs.

I read recently that the average workweek in America has crept close to 50 hours a week, or 2,400 hours per year. Many of my clients seem to affirm that statistic, and sadly, make me wonder if that statistic might be a little understated. Either way, 50+ hours a week means that outside of sleeping, eating, commuting, and football, there’s not a lot of time left for anything else. I imagine I could write a couple of books on how your job can interfere with your family, friends, health, and faith if you’re not careful, but I’m just a humble blogger. So to summarize, let me just say that legendary adventurer and intellectual, Mark Twain, provided one of my favorite quotes as I went through school: “Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.” I bet he’d offer something similar in regards to work and life. I might even speculate that he would have said something along the lines of: “Don’t let work interfere with your life.”

“There is a limit to how much I’m willing to work no matter how much they pay.”

“If I quit working, I’ll have to spend time with my wife.”

 “Since I’ve retired, I thought I would have heard from my former co-workers more.”

“The way I’ve worked, there’s no way I’ll make it past 80.”

“I have to sleep on Sundays, or else I’ll never make it.”

Unfortunately, those are all quotes I’ve heard from various acquaintances, clients, and friends over the past few weeks, and frankly, it makes me very sad. My parents raised me to give 100% towards everything I do, and I’ve made that mantra part of my core personality, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve also learned there is an important caveat to always giving all that you possibly can. I believe there is only so much one person can give, and I know you only live for so long, so if you’re giving too much to your career, chances are you’re not giving enough to another area of your life, whether that be your own happiness, your own health, your family, your friends, or your faith.

Just as I would never have the audacity to pressure someone about what they should do with their money, I would never tell someone how they should live their life. One of the differences between being a trusted financial advisor and a broker is that a trusted financial advisor is supposed to be more interested in your overall well-being than just your money. In short, I believe it is my duty to do what is best for clients, and as you might expect, what is best for someone personally and what is best for someone financially isn’t always the same thing. I don’t take lightly the opportunity to help people talk through what’s going on in their personal lives and to help them consider the current and future financial impact of any decisions they’re thinking about making. Seeing people go to less financially lucrative jobs that give them weekends, seeing people take that family vacation they kept putting off, and seeing people change careers to something they actually find enjoyable and meaningful makes me happy. In my opinion, you need to put food on your table and a roof over your head, but life is too short to let work ruin your life. 

As I’ve said before, I love math, numbers, history, and trying to keep up with all that’s going on in our crazy little world, but I do what I do so that I can help people. If today’s post speaks to you, I hope you’ll give it some serious thought. If you need a neutral party to listen or to help you think things through financially, or even personally, please know I’m here for you.


1 comment:

  1. Great post! As I used to say when I was still working, your plate is only so will eventually overflow. You can't do it all!