It might be my age. Perhaps it’s the major bereavement I suffered in the run-up to Christmas. Or maybe it’s the health scare that required surgery at the start of the year (all sorted now — thank you, NHS!) But, whatever the reason for it is, I’ve been giving plenty of thought lately to what it takes to make our lives meaningful.
Life is short — the average human life span is only around 4,000 weeks — and we would all like our lives to count for something. As Jonathan Hollow and I explain in our new book, How to Fund the Life You Want, leading a life that matters has nothing to do with amassing financial wealth. But what does a meaningful life constitute? What exactly do you need to do feel that you’re leading a meaningful life?
I explored this crucially important issue in a recent article I wrote for rockwealth Brighton, which I hope you find helpful.
A common misconception is that financial planning is all about maximising wealth. Of course, you need to ensure you’ll have enough money to lead the life you want without running out. But, fundamentally, financial planning isn’t about money at all: it’s about helping you to lead a meaningful life.
Having plenty of money and feeling that your life has meaning are two completely different things.
A 2014 study showed how people in poorer countries generally have a greater sense of meaning in life than those in wealthier ones. Psychologists Shigehiro Oishi and Ed Diener found that nearly a quarter of Americans couldn’t say what made their lives meaningful. They also found that although people in the United States and Sweden were generally happier than those in Togo or Sierra Leone, for example, the suicide rate was significantly lower in those poverty-stricken nations.
So, if not money, what does make for a meaningful life? A book called The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life that Matters by the author and journalist Emily Esfahani Smith provides some helpful insights. In it the author suggests six steps to leading a more fulfilling, purpose-driven life.
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