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Mark Zaifman's thoughts on money, global economic trends and politics

The Journey of Financial Independence Begins With a Single Step

Mark Zaifman   |    Thu, Mar 15, 2012 @ 05:10 PM

Your Money or Your Life financial planner

For any person on the journey to financial independence (FI), one of the most daunting tasks to contemplate, as well as figure out, is how much is enough? 

How Much is Enough & The Nature of Fulfillment

Taken on face value, you would think this is relatively easy to answer.  Yet attempt to answer this question when the amount you’ve decided on determines how much longer you will be trading your precious life energy for money, and suddenly you begin to realize that this will be one of the most serious financial life decisions you’ll ever be asked to make.

But it’s this end point to reach FI, or put another way, your enough point, that often trips people up. That’s because for most of us, this is a question we’ve spent very little time reflecting on. We all live busy lives, we do the best we can in terms of spending and savings and at the end of the day, we hope to have enough money saved up to reach FI.

Your Money or Your Life-Chapter 4

For those loyal fans of the seminal book, Your Money or Your Life, you’ll recognize ‘How Much is Enough & The Nature of Fulfillment’ as the title of Chapter 4 of the book. Other than Chapter 9, (which yours truly had the honor and privilege to update in 2008) I believe this is one of the most important sections of the book. Knowing your enough point is freedom and that freedom is a liberating feeling. Below are some excerpts from Chapter 4:

“Being fulfilled is having just enough. Think about it. Whether it’s food or money or things, if you don’t know, from an internal standard, what is enough, then you will pass directly from “not enough” to “too much” with “enough” being like a little whistle stop town. You blink and you’ve missed it. You will rarely have an experience of fulfillment.”

This is such a simple concept and yet so difficult to grasp.  The book goes on:

“The primary tool for developing this internal yardstick is awareness. The affluence that surrounds us has been called the American Dream, and with good reason: we’ve been asleep. We wake up by questioning the dream. Asking yourself, month in, month out, whether you actually got fulfillment in proportion to life energy spent in each category of life awakens that natural sense of knowing when enough is enough.”

Becoming aware and beginning to ask the right questions will always bring us closer to clarity and understanding.  Author Vicki Robin continues:

“Financial independence is built on Financial Integrity, and Financial Integrity is built on alignment of vision and values with action. As shocking as it may be to see your unconscious spending patterns materialize as neatly totaled columns of dollars and cents, this exacting honesty is essential. People pay thousands of dollars for therapy, workshops and seminars in order to confront their self-defeating patterns of thinking and acting. This step (above) allows you to accomplish that same goal, at no cost and in the privacy of your own home. When you can go through this entire process of tabulation and evaluation with a totally peaceful mind and heart, you will have earned your black belt in Financial Integrity."

And Robin wraps it up with...

"Enough is a powerful and free place. A confident and flexible place. And it’s a place that you will define for yourself numerically as you follow the Your Money or Your Life program.”

Holistic financial planning at its core is about your money and your life. It’s a process of self-discovery that explores your conscious as well as unconscious assumptions around money. It’s not about earning an extra 1 percent return in your investments. It’s not about all the technical stuff. It’s about the whole person and what they want out of life.

There’s never a bad time to begin the journey of transforming your relationship with money and achieving financial independence. As it’s been famously said many times; A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.  

I’m ready when you are.

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