May I have the courage today
To live the life that I would love,
To postpone my dream no longer
But do at last what I came here for
And waste my heart on fear no more.
From “A Morning Offering,” by John O’Donohue
When Chris Borland retired over concussion concerns after his first NFL season in which he made the All-Rookie team, many praised him for walking away from a potentially lucrative football career to protect himself from injuries that may never occur. It really is not possible to judge complex decisions like this — we can’t know his financial situation, his love of the game, his health status, his other interests, or many other factors that may have led to his early retirement. He himself may not even fully understand his reasoning. But Borland’s choice and John O’Donohue’s poem may relate to an issue that I see all the time with our clients.
Why are our choices rarely integrated with our lives? One of our clients was asked to serve on a corporate board. Those positions don’t often come around. They can be interesting, lucrative and prestigious. And she turned it down. She felt that doing this would have been in conflict with some current choices that she had made regarding time she wanted to spend away from work. She realized her dream right now was personal, not positional.
Our goals are often created in our heads and are usually about a particular type of progress. More is better, most is best. But connecting to “what we came here for” is about purpose. Purpose is personal and internal.
The most important thing that you can do with your money is align its use with your purpose. Most money discussions are about how. But purpose is about why.
One of our clients built a business so successful that he was spending the majority of his time running the business rather than the fulfilling client work that led to his business’s success. His purpose is impacting his clients’ futures, not growing a company. If he wants to pursue this purpose, he needs to change his role in it. By focusing on his why, he can overcome the fears around significant business change.
Is there a why inside of you that needs to emerge? It may be more comfortable to act on the hows, but the whys will ultimately define you.
Spend your life wisely.
Ross Levin is the founding principal of Accredited Investors Inc. in Edina. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.