The whole notion of values is a touchy subject because it’s so hard to grasp. What exactly are values?
The term means different things to different people. To some, values are the pillars of existence, while others view them as a collection of subjective mores used by the former group to judge everyone else. But if we strip this concept of its rhetorical baggage, I believe we do find something of great, uh, value.
Our values are simply the stuff in life that we want to be about. That which we want to define us. The guideposts we choose to live by.
They are the priorities that we hope will mark our time on this earth. They are the elements of life that motivate us; that when satisfied, bring us genuine contentment. Enough.
They are neither universal nor constant. Our values may, indeed, change as we change, but they are also not fleeting.
Values are critical in financial planning as anchors for our goals and boundaries for the actions we take to achieve them. But most of all, they make the hardest decisions in life much easier by helping us prioritize what truly is the most important.
Understanding what you value most will help simplify even the most complex financial decisions.
Perhaps the most famous articulation of one’s values belongs to founding father Benjamin Franklin. At the age of twenty, Franklin created a system to help shape his character. Indeed, Franklin described the purpose of his system, based on a list of his “Thirteen Virtues,” and his attempted application of it in his SEO Leeds autobiography.
He lists a single word followed by a clarifying sentence. Here is a sample: