Since we’re coming off the New Year I thought this would be a great time to talk about setting goals, and specifically why your goals shouldn’t revolve around making money. A lot of people spend their lives either chasing money or at least wishing they had more of it. As an entrepreneur, many of my goals often involved earning a certain amount of money and I think it’s safe to say we all believe some or all of our problems could be solved if we just made more of it. Of course, if we are driven and work hard enough, it’s possible to figure out the game and start to make a lot of money, and that’s where we all start living really great lives right?
Do you think our family friend would give up the millions he’s worth if he could get his deceased 12 year old son back? How many well-adjusted, genuinely happy Hollywood celebrities can you name off the top of your head? When we take time to really think about it, most of us would agree that money isn’t the cure-all for the problems in our lives, so why do we spend so much time trying to get more of it? I think the problem comes when we place money in the wrong category as we structure our lives.
I consider the things around me in one of three categories. First are our NEEDS. These are the things we require to survive. Our needs consist of things like breathing, eating, shelter, basic companionship, and personal health. NEEDS are the things that without, we start to wither and die. If we can achieve these on the basic level, we can assure our survival.
The second category is our WANTS or GOALS. These are the things we want over and above our needs. These can include traveling or going on adventures, personal recognition or achievements, helping others, luxury needs such as eating great food or having a nice house instead of basic shelter, having deeper relationships, etc. These are the things that enrich our lives and give us a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
The final category is our RESOURCES. These are all the things we use to achieve our NEEDS and our WANTS. Resources include oxygen, food, our home, our creativity, our personality, our relationships, our knowledge, personal skills, etc. We use air to provide for our need to breath. We use our house to provide for our need of shelter. We use our relationships to provide for our need of companionship, etc. This is the category money falls into because if we think about things in this way, the only thing we use money for is to provide for our NEEDS or our WANTS. Money is nothing more than a tool that we can use the same way we can use a screwdriver.
You may try to put money in the NEED category but homesteaders can live without money. Tribes in the Amazon live without money. If we majorly restructured the way we lived, we too could survive without using money so it doesn’t belong in the NEED category since there are people on this earth that can survive without it.
The more common mistake so many people make, including myself, is viewing money as a GOAL when we are really using it as a RESOURCE. We spend our lives working to get as rich as we can when really we’re chasing the wrong thing. Some are treating money as the GOAL when what they really want is to spend more time taking their family on vacations. Time with their family is the real GOAL, the money is just the RESOURCE they want to use to achieve it. Some people are chasing money, unaware that they are really looking for recognition and they are just using money as the score card.
When thinking about all the items in our RESOURCE category, we need to understand the only reason we acquire them to meet our NEEDS and GOALS. Once we are able to achieve those, we really don’t need any more of the resources do we? Spending all of your efforts to get as much money as possible is like gathering as much air as you can find just so you can breath more, it doesn’t make sense! If we spend too much of our precious time acquiring RESOURCES we lose the time to do anything with them. Think about the parent that spent all their life working and never had the chance to raise their kids, they spent all their time achieving the wrong thing!
So let’s get money out of our GOALS and put it in the RESOURCES category where it belongs. While having more money can indeed provide for a lot of our NEEDS and help us achieve our GOALS, it’s still just a tool for our use and by itself it’s not actually getting us closer to the things we want our lives to really be about.
Most of our needs and wants can be satisfied with different RESOURCES. We can use money to buy a big house but we could also use our skills to build the house ourselves for half the price! Whatever that GOAL is for you, if you think about it I’d bet you can come up with another way to achieve it. Do you really want to spend more time with your family? You can downsize your expenses and work a lot less hours. Want to travel the world? There are dozens of books that teach you how to do it for a fraction of what you think it will cost.
RESOURCES can also be traded for one another. We trade our RESOURCES of knowledge and skills for money when we go to work. We trade our RESOURCE of money for food, shelter, more education, etc. We can capitalize on our RESOURCES of relationships and personalities to increase our opportunities in business and life. All of these things fall into our RESOURCE category and they can all be traded back and forth with each other, and unlike money, knowledge and skills can be traded over and over again.
So when you are considering your GOALS for the New Year, don’t make the mistake of chasing money. Set your GOALS on the things that are actually important, then set about coming up with the strategy to achieve them. That strategy may very well include earning a certain about of money, but it could just as easy include trading some RESOURCES for others. If you’re always chasing money and think it’s the only way to accomplish your GOALS you may be missing out on a better solution. If your biggest desire is to spend more time with your children, working longer hours may get in the way of what you actually want to achieve. Do you really want to spend your life traveling the world? Maybe it’s time to trade that huge house for a smaller one.
Make sure you’re working toward your GOALS in 2015 and not your RESOURCES!