In our class this week we stepped away from dealing with the technical aspect of money and focused on the mindset. We put a picture of a fairly elderly lady of about 90 years old up and posed the following questions – What will be important to you at that age? What will you want to have experienced with your life? Our nation, and in particular the people who were directly affected through loss of loved ones and/or came close to losing their own lives in the Westgate attack, has been through an experience that will forever be etched in our minds. I wish we could but we cannot change the experience. The only thing we can try and do no matter how difficult is to decide whether this experience is going to count for some sort of change in the way we think and the way we act. Our class on Saturday is held at a venue near Westgate and the questions I have asked is what we were actually discussing only to come out and find that those questions are not just relevant at 90 years of age, they are relevant now.
What will be important to you? Many in the class mentioned Family in different ways. A very young man in our class – about 20 years of age- went beyond family and said grand children because of the relationship he has with his grandfather. Others said that it was ensuring their children were educated properly. Health -many said they would still want to be healthy enough to enjoy their lives and enjoy the company of those around them. Leaving a Legacy was also very common in terms of both a financial legacy as well as having created something – family culture, a business or reputation- that survives the person. Being able to afford a decent lifestyle without necessarily having to go to work everyday was highlighted. Solid Friendships and being Right with one’s Maker was very popular. These things start pointing out to what is commonly referred to as a “Value System”. You see, making money for the sake of money itself will never make you happy, as it is a moving target. If you think you will be happy when you have Kes 10 million, when you do get it you will want more. This is why you can meet some very unhappy billionaires. Money can be used as one of the resources or tools for the life you want but it is not the life. The life or the values that are important to you may be one of the ones mentioned i.e. Family, Relationships, Spirituality, Legacy, Health or as you read these articles others that are coming to mind.
What will you want to have experienced? They are things that will be important to you but now place yourself as an active participant in the movie called “your life”. What experiences and memories do you want to have? The ‘Family” value here as an experience may be translated into “I want to have spent time with my Family”. What I have now personally learnt is that you cannot wait to have that experience in the future. There are many who subconsciously postpone spending quality time with family because they are waiting to have money. Yes, today you may not be able to treat your family to the most expensive restaurant in town, but even in your own home you can spend time. What will be important is the time you did spend and as a result of that the relationships you strengthened, not how much money you spent while you were doing it. A lot of people also said Travelling, which I can personally relate to. Travelling and experiencing the world does not have to start with when you can afford a “round the world trip in 80 days”. It can simply be going to a different county and then as your resources grow, you can expound the experience as your available resources to do it grows. Many people say that want to “Give back to society and/or empower people” but are waiting to have a chunk of money to do it. Giving as we have seen can come in any form. You many not have money but you can give time. You may not have an immediate captive audience of 1000 people to empower but you may be able to make a difference by mentoring one person – and you usually find that the person in need has been right in front of your nose the entire time.
I wrote an article on the use of Time some weeks ago and how it is the biggest resource we have. How we use it is truly what dictates the quality of our lives both today and tomorrow. Thinking about what you truly value, also starts to highlight what you haven been doing simply to please other people. Have you been working to accumulate material possessions simply because of gaining respect from other people at the expenses of your happiness i.e. living a life full of experiences you value? Are you at that job or want another job only because of a paycheck? Are you procrastinating on starting that business because of what other people think? I believe we have to learn to put money and our lives in the right context. Isn’t it telling that as we went through last weekend, people were worried about people, Kenyans came – donated, gave blood, sent messages of hope and comfort, gave time together for other Kenyans. They were not worried about loosing their cars, the business deals or the money in the bank. Crisis truly reveals who people are and I am proud to be Kenyan. Are you proud to be who you are and courageous enough to live it out Today?
Waceke runs a program on personal financial management.
Find her at firstname.lastname@example.org