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Health, Wealth, & The Pursuit of Happiness

Health, Wealth, & The Pursuit of Happiness

| February 29, 2024

Your money and your health may be two of the most correlated things in life. There is plenty of data and research out there that shows how poor financial situations often lead to poor physical and mental wellbeing. Check out this article from business news daily, or this one from health.com, or even this one from the US Department of Veteran Affairs.

Right now with the cost of living up, people are feeling the pressures of financial constraint more so than the last 5-10 years. Financing costs are going up (read: interest rates), food prices are increasing (read: inflation), and while some of my clients have seen their incomes increase significantly over the last few years, even they have still felt the tightening of their cash flows on a monthly basis.

So we can sit here and complain, or we can do something about it.

If you're the type to complain, you probably want to stop reading here. What I'm about to say next may possibly offend you and I'm not in the business of intentionally offending people.

Complainers never prosper.

Seriously. Think about the most successful people in your life. How many of them sit around and complain about things?

Probably not many, if any. Why?

Well first, that's not good for their mental health. I'm not a doctor, so I'll leave the analysis to the health professionals. With that being said, I have at times found myself wanting to complain over certain situations, and I have also found my self at times wanting to act in other situations. And as a point of reflection, personally, I have gotten much further in life and found much more peace, prosperity, and happiness when I have decided to act. 

Second, it's also not good for their wallet. Because if you complain, you're not really doing anything about it. Does complaining actually improve your life? You're just trying to find other people that will listen to you complain, and successful people don't have time to sit around and listen to people complain (unless, maybe, it's an employee that has something constructive to bring to the table and discuss). 

Running and Saving

Personally, I hate running. I don't find it fun. I don't like being out of breath. But I do it anyways. There's a ton of benefits to running, and some are described in this article, like improving the efficiency of your heart and lowering blood pressure levels. After you go for a run, you may not even notice a difference. There's not always an immediate gratification after you're done. You don't go run 3 miles and all of a sudden you lose 10 pounds. It's a process. It takes time and it takes delayed gratification.

Saving money is like running. You know you should do it. You know the benefits outweigh the temporary pain. But it's a lot easier to stay at home and relax. It's a lot easier to browse the Amazon deal of the day, than to put an extra $1,000 in your savings account. If you save $1,000 extra this month, that doesn't all of a sudden grow to become $1 million. It's something you have to do consistently, and the worst thing about it, it takes time. You're not going to get immediate gratification by saving a little bit of extra money today. It takes time and delayed gratification for that money to build up and become a significant amount that you can feel proud about.

Stretching and Protecting

When I exercise on my own, I usually never stretch beforehand. It's terrible, I know. Maybe I'll throw a quick toe touch in so people in the gym think I know what I'm doing, but I'm not at the gym to stretch, I'm there to lift weights! Until your hamstring gives out on the squat rack and the bar comes crashing down and everyone is staring. The reason you stretch is to loosen up your muscles and to keep them flexible, otherwise, when you start to put your muscles under stress, they are weak and unable to extend. That's when things get pulled and then you have to stay out of the gym for a few weeks until things heal. The whole point of stretching is to protect your body and your longevity. If you're not able to work out, then it's hard to continue to progress to hit your goals.

Insurance and legal documents are the stretching exercises you know you should do, but don't want to do, at the gym. Having the right amount of insurance, or the right structure of your legal documents, allows your financial plan to bend under periods of strain, but not break. Your insurance plans should be intentional, it shouldn't be something you just check the box to and move on. These are strategies that protect your income, your livelihood, and your financial trajectory. Those are all really important aspects to living a stress free financial life. Once you have those completed properly, it becomes a very freeing feeling.

Dieting and Wealth Building

Oh man, this is the fun one. "Everyone loves diets", said no one ever. If it were me, I'd eat peanut butter waffles with an occasional cinnamon roll for every meal. Weird? Maybe. Tasty? Absolutely. Healthy? No way. Dieting is not fun, and I know because my wife and I often go through phases throughout the year on the Mediterranean Diet. Shocker - no cinnamon rolls on the Mediterranean Diet. Your diet seems to be the one factor that has the biggest, or fastest, impact on your overall physical health. It's how wrestlers, boxers, and fighters make weigh-ins and then gain 20 pounds a day later. There is a lot of volatility, or change, that may occur depending on your diet, and sometimes it happens very quickly. However, usually after the first initial shock, it can feel like a rollercoaster ride of different swings, or different emotions, as your body is going through a lot of change.

Wealth building is very much like dieting. There's the initial shock factor - sometimes good, when an investment pays off quick, but also sometimes bad when it goes the other way. Both happen on the wealth building journey. It involves taking risks, and managing volatility, over time. You have to separate out your emotions from the price movement of your assets. Just like if you've been dieting for a week, and you look at yourself in the mirror, you may not notice a huge difference, or maybe you do. Whatever that emotion is will dictate what your next step is. But you're focusing on the wrong thing. Dieting is a long-term process. So is building wealth. If you're focused on the short-term fluctuations of your assets, or short-term returns, you miss the big picture. Just like if you focus on the person in the mirror after a week or two of dieting. That's not the point of what you are doing. It's the person you want to be years down the road. It's the balance sheet you want to build for your family's future.

Putting the Pieces Together

If you do one of these, but not the others in conjunction with it, you may make gradual improvements, however it's going to be hard to stay on track long-term. You have to stay on track with all three consistently over time in order to succeed. A study was done by the National institutes of Health that measured the effectiveness of working with a personal trainer and moving towards "exercise adoption". Of the 5 stages that someone could be in 99% of participants either maintained their current stage or improved at least one stage. By hiring a personal trainer, almost 100% of people improved towards their fitness goals.

This is the importance of having a coach in our life. Our odds of success increase. Sometimes in life the coach shares new ideas we weren't aware of, and other times they are there to hold us accountable to the things we know we should do, but don't want to. A coach keeps us on track and heading in the right direction towards our goals. Every elite athlete had a coach around them, because they were a separate set of eyes that could step away from the emotion of a situation. They can bring a different perspective to help that athlete get to the next level.

You have the potential to be elite, so let's either get there, or do everything we can to stay there. Book a meeting on my calendar here if you want to chat about what it looks like to have a financial coach in your life. No strings attached, just an open conversation to see where we go from here.