Financial success often begins with the answer to the question "What do I want?"
Answers generally include the areas of home ownership, travel and entertainment, spending flexibility or living debt-free.
However, you may want to consider broadening your definition in order to have true financial independence.
In the traditional conception of financial success, anytime you set and achieve a desire, a social credential is given to you — a box is checked. Those "boxes" are typically material items or even certain experiences. The home of my dreams? Check. New electric car? Check. Annual European summer vacation? Check. Kids in the best schools? Check.
It's something we are all introduced to from the time we are children. We are inundated with images of what financial success looks like through advertising and entertainment and in our communities, schools and even our families.
However, it often presents a small mental trap: The more social credentials we earn, the more confident we begin to be that we're on the right track toward financial independence.
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So while it may feel and appear as if you are doing well, the cost might be living completely dependent on earning a particular amount of money or being stuck in a job you're unhappy working.
Therefore, let's consider broadening our definition of financial success to include emphasis on financial independence — the ability to freely and fully express and be you, both personally and professionally, without having to compromise your best self.
In addition to asking "What do I want?" we should also be asking questions such as "Do I feel completely alive?" or "Is my lifestyle sustainable as my life evolves and as I change?"
What if we defined financial success by being able to answer questions such as these 10 and by striving to live a life where the responses are at the focus of our decision-making?
- Do I enjoy waking up to my routine every day?
- Are the things that are important to me showing up in my daily life?
- Am I taking care of my health?
- Do I have the financial freedom to experience my favorite interests?
- Do I truly want everything that I am spending money on?
- Do I have enough reserves to support an emergency or an opportunity?
- Do I have the financial freedom to decrease my income significantly?
- Am I financially dependent on anyone today or in the future?
- Am I investing in myself to be my best self?
- Am I focused on financial independence being a finish line or a life journey?
Asking questions like these can lead to different approaches with work, family decisions, health, retirement and so much more.
This is an approach to financial success and independence defined and curated by you. Financial success cannot only be defined by what we want. It needs to be measured by something much deeper and more personal.
— By Katherine Liola, founder and CEO of Concentric Private Wealth
CHECK OUT: How going 'cash only' helped this 23-year-old pay off $20,000 in debt in one year via Grow with Acorns+CNBC.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.