When I think about “living well,” the first thing I notice is that for me, living well has very little to do with finances.
As I sit down to write this piece, I think about what is most important to me. It makes sense that what’s most important in my life contains the answer to this question of living well.
Determine What Holds Value For You — Outside of Your Finances
Instantly, what comes to mind is a picture of my family: my wife, Crista, our three children, and our extended family.
I think about all these people and their quality of life and how I can improve it. Am I aware of my spouse’s needs: do I know how she is feeling, how she is living, what is going on in her world? I think of my children, and their needs. Not only their basic needs for food and a roof over their heads, but the care and love they need. I think about the everyday things like a question on their homework, or just the need to sit down and have a conversation with me about whatever is on their mind.
For me, living well covers being aware of what is going on in the lives of all my loved ones. I ask myself, am I in tune with my loved ones? Do I know how they are today?
Growing up as a child of two pastors, I am strongly influenced by the values that were instilled in me. I think about those core values regularly and try to live by them.
One of the guiding principles in my life is to do good, to do right by people. The idea of impact plays a huge role in my life. It drives how I lead my life at home, as well as at work. Am I helping others? How am I having a positive impact on the people around me?
Beyond the needs of my loved ones, for me, living well includes the well-being of my circle of friends. I think about what it means to be a good friend by taking actions that support my vision of good friendship. Living well also means thinking about my community and the impact I am having there.
Prioritize Your Personal Wellness In Order to Serve Others
The more I think of all this, the more I realize that to be able to care for my family, I need to put my personal health first.
When I think about taking care of myself, my first reaction is that taking time for me is selfish. But increasingly, I am seeing the value of even a 15-minute break to recharge. Living well includes taking care of myself first, not for selfish reasons, but because it is the only way I will be able to live (to the extent that it’s in my control) a long, healthy life so that I can support my family.
Taking time for myself has become a necessity and it can look like a bunch of different things. Sometimes, it’s taking the dog for a walk just to regroup with myself (and to give Atlas some gratefully received time outside!). Other times it’s as simple as eating a healthier meal, instead of a quick bite on the run.
I am trying to make space for activities that I personally enjoy, like golfing or sitting at a beach. Living well requires taking the time to reflect on my life. If I don’t take that time to pause and reflect, I may not end up where I was hoping to go.
Proactively Living Well Is a Lifelong Journey
While I can’t control the future, I do believe that how I live my life today will have an impact on the future. Whether it’s choices I make around my own health, or actions I take in my community, or ways that I support my family — everything I do today matters.
As much as I want for my children to have as little stress as possible, and to live as carefree a life as possible, I also want to teach them that living well means taking the time to slow down and consider how every one of our actions affects the people and things around us today, and into the future.
James Bode is Managing Partner at Beck Bode, a deliberately different wealth management firm with a unique view on investing, business, and life.