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What's Your Why?

I'm sure you've heard this question before, and if you haven't heard it from your financial advisor, you may have a problem. Many use this question in terms of what someone wants in life, their reason for being, and indeed, their purpose.

Knowing Your Why

  • Provides clarity
  • Keeps you focused
  • Fuels your passion
  • Helps you find meaning in setbacks and develop your resilience
  • Defines and helps you remain true to your core values

I use this question when I talk about money. Whenever I speak with a client, I ask them, “What are you investing for?”

Sometimes I get a strange look. The obvious answers are “To get rich,” or “To save for retirement,” or “Because I must.” But successful investing requires much more than just general categories of purpose. The more you know why you are investing, the more likely you are to be disciplined to stick to your savings and investing plan when the markets and your personal life challenge your resolve.

Your goals need to be specific and elaborate. Saying, “I want to save for retirement,” is not enough. When you retire, where do you want to live? What kind of home do you want to own or rent? Or do you want to live in a condo, on an island or a boat? In what kind of activities do you want to engage? Travel? Golf? Exploring great restaurants? Getting involved in and contributing to causes you care about?

If you are younger and saving for your first house, you must state what you want specifically, not what you think you can get. Whether it is a vacation or your child’s tuition, you need to be specific.

These goals are important because rather than save and hope, which will likely not get you where you really want to be, you can focus your efforts and make decisions in your life progressively—about your career, investments, and lifestyle—that may affect your success in reaching your financial goals. Without specific and detailed goals, attaining any degree of financial security will be difficult, if not impossible.

German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche said, “He who has a why can endure any how.” Once you have your why, that is, your true goal and your true reason for that goal, the how will become essential to you, not just another chore you have to complete. Knowing your why is also important so that you don’t slip into emotional decisions and so that you have the motivation to work hard.

At Curran, our private wealth managers are dedicated to understanding our clients "why" in order to cater our wealth management services individually.