For many people working through the stages of financial planning, our goals come under review quite often. Are they specific, measurable, achievable and so forth? Are they going to get us where we want to be in a year? Five years? Do the numbers add up? It can be a big source of work, and an equally significant source of stress.
Amid all this goal-setting, there’s a question that many finance-savvy people often forget to ask themselves: “am I content?”
Being content with what your situation, the things you already own, and the career you already have, is an amazing skill to practice, but it is advisable not to confuse contentment with complacency: it’s like saying that I’m happy sitting on my couch, so I’ll never need to exercise or eat healthy. Learning to be content takes work, too, but it’s just as important as lining up your financial goals. Pursuing a path to financial health should not simply be done for the sake of creating contentment. Even paying off your debt, while a tremendous life goal, is but one way to feel contentment. Don’t expect that the same feeling will suddenly come over you the moment you’ve achieved greater financial control. Just remember that you shouldn’t wait to be content until all of your financial goals are met – each step along the way can be a source of inspiration and happiness.
Improving your overall contentment through day to day activities, organizational practices and self-reflection can actually help with your personal finance situation too. Being less stressed will make it more likely that you’ll be willing to sit down with your financial plan and develop it realistically, and not based on the pressures and deadlines that may otherwise be part of your life.
You know who’s basically content 24/7? My cat. His concerns in life boil down to whether there’s food somewhere nearby, whether he can tear up my couch when he wants, and otherwise that’s basically it. Cats, in retrospect, make terrible financial advisors – always focused on the now. But when I’m feeling stressed out, wondering whether all my plans are going to work, balancing too many plates, I can look over at him and remember the value of contentment.