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Getting the balance right in life

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Thursday November 21, 2013 at 10:00am

I do a lot of professional development, normally around technical financial matters but one recent talk really got me thinking. I have written many blogs on how life is not a dress rehearsal; we only have around 70 or 80 years if we are the lucky ones. Precious time is passing us by.

Ask yourself how well you score in the following areas of your life and decide which parts of your life you may like to work on first.

The idea is you score yourself from 1 to 5 on each of these life goals:

  1. Financial wellbeing. You might expect this to be my number 1; it’s what I advise on after all and it’s normally what will allow you to fund and enjoy the balance in your life. But financial wellbeing is not just about having enough money, or being careful with what you have it is about understanding ‘how much is enough’ or as I’ve written about before ‘What’s your number?’ There is a lot of academic research showing the marginal utility of each pound you earn. The research shows overwhelmingly that if you have sufficient income to fund your lifestyle then each additional pound you earn is extremely valuable to you. Interestingly once you have sufficient income to fund lifestyle the perceived marginal value of every pound you earn drops dramatically. So if you have too much either give it away or expand your lifestyle.
  2. Personal Goals, Objectives and Hobbies. Yes, for all those workaholics reading this there is more to life than work. Having personal goals is probably more important than financial goals. Often we get so bogged down worrying about money we forget about ourselves.
  3. Family Life. Some people are lucky and they have a good one, others aren’t so lucky and they don’t. Either way it still needs working on so score it.
  4. Social Life. This one’s a bit like family life but life outside the family is important too. To have a good social life means investing time and energy into friends.
  5. Personal relationships. Yes we are probably talking about Lurve here. There is a good TED talk on romantic love by academic Helen Fisher (The brain in love). Helen has spent 30 years researching the topic so she has a few interesting takes on the topic. As George Bernard Shaw put it, “Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one person and everyone else.” It is a big driver and so go on and rank it in your life.
  6. Physical wellbeing. Have you ever noticed how doing exercise gives you more energy and vitality for life? Instead of making you feel tired it gives you much more energy. Again an easy one to overlook but vital for a happy life.
  7. Spiritual wellbeing. This one can be quite difficult to put your finger on but we all possess it in some form or other. As Oprah Winfrey says, “It isn't until you come to a spiritual understanding of who you are - not necessarily a religious feeling, but deep down, the spirit within - that you can begin to take control”.
  8. Mental stimulation. You are probably not going to get this from watching Coronation Street but we are going to get bored out of our brains without it.
  9. Work Life. I put this last as it is so easy to think life revolves around work to the exclusion of everything else. But work is important and if you are unhappy or unfulfilled at work it can have a significant impact on many of the other factors.

So if you want to get your life in balance talk to us about finding your number, taking real control over what you do with your life and having a plan to get it.

Andy Parker
Chartered Financial Planner, Birmingham

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