Apr 04, 2020

Three Mindsets “The Wealthy” Are Embracing to Cultivate Well-Being

Apr 04, 2020
Mark T. Johnsen
Chief Wealth Architect, CEO & Founder
I often ask my clients to get a bit vulnerable. It takes courage to sit with your financial advisor, maybe even for the first time, and talk about sensitive topics like the purpose of your financial wealth or your goals for non-financial growth. Yet, over the past 25 years, I’ve seen these unvarnished conversations pay real dividends on both material and emotional levels. It’s given me perspective on how successful individuals and families are finding well-being beyond their balance sheets. Here are three mindsets I’ve seen embraced in Silicon Valley and beyond.

1. Recognizing That Being “Rich” Doesn’t Mean Being “Wealthy”

We live in one of the richest communities in the richest state in the richest country in the world. But are we actually well? As a country, we rank only 20th for overall well-being according to Gallup. Our kids in California rank 35th out of 50 states for well-being according to the California Children’s Report Card. By some measures, 50 percent of the people right here in our own community are struggling or suffering.

At Wealth Architects, we believe being wealthy and well are synonymous. We are seeking to help shift perspectives about what constitutes a truly wealthy life. And we are honored to be part of a very intentional community of associates, clients, and professional advisors that recognize that wealth is much more than money.

Working within this community for the last 15 years, I have observed that successful individuals and families that do the work to develop authentic answers to the questions below are accessing a source of well-being that greatly enhances their enjoyment of life. They are building true wealth.

– Why don’t we think beyond traditional financial wealth management and into the realm of holistic wealth management that includes mental and physical health?
– Why wouldn’t the life balance of our mental and physical health, quality of our relationships, meaningful careers, and community involvement be accounted for on our personal balance sheets?
– If a financial advisor can recommend investments for your retirement plan, why can’t they address the investments you are trying to make in your life?
– How do your resources of time and money play into that equation? Shouldn’t the conversation start there?

It’s not easy work, but we feel it is of critical importance to address these questions during this period of unprecedented material prosperity in our community.

2. Actively Aligning Money With Values

Let me get vulnerable here for a moment: the difference I am trying to make in my life, here in the pressure cooker of success in Silicon Valley, is to help individuals live lives that are not only financially secure, but also rich in purpose and meaning. This goal is not by coincidence. I came from a family that lost a breadwinning father early and then struggled. I know the pain of getting caught in a complicated world without a plan. And having worked in financial wealth management long enough, I have witnessed the pain of a resource-rich community that longs for their true wealth to align with their underlying human values and aspirations.

I have observed that those who are living truly wealthy lives are in tune with a critical yet so often overlooked truth–hiding in plain sight–that when we align our money with our values and put it toward things like helping improve our mind, our body, our spirit, and our relationships with our family and friends, a subtle and beautiful transformation takes place. When we use our resources to build meaningful careers or do work for volunteer purposes, when we sincerely strive to be a contributing member and give back to our community–those are the pillars in life that move the needle with regard to happiness and well-being.

I have found that aligning money with values can profoundly impact people who may have once felt rudderless or overwhelmed. What seemed unachievable, was actually sitting right in front of them for the taking.

3. Maintaining Perspective (This is hard)

The accumulation of money has a fascinating penchant for promoting isolation and skewing perspective. It’s incredible how quickly something we didn’t have before becomes something we can’t live without. We’ve all seen situations where people lose perspective and allow money to crowd out human sources of joy like family, community and, ultimately, self. In my work, I find that the people who actively work to maintain perspective on these essential elements do much better at achieving enduring well-being.

In their 2010 book, Well-Being, Tom Rath and Jim Harter identify the five essential elements to our overall well-being: career, social, financial, physical, and community. Unfortunately, research shows that only seven percent of people are thriving in all five areas. To get the most out of our lives, I believe we need to give attention to all five elements and how they interact with each other. It’s a delicate balance, and if choreographed intentionally, pays meaningful dividends toward how we feel about our wealth and well-being as a whole.

At the end of the day, cultivating this broad perspective matters. Are we climbing the ladder of success in life only to find that the ladder is leaning on the wrong wall? I believe every one of us, myself included, needs to be careful what wall we put our ladder on. After all, here in Silicon Valley, many of us spend our lives climbing these “ladders of success.” But what is most important is getting the wall right. Are we becoming rich or are we becoming wealthy? As we move into this new decade, let’s set the right intention so we can all access and enjoy wealthier lives.

To dig deeper into this subject, we welcome you to view Mark T. Johnsen’s opening remarks at the 2019 Wealth Architects University in Palo Alto, California.