Retirement

What Does Your Peace Of Mind Look Like? Finding Financial Tranquility In A Volatile World

If you did a scan of financial advisory websites, you’d find a lot of similarities. Lots of photos of happy people in the active phase of their emerging retirement, most of whom have the same three hobbies: golf, sailing, and long walks on the beach. As for the words and phrases, I’d bet that some version of “sleep at night” or “peace of mind” is ever-present on these websites, too.

Indeed, peace of mind is one of (if not) the greatest benefits to be derived from wise wealth management. Yet, much in the same way that there are a lot more than three hobbies in the recently retired affluent set, peace of mind is not a singular state of being. Peace of mind looks different from one person to the next, and we must not presume what will bring it—and what will take from it—in financial planning.

So, what does your peace of mind look like?

If it’s endless golf, sailing, or long walks on the beach, that’s great! But I think we could agree that peace of mind is less something we do, and more a state of being. While some may find their happy place on a par four in Augusta, others (myself included) may reach the height of their agitation at the tee box, or in the rough rough, or fishing a tiny dimpled ball out of the bottom of a pond.

Let’s consider for a moment a fourfold framework that can help us identify what brings us peace of mind at any phase of life and with any level of net worth, and the associated dangers with each of these individual orientations:

Grow

Growth-oriented people may find comfort, however ironically, in pursuing higher highs, believing that growth solves all. If you’re a Grow person, you likely spend more resources than most today in recognition that you can make more tomorrow. Yet, you may also have a future orientation—always thinking about the next success, sometimes even before your current project is complete. You likely prefer taking on the greater risks often required for higher gains, and you may be a minimalist when it comes to insurance. Yes, peace of mind to a Grow person may look more like activity than tranquility.

One of the dangers of those with a growth orientation is that they tend to connect their self-worth to their net worth, viewing their “number” as in competition with, well, everyone else. And because there is always someone who has experienced more success, this can lead to perpetual dissatisfaction for the growth-minded.

Protect

The most risk-averse will find greater comfort in life when they feel optimally protected from financial discomfort. If you’re a Protect person, you will typically desire a higher level of cash on hand to fend off emergencies and fund surprises. You likely lean toward a less volatile portfolio structure and focus intently on ensuring insurable risks are well covered. You may even prefer a more predictable career with a steady paycheck from a stable company or institution. Simply put, Protect people find peace of mind in the size of the moat, to steal Warren Buffet’s analogy, around their castle.

The danger protectors face is that they may live in fear of the unknown and, worse yet, the unknowable, spending too much of their money and mind space on protective measures.

Give

Our preference for self-preservation is less evident in those who have a giving or serving orientation. Acts of service don’t drain these folks, nor are they fearful that their generosity could put them at risk financially, personifying the Scriptural belief articulated by Jesus, “Give and it will be given to you…For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38 NIV) Faithful givers, somewhat paradoxically, feel safer when they are sharing their financial resources with others. That’s where they derive peace of mind.

The pothole I find givers stumbling over is that they may feel guilty about their own financial success with such evident unmet worldwide needs. In the most challenging cases, givers may even subconsciously sabotage themselves financially.

Live

If growers find peace of mind in pursuit of a future ideal, protectors feel safer knowing they are buffered from the unexpected, and givers find greater contentment in the service of others than themselves, those with a Live orientation are especially focused on the present moment. They find peace of mind in knowing that their income is secured sufficiently so that they can live today as they choose, prioritizing flexibility and spontaneity in their lives.

As you might guess, an over-correction with a present orientation can lead to an unwillingness to learn from the lessons of the past and willful blindness that, while not promised, the future is quite likely to come.

So, as you read these four peace-of-mind postures, where do you find yourself gravitating? Is there one of the four where you identify most closely?

Please recognize that I’m not suggesting we each fit neatly into one of these boxes. Most of us will exhibit traits from all four; therefore, it may be helpful to order from most likely to least to understand yourself better. For example, I’m likely a Grow-Live-Give-Protect-person, but I can identify with traits from each.

Personally, I find that adequately planning in each of these categories brings me, and the clients I’ve been privileged to work with, the most peace of mind. For further reading on how to do that, here is A Simple Framework For Activating Your Wealth. Because in the end, true wealth isn’t a number. I believe true wealth is peace of mind, so that you can pursue the things in life that are most important to you.

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