You are reading the thoughts of someone who has written "Million Dollar Consulting" and "Value Based Fees" and "How to Maximize Fees," and I'm also telling you that wealth is not about money.
Are you still with me?
Money is fuel for wealth, but wealth to me is discretionary time. We can all make more money, but not one of us can make more time. That is beyond the power of human achievement, at least as of this writing.
Wealthy people can use their time to best advantage for them: to attend a child's dance recital, volunteer in a soup kitchen, walk the dog around the block, make passionate love (these are NOT in order), study Kant, play the piano, tutor a student, work on a business challenge. In my world order, wealth is the ability to use finite time to suit one's needs, moods, and gratifications.
The less discretionary time you have, the poorer you are. While that obviously applies to someone forced to work in a sweatshop for pennies an hour 15 hours a day, it also applies to someone making a million bucks who is never home, at the board's beck and call, and racking up 200,000 air miles traveling 15 times a month.
Both these people are impoverished. The former can be saved with outside help. The latter can only be saved through self-help for which he or she probably has—drum roll—no time.
I've known a great many rich, unwealthy people, and quite a few poor, wealthy people. Not everyone needs the same amount of money to fuel their lives. So it's not the amount of money you earn, it's the discretionary time you create from delimited available time. I was pretty wealthy in college, though I had very little money: I chose my own courses and scheduling, worked in spare hours editing the school newspaper, engaged in spirited discussions of everything from civil rights to the best rock bands, and spent shared time with my wife-to-be. This, I think, is why so many of us who used the experience intelligently loved college. It was a time of the power of learning and the wealth of discretionary time. It may have been the wealthiest I've ever been.
Don't be covetous of what your neighbor has or, heaven forfend, what you see on television. (And remember that Donald Trump is using someone else's money—his father's.) If, in 2008, you can create the time to pursue your passions, make unfettered love, and bring good to others on your own time and your own terms, you are a wealthy person.
And while you don't have to be selfish, because no one can borrow it and no bank can reclaim it, it will nonetheless pay you great dividends.
Do you believe in "fresh starts"? I do. I love the symbolism of a New Year. A new calendar. As they say in football, "a new set of downs."
It's easier to purge the debilitating thoughts that stick like gum to our shoe when we simply change the shoe. You really can't reach out unless you let go of some things, so a new start forces the cleansing and scouring. We're not burdened by "2007" or "the fourth quarter" or even "December."
We have a figurative tabula rasa.
The major holidays are behind us (I'm not big on Groundhog Day here in the U.S., sorry). In the northern hemisphere we have some crisp cold air, and in the southern the serious warmth of summer. There is nothing wishy-washy or equivocating about the start of a new year. It's not one of those vague equinoxes. It's a full-fledged solstice!
It's breathtaking to take an empty calendar, strike out vacation dates, note anniversaries and birthdays, and then regard all that wondrous available time awaiting our command. I've never believed that you begin marking a calendar with "work." You begin by emphasizing life.
The beginning of the year is a time to seriously plan indulgences. You can take up a new hobby, or revisit an old pastime, or schedule family time without trying to "cram it in" or force fit the events. You can intelligently plan over the months. Even long-term plans have to start with nascent steps in the short-term. If you want to sail to Europe on the Queen Mary II, you need to plan for sailing times, hotels, activities, wardrobe, and so forth. That's fun over several months, but Sisyphean over a week.
I find my hyper-self downright phlegmatic early in the year. After all, there is plenty of time. Nothing is rushed. The birds seem to soar more and flap their wings less (which, I admit, in the winter, is due to stronger winds necessitating less flapping, but I'm digressing and showing off). People trudge more slowly, inhibited by the hangover of the New Year and what many of them perceive to be the massive, looming weight of the year ahead.
I see it differently. The New Year is for re-NEW-al. Specific resolutions are rarely kept because they require behavior change that, sooner or later, becomes onerous. What we need is an entirely different perspective and mental set—new values, which will influence our attitudes and inform our behaviors.
Try viewing this New Year as your own theater, with your own script, your own direction, and your own unique ability to generate rave reviews.
You should be reading this in very early January. Step out on stage and begin to perform the next act in the play of your life.
Drivers of certain cars wave to each other. The most common and friendly are Corvette drivers. Many years ago I owned a Corvette and happily engaged in this ritual, even developing a special wave. Men and women, old and young, partook of this cult-like affectation.
One day, three separate Corvette drivers, all men, refused to return my wave. I was incensed at the rudeness. Finally, a bright yellow Corvette pulled up alongside me at a light driven by a quite attractive woman who I was sure would respond appropriately. I gave her my best smile and my special wave.
To my shock, she made a distinctly unpleasant face as a I waved at her, and drove away as soon as the light changed.
Mortified, I hit the gas to catch up with her and was astounded at how sluggish my car was. It was about then that I realized I was driving our station wagon.
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