“Time is the Stuff that Life is made of.”
– Ben Franklin
Sometimes life has a way of teaching us the most important lessons in the most painful way. It seems there must be some cosmic force that dictates that our most painful and difficult experiences are also our most memorable, and we never forget the lessons they teach.
A Harsh Reminder
I was recently meeting with a new client and we had an interesting conversation about the balance we all must strike between enjoying our current lifestyle, as opposed to saving and accumulating wealth for the future.
We are all granted a limited and finite number of days on this earth, but unfortunately we aren’t granted the knowledge of exactly how many days that will be: we know we are going to die someday, we just don’t know when. As we grow older, we know that our life span is getting shorter every day, but we just don’t know how much shorter it is. Because of this reality, as we grow older we are naturally inclined to focus on enjoying our current lifestyle, and to maximize our happiness in the time we have right now, because life can be short, and “someday” may never come. Our client observed that he would hate to spend a lifetime working very hard and sacrificing his time, scrimping and saving – only to unexpectedly die before his “someday” when he was planning to start enjoying life. We concluded together that it is important to find a comfortable balance. While it is important to plan for our long term financial future, it is also important to remember that time is precious, and we must enjoy our lives today.
As if on cue, the reality of this conversation hit me like a sledgehammer between the eyes when, the very next day I received the news that an old friend was tragically killed in a freak accident, stolen from his wife and kids at the young age of 54.
Placing Money in Perspective
Our mission here at Concentus is to help families to save, accumulate and manage their money, so that they can achieve the future of their dreams. However, we must also never forget that, in the grand scheme of things, money is significant only to the extent that it allows you to enjoy what is important to you, and to live a life that is in harmony with your core values.
How many people would trade the happiness, mental and physical health, and well-being of their family for more money? Would you compromise your values or morals so that you could have a bigger bank account, or give up your family’s heritage and character so that you could have a bigger W2 this year? What parent wouldn’t spend every dime of their money to ensure the health of a sick child? Unfortunately we have all seen people who compromise the happiness and well-being of their family for more money; those who compromise their own values, morals and health for a bigger bank account; and often make themselves miserable and ill in the process.
How about our time? What wealthy man, lying on his deathbed, wouldn’t trade his entire fortune for just a few more days? Author Wayne Dyer is famous for writing about his work with people with terminal illnesses. Perhaps his most quotable remark has been that none of these people, confronted with their final days, said they wished they had spent more time in the office. It is hard to imagine that they would have said they wish they’d spent more time checking their stock portfolio performance or reviewing their balance sheet either.
Benjamin Franklin once said that “Time is the Stuff that Life is Made of”. Time is the most precious commodity that any of us owns, and it can be taken from us at any moment, and with no warning. In honor of my old friend, let us all remember to enjoy every moment of it, and spend it wisely by doing those things that are most important.