I just finished Mark Manson’s latest book, and I really wasn’t planning on blogging about it because the title is pretty provocative. But the content was so good that I decided to write about it anyway. I’ll shorten the title to The Subtle Art, and you can look it up on your own. But here are a few of Manson’s thoughts, filtering them through the lens of personal finance.
The book’s thesis is that in order to live a happy life you should care about a few things very deeply, but in order to do that you have to let go of everything else. Manson writes, “What I’m talking about here is essentially learning how to focus and prioritize your thoughts effectively—how to pick and choose what matters to you and what does not matter to you based on finely honed personal values.”
In the first part, he addresses prioritizing thoughts, and you would think that our default mindset would be to concentrate on what matters to us, right? Instead, most of us get tripped up on thinking about what matters to everybody else—cars, houses, vacations, etc. So we end up wasting a lot of money and energy seeking things that don’t even matter to us and certainly don’t make us happy.
So what will make you happy? We tend to seek quick and easy answers—McDonald’s, no money down financing, “hot stocks,” etc. But Manson comments, “A question that most people never consider is, ‘What pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for?’ because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.”
We all want to achieve goals, but achieving a major goal is something that only happens every few years. So in order to be happy, you have to love the process. And that process can be painful. It goes back to old adage that anything worth having is worth fighting for. So when you say you want something, if you really want it, you better enjoy the struggle and daily grind of working toward it.
For example, say you want to retire by the age of 40. Even if you are in your early thirties, that is still several years away, and through all that time, you will have to live well below your means. People will expect you to maintain a certain lifestyle, but you must keep your resolve to prioritize what matters to you and enjoy making those daily decisions to forgo an indulgence you could otherwise afford.
To achieve any major goal, financial or not, you have to prioritize what matters to you and love the process. You have to enjoy the daily sacrifices, knowing that they are made to achieve something that will make you truly happy.
Josh Norris is an Investment Advisory Representative of LeFleur Financial. Josh can be reached at josh@LeFleurFinancial.com.