I have run into the following questions more often than I can remember. And, most of the time, I have found them rather frustrating. How about you?

  • Where do you want to be (financially) in five years? 10 years? 20 years? When you retire? Etc. (???)
  • What are you aiming for in your investments: Preservation of capital? Income? Growth? Profits? Speculation? Hedging? . . .
  • You’re about to buy a stock. The “best” advisors say you should know your exit strategy. Okay. So when will you know it’s time to sell?
  • What’s your number (when you will know you have enough to retire)?
  • Where do you want your money to go when you die?

And so forth.

Why are these questions so frustrating? Because—at least for me—I have a hard time pinning myself down! So much “depends”!

Worse, the questions assume I actually think about these kinds of things. And—except for the question about where I want my money to go when I die—I don’t think about these things. In fact, I don’t want to think about them. They are almost odious to me. I have the sense that they focus on the wrong things.

FOR EXAMPLE: Certain “success” gurus advocate a form of “neuro-linguistic programming” in which, they suggest, you should place some firm “vision” of what you want in your mind . . . so that your mind will “naturally” pursue the “goal” you have placed before it.

And so, they suggest, envision “that [exotic] car you always wanted,” or a huge mansion, or a luxury yacht. Or think about how you envision retirement: living in a certain place, playing golf every day . . . or whatever.

Get that picture—or those pictures—clearly in your mind. Now. Once you’ve placed them in your mind one time, go back to that same mental place every morning. Take the time to recover the same vision. And think about that vision. Envision it in detail. Make those details as “real” in your mind as possible.

If you follow this discipline every day, these “gurus” claim, eventually these dreams will “manifest” themselves for you.

Problem (for me, anyway): I really don’t desire a fancy car or a yacht, a mansion or a retirement (in the way most financial “gurus” seem to suggest retirement should be).

More important to me than these physical things: I want happiness. Satisfaction. Joy. Peace. Relationships—friends—that push me to go beyond myself (wherever I happen to be at the moment). (I resonate with the sentiments expressed in songs like Rolf Lovland and Brendan Graham’s “You Raise Me Up.” [“You raise me up . . . to walk on stormy seas / . . . to more than I can be.”]) I want to be engaged in activities of long-lasting (if possible, “eternal”) significance.

These are the “things” I desire. And these are the “things” I desire for those around me.

Discovering the relationship between these non-physical goals and dollars and cents seems almost impossible. Yet dollars and cents can play a significant role—for good or ill—in our pursuit of such goals.

I plan to continue with this theme in the next several posts. Meanwhile, some initial questions to start your juices flowing:

  • What are your goals in life?
  • Are they all physical? Or is there a non-physical/spiritual component?
  • Does money have anything to do with your non-physical goals? If so, what is the relationship between your financial situation and these non-physical goals?