Have you been trying to “get ahead?” It can be difficult not to. But there are a couple problems with getting ahead:

  • Against whom do you measure “getting ahead,” and is it possible to get ahead without someone else getting behind?
  • How far ahead do you need to get, and when will you know you’re there?

Maybe instead of getting ahead, we should simply focus on having enough. How might that change the way we behave, treat other people or see the world?

Accumulation Over Appreciation

The age of social media is a consumer-driven, fast-paced culture where everyone is online, everyone is sharing what they have, and we’re pressured to keep up with the Joneses more than ever before. It’s only natural that you see what others have and compare your life to those around you. The idea that you have to “get ahead” of them forces you to spend more time and money acquiring things than enjoying them—accumulating rather than appreciating.

This mindset even bleeds into our financial planning. For those that fall into this trap, it’s easy to constantly check your balances and benchmark your portfolio performance against friends, family and others around you—rather than measuring against your own, specific financial plan. It can cause you to go against your carefully constructed plan in an effort to yield the highest returns on your investments.

What It Means to “Have Enough”

When you’re so focused on getting ahead, you can lose sight of what it means to have enough. While “enough” is a subjective term, it can be boiled down to a few truths, especially when it comes to your finances.

Essentially, what “enough” means for you and your financial situation comes down to how you answer a few questions:

  • What will it take for you to be able to pay for your basic needs (food, shelter, health care, etc.)?
  • What will it take to pay for the lifestyle you have in mind?
  • What will it take for you to be secure?

Based on your situation, you may need to ask yourself a few more questions, but these are a good jumping off point. They can help you think about what it looks like for you and your family to have enough, and they can be used to help you establish your long-term financial goals.

Achieving Your Goals vs. Seeking the Best Possible Outcome

Focusing on having enough means focusing on what it will take to achieve your financial goals. Once you’ve established what those goals are, you can enact your financial plan to achieve them.

When you look to get ahead, you seek out the highest possible return. While that would certainly be the ideal outcome in many situations, it ultimately sets you up for disappointment, as it would likely end with trying to time the markets and chasing short-term gains.

For instance, you might find out that your friend’s investments are yielding better returns than your own. To match (or even outperform) those gains, you may alter your financial plan in search of some short-term wins. This decision might work out for you in the moment, but it could also seriously jeopardize your ability to achieve your long-term goals.

Financial planning is all about looking ahead and seeing the big picture. It’s about establishing goals that suit your situation and working through a blueprint that will help you build the financial future you want. When we look to get ahead versus having enough, it’s easy to stray from this plan we’ve constructed for ourselves and stumble along the way.

The financial advisors at Wealth Enhancement Group know the importance of striving to have enough instead of looking to get ahead. They can work with you to build a comprehensive financial plan based on your goals and your situation. Reach out today to find out how they can help.

Charlie Massimo

Charlie Massimo

Senior Vice President, Financial Advisor

Series 3, 7, 24, 63* & 65 Advisory Registrations† For three decades Charlie served at top firms Shearson Lehman, New York Life and Merrill Lynch, culminating in a role as a Senior Investment Officer at Smith Barney. In 2003, Charlie launched CJM Wealth Management, where he focused on a wide range of issues from tax and estate planning, to life insurance and the use of trusts. While Charlie works with various high-net worth families, he also has a strong concentration...Read More