A clever hoax, supposedly validated by Good Morning America, circulated on Facebook recently: Mark Zuckerberg, the thirty-one-year old billionaire founder of the social media giant was giving away a reported $45 billion dollars to users who copied and pasted a status sharing the news. Hundreds of thousands flocked to see if it was true.
But humor me (and yourself) for a minute. Suppose it was true. Suppose you were the beneficiary of a million-dollar windfall.
How would your life change?
What would you do differently?
I posed these questions on my own Facebook page and the answers were interesting. In fact, the answers revealed a few deep truths that I want to challenge you with as you finish 2015. In fact, your answer to these questions holds the key to a successful 2016.
I think you’ll find that you don’t need Mark Zuckerberg’s money to make 2016 your best year ever.
From the Gold Rush to the Clampetts to American Idol, our culture has a long-running history with dreams of overnight wealth. But too often, we take the bait in believing that money is the one thing we lack.
If you were to poll Americans and ask them what was keeping them from paying off debt, traveling more, chasing their dream, or giving more generously, the overwhelming answer would be: more money.
In the richest country in the history of the world, the one thing we believe we’re lacking is more money.In the richest country in the history of the world, the one thing we believe we're lacking is more money @matthamsr Click To Tweet
Even worse, money has become our excuse—our justification—for not living life to the fullest.
“If I only had more money, I’d __________.”
If you’ve ever found yourself saying those words, if you have ever allowed yourself to believe that money is the thing that is blocking you from your best life, nothing could be further from the truth.
At the age of twenty-four, I thought that money was the thing I needed most, so I chased it. In 2006, I had my first six-figure year. People talk about how much money they make, but they rarely talk about the lifestyle that accompanies it. New houses, new cars, and discontentment fueled my ambition.
When I subsequently went broke and moved back in with my parents, I began a seven-year journey to shift my perspective on what it really means to be rich.
What I’ve learned is that money makes you its slave without you even knowing it. If you supremely value money, you become its victim. But if you’re able to put it in its proper place, it will no longer be your barrier to live life to the fullest. You will be free.
In time, I have found that things like generosity, gratitude, and humility are much more accurate markers for richness than arbitrary figures in a bank account. And here’s a hint: those things have nothing to do with how much money you have.
In the end, I’ve learned that money only has the power you give to it.
Rethink Your Perspective
When I asked my friends on Facebook what they would do if they had more money, their overwhelming responses were: pay off debt, give, travel, start an orphanage, etc. Sure there were the occasional folks who threw in extravagant toys, but the majority of people responded with things they could start doing today. Yet curiously, they weren’t doing them.
If you want 2016 to be your best year ever, instead of chasing money or waiting on it to begin, spend a moment answering these questions to put money in its correct place:
If you didn’t have any money, what would you have that you still valued?
Imagine yourself without any money. Seriously. Go there. In that place, you find out what you truly value. Usually, it’s health and relationships and faith. These things are the foundation in our lives and learning to be thankful for them creates a deep sense of gratitude. Without a grateful foundation we cannot build. Start 2016 with this correct perspective and build on something more solid than money.
What did you learn about money in 2015 that you don’t want to duplicate in 2016?
The answer to this question will move you in a better direction during the new year. However, if you fail to take the time to answer it, it’s likely that the same mistakes will haunt you and become your excuse next December. If you don’t master money, it will master you. Mastering money begins by being honest with yourself about how much you value it and how well you steward it.
What would you do differently in 2016 if you had more money?
Answering this question will cause you to dream a little bit. And dreaming is important because it sparks hope. Here’s the thing, if you believe that money is keeping you from something, you need to know. But the truth is, you don’t need that money to start doing these things. Start giving more, start paying off debt, start traveling some TODAY! Stop waiting on money to do the things you want to do.
Your Best Year Ever
I truly believe that you have the potential to make 2016 a great year. Notice that I did not say that 2016 will be a great year. You have to make it great. And you make it great by being honest with yourself about the barriers that you’ve placed along your path.
Spend an hour this week to look back on your year. Reflect a little bit on 2015 before you charge head-first into 2016. By doing so, you’ll create closure to the year and leave the baggage behind.
The greatest freedom you’ll ever find is that you don’t need money to start chasing your dreams. When money becomes powerless to you, you have gained power over it. And that, my friends, is the first step to becoming truly rich.
In 2016, one of the things I want to do is to begin coaching and mentoring more. If you have an interest and would like to inquire, please email me at [email protected]
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About the Author
Matt Ham is a father of three (soon-to-be four) kids and lives in Wilmington, North Carolina with his wife, Liz. As a small business owner, Matt runs an insurance agency where he represents more than 900 families. Matt’s first book, Redefine Rich, is his journey and the stories of others that helped him reframe his perspective on living richly. For more on the book, visit www.redefinerich.com.
Matt is also an avid public speaker, presenting to thousands nationally. You can see some of his videos and inquire about his speaking by clicking here.