Today’s news is filled with doom about the economy and dire predictions about a permanent downsizing of the American Dream. It’s as if our futures have become foretold. To me, this is precisely the time to talk about building wealth.
The mind numbing tidal wave of financial collapse does not have to engulf you. To avoid it, however, you have to have an evacuation plan that leads to higher financial ground, and you have to choose when to put that plan into action. When it comes to wealth building, it always starts with a choice.
I recently heard of man who died at 53. He had been a quadriplegic since being in a car crash when he was 20. Over 300 people crowded the church for his memorial service and hundreds more counted him as a friend. Not just a friend, a good friend.
Confined to a wheelchair, with the use of one arm but not his hands, he had worked at maintaining those friendships, investing time and effort in learning what held meaning for each and every one of them. He had used technology to stay in touch with the world. His friends sought him out for advice. He never betrayed a trust he had earned. And he never complained about his condition. Not a day in his life went by without someone dropping in on him for some quality time.
I call that a wealthy man.
His wealth was not accidental. However you measure wealth, building it involves working towards certain fundamental principles. It turns out this man had always had good friends. After his crash and rehabilitation, he recognized how important they were to him – they were major assets – and he made a choice to work hard at having a wealth of them. He lived off of the joy and love they generated. When he passed, he had outlived his life expectancy by more than 20 years.
We all seem to have a deep down sense of what wealth is. We might agree, for instance, that it contains the passion of our relationships, the intensity of our experiences and all of those things you can take with you. We could also probably agree that wealth includes not only what you earn, but also what you are given and what you learn.
Wealth is not simply the sum of our assets and resources minus our liabilities and debt, it involves the choices we make in how to work with them to generate capital. Strangely enough, wealth only has value if it is used, and it is only worth having if it supplies the capital we need to live a fulfilled life.
One more thing we can probably agree on. While wealth involves more than money, money is likely one of the first things that come to mind when we think about building it.
How, then, do we begin to build wealth? For me, it started with choosing to find out how. That meant making an investment in my self – recognizing that I could use a little help in the form of knowledge – and making a commitment to that process. I pretty quickly discovered that time (a key ingredient for getting anything done) was essential to building wealth – and that I had better use it wisely because, let’s face it, who knows exactly how much time any of us has? (How many of us knew our retirement investments might be sliced in half so quickly, or that our employer might suddenly be considering layoffs?)
So, I sought out experts who could effectively and efficiently teach me fundamental principles of debt elimination, tax reduction, cash flow multiplication, asset protection, investment management and how to live on less than I made.
I found them at Wealth Masters International, through their m1 program, which takes the kind of holistic approach to wealth that I have been talking about. That’s where I also learned how to be responsible with money regardless of how much or how little I was making. And it’s where I learned that building wealth is directly connected to personal growth and growing beneficial relationships.
The decision to transform your American Dream into reality does not need to be triggered by a life-changing event. Choices must be made. Effort and time will be required, but less time than you might imagine. Your inner life will grow as well, and you’ll meet some remarkable people along the way.