I am in a book club. There are a lot of great things about this book club. First, there are only seven of us in the club and we are learning a lot about each other. We are a collection of women with differing views on lots of things; but we agree to be open to learning and accept that it is OK to disagree. We all do agree that being in book club expands our reading list to include books we might not have considered before, or even knew existed. I should mention that we live in the Port Isabel/South Padre Island, Texas, area which is on the Gulf of Mexico. Several of the group members have homes on the bay or live on the “island”. The scenery we experience while discussing books is pretty spectacular. We indulge in food and beverages (including adult beverages) which relate to the book. On occasion a book doesn’t have much of a food theme or even much mention of food, so we freelance and use it as an excuse to make margaritas or have a bottle of wine.
The book we read and discussed this month is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I had never heard of this book, even though it was published 10 years ago. Maybe I wasn’t keeping up on international authors, Paulo Coelho is from Brazil. Perhaps the title made me think of some science project and I don’t find it easy to wrap my brain around chemistry. Whatever the reason, I have now discovered the Alchemist with its spiritual tale of Personal Legends, challenges, hope, perseverance, love, and life. You may ask, what does this book and the concept of a Personal Legend have to do with a blog about financial freedom. I say everything!
How we live and create our lives spiritually, professionally, financially, and with our family and friends is part of our Personal Legend. It is easy to think of great leaders and public figures as having Personal Legends. For example, when we think of Abraham Lincoln, we see his Personal Legend as changing the United States in a profound and long-lasting way. Well, we all aren’t going to be like Abraham Lincoln, but we do have the opportunity to create our lives and our Personal Legends.
I see a Personal Legend as a clever and profound way of describing an individual’s values, goals, and dreams. It seems stronger, clearer, and more forceful than talking about destiny.
So what does this have to do with financial management? A Personal Legend is a key component of a financial life.
The first question I would ask a person when meeting with her or him about finances was “What are your goals and dreams”? I didn’t ask how much money she or he earned, how much is spent, occupation, or credit card debt amounts, and other traditional financial information. The answers to those questions are part of the picture, but tend to reflect where a person has been or may be at the moment.
To some, goals and dreams seem like flakey esoteric terms. Ideally they are the first part of financial management. Paulo Coelho reminds us that “… wherever your heart is, that is where you will find your treasure”. The term treasure reaches beyond just the traditional capitalist view of something of intrinsic value. Understanding what is valuable, or a treasure, differs from person to person. This means the traditional text-book financial management practices may not work for everyone. Some people value stability over adventure, others value control of their time over big paychecks, while many value material goods over long-term financial security.
I have met people who value their faith above personal comfort, others who place more value on caring for family members than on their own needs, and some who could live a “big lifestyle” but choose to give money to those in need. On occasion, I encountered those who treasured money as a symbol of success, power, or status. These are just a few of the value choices, or treasures, which become the foundation of a Personal Legend.
A person who invests in understanding what is important on a personal level can then make conscious decisions to use his or her resources consistent with his or her values, goals and dreams. This can be tricky in a world which constantly markets an overwhelming number of consumer products and services which promise to fulfill our dreams. That is why I see a relationship between a Personal Legend and personal financial management. They fit together. Through his writing in The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho tells a wonderful story and subtly pushes the reader to thinking about her or his Personal Legend. Nice!
Until next time.