MONEY matters

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

Quality of Life vs. Standard of Living, the Dilemma Continues

Mark Zaifman   |    Fri, Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:01 PM

live simply

Here in the wealthy enclave of the San Francisco Bay Area, it seems and feels like ground zero for the everlasting internal debate between quality of life vs. standard of living.

Not a week goes by where I’m not talking with a potential client about their burning desire to live more simply. Most are boomers that have been in the corporate world or in business for themselves and want out - while they’re still in their prime years.

Many have squelched their dreams and desires for so long that they’re very often scared to let themselves fully dream of a day when they are doing what they love and loving what they do. Yet fortunately for me, they’re willing to open up and share their dreams and deep desires of living a life with intention and purpose and filled with passion.

And this is where the fun begins. It’s about dwelling in possibilities. It’s using your intuition and imagination as your source of guidance while mapping out a financial road map that merges your money with your life. It’s applying the basic theme of holistic financial planning which is that money makes a poor master but a wonderful servant.

To reinvent yourself, to voluntarily leave a well paying corporate gig, to sell your business or practice and put your full attention and intention to something brand new that makes you feel young, vibrant and alive again - to do this takes courage, persistence, faith, resilience, self-confidence, and a holistic financial planner who will design a financial life plan that inspires you and ignites your passions.

Financial Success vs. Life Success

How many of us grew up believing that when it came to work and earning money, we had two choices in life. We could choose financial success or we could choose life success, but you couldn’t have both.

And when it came to setting goals, enjoying life as your number one goal was looked upon as too esoteric and lacking ambition, whereas setting a goal to be a millionaire by the age of 30, regardless of how happy or unhappy your life is when reaching that goal was seen as ambitious and worthwhile.

Fortunately we’re now seeing a trend towards living a more balanced life. We’re also seeing the phrase financial success redefined like never before. What we considered financial success in our twenties is way different than how we define financial success in our fifties.

And it’s the attempt to live a balanced life where the tension between quality of life and standard of living comes sharply into focus. For its one thing to proclaim your desire for living a more balanced and simpler life, but it’s an entirely different thing to actually give up many of the comforts and pleasures that accrue to someone with a high standard of living.

And therein lies the challenge of getting from where you are today, perhaps living large and dealing with high levels of stress and anxiety to the desire/dream/fantasy of living simply. To think you can make this leap of faith overnight or even over a few months is to set yourself up for failure. Time is your friend when thinking about this change. Laying the groundwork for the move, preparing yourself emotionally and spiritually takes time as does doing the proper due diligence and the appropriate strategic financial planning, if you want this lifestyle transition to be a success.

More Things or More Life

Like with any major endeavor worth pursuing in life, quiet time, meditation, seeking guidance from above - these tools and more need to factor into the equation when contemplating a major life change. Yet the most vital ingredient for a successful transition to a life of voluntary simplicity is a burning desire for change.

That’s because many forces will come together to conspire against your desire for change. Peers, colleagues, friends, family members, anyone on the fast track of life that secretly dreams of doing what you’re contemplating, but knows there’s strength in numbers, will do everything in their power to persuade you that you just need some time off, that a nice vacation will do you right and set you straight.

Then there will be your ego putting up the strongest resistance of all. For being on the fast track of life comes with many perks you will not avail yourself to when choosing the road less traveled. For most of the time a simpler life means fewer material things and that will not please your ego one bit. Yet with this lifestyle choice comes less stress, less worry, less anxiety and less unhappiness.

On the flipside, what you’ll potentially receive when choosing to put your life first and your money second is more joy, more inspiration, more fulfillment and more happiness.

Is it easy to make this major life move when you’ve worked so hard to achieve the level of financial success you’re rightly proud of? Absolutely not. But when you ask yourself the eternal question from Thoreau: Are you leading a life of quiet desperation?, and you answer honestly with a yes, than what do you have to lose?


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