There is No U-Haul Attached to Yer Hearse

By: Tyler Hayden

Life can be simple. Your personal success can be simple, too; we just make it difficult to achieve. Many people yearn and strive for financial success. They want the fast car, the big house, and the fancy vacations. Frankly, it’s easy to get caught up in that type of thinking – these depictions of freedom linked to success bombard us daily in the media. To be honest, I got caught up in it, too. I was compromising everything to achieve those ends and devising complex schemes to make it all happen immediately.

Then I visited my wife’s nan “up Cape Breton." Over tea and sweets, she gave me the best financial planning advice I have ever received. Her simple wisdom opened up new doors for me, allowing me to see the important things in life, enabling me to build important wealth that lasts beyond a lifetime.

She said, “Tyler there ain’t a U-Haul attached to yer hearse."

Instantly, I thought, “That’s the truest thing I’ve ever heard!" Think about the last funeral you attended. No moving trailers, just big black hearses. That’s it.

While it is important to accumulate some possessions – a family home for the kids and grandkids to return to, maybe a car to travel to work, and a kitchen table to sit and eat at – really, how much stuff do we need? It seems that people who want fewer belongings are happier. I think it’s because they stress less about getting or keeping their stuff. Unless you are planning to hitch a moving van to your hearse so you can take everything with you like some Egyptian pharaoh, why worry about owning so much stuff now that isn’t going to mean much when all is said and done?

But wait. What is real wealth and how do we go about building it?

Financial Wealth Is not Freedom

I admit I used to work with Amway, relentlessly selling liquid detergent and the dream of “financial freedom and not a pyramid marketing scheme" to my friends. Only several weeks out of university, working a contract job, and in debt out the wazoo, I thought it would be a good way to make some extra pesos. I went to the meetings, shook hands, kissed babies, and listened to the tapes, striving to learn the “business."

What I realized a short way into the program was that they were selling “freedom" not soap. The soap was just a means to that end. People signed up in legions to buy and sell the soap because they wanted what they perceived to be “freedom" – money. I used to believe that freedom came with a thick pocketbook. Now that I have had time to think about it and talk with some of the “old-timers" who have true perspective, I recognize the falsehoods in that assumption.

When did you feel a greater sense of freedom: climbing a tree with your friends at age 11 or when you entered a new tax bracket? Climbing trees, of course. Think about how few stressors there were then. That is true freedom – at least until your mom called you in for supper, but you knew it didn’t cost a dime. Freedom is a state of being in which we live unencumbered by constraints. That is wealth, true personal wealth that inspires others, keeps us grounded, and brings us happiness.

You are probably saying to yourself, “Tyler, I get it. But we can’t be 11 for the rest of our lives. We have to grow up. We need a house to live in and food to eat, all of which cost dinero." I can’t disagree with that.

We do need to earn money in order to survive in this economy. What I am driving at is that the more financial wealth you amass, the greater a responsibility and burden it becomes. Think about it. If you had $1 million in the bank what would you do with it? Let it sit there and accumulate interest? Invest and attempt to make more money? Live a millionaire’s lifestyle? To accomplish any of those things with $1 million would hinder our precious freedom. It takes energy and watchfulness to ensure that such a resource is developed and not lost.

Granted, many of us will not see $1 million in our lives; heck that’s a lot of coin. So think about it in these terms. If you get a promotion or a raise at work what do you do? Do you spend it before you ever get your first check, or do you celebrate the raise and then move on, business as usual? The people who spend the extra money before they receive it can get themselves into hot water. Say they buy a new car or house. Either way, their monthly expenses increase, hopefully in proportion to the raise, and sure they have “nicer" things, but they are less free – additional payments, additional responsibilities, and a greater burden.

Finding a balance between your material needs and desires will create a greater sense of happiness, thus true freedom. I’m not saying quit your job and live in a van down by the river. Rather, think about your material needs in life. Then find a way to meet those without surrendering your freedom along the way.

You won’t be able to put the possessions you amass into a moving van attached to your hearse, so consider carefully what you accumulate in life. Is the monetary expense really worth it in the long run or are there other veins of wealth you would prefer to tap into?

Leading Solely for Reward Is not Honorable

If you are in your line of work solely for the financial return, you will find if you haven’t already it is a long and sordid road to travel. Doctors Without Borders is a prime example of leadership and philanthropy that is not motivated by financial reward. This not-for-profit organization that was started in 1971 by a group of French doctors has a mandate of providing “emergency aid to victims of armed conflict, epidemics, and natural and man-made disasters, and to others who lack health care due to social or geographical isolation." (For more information visit www.doctorswithoutborders.org) Here is a group of some 2,500 doctors, nurses, administrators, logistical experts, and water/sanitation engineers who volunteer to help those in need worldwide.

This exceptional group of professionals provides their services for the betterment of humankind. Whether they are in Hebron or Gaza providing psychological support to victims of war or in South Africa providing AIDS treatment and education, these people act heroically by making an effort to give freely to communities and people in crisis. By filling their coffers with meaningful human interaction they are heroic. By doing their job for the love of the job they are heroic. And the truly heroic are honorable. Members of Doctors Without Borders demonstrate that in an unprecedented way that can inspire you and I to figure out how we can do what we do, heroically.

We don’t need to travel to offer our services and make a huge difference locally. Consider your job or a hobby and think about how you can do it for the betterment of your community. For example, as a hair stylist you can organize with others to do a fundraiser for cancer treatment and offer haircuts at the local shopping mall. As a small-business person you can annually gather stationary supplies from other small businesses and donate them to a local school. Think nontraditionally about what you do and how you can make a difference in the lives of others. Being motivated in our jobs to make a difference in the lives of others rather than solely for monetary gain will impart meaning into our personal and professional lives and the lives of others, creating an intangible wealth that cannot be towed in the biggest U-Haul.

The Best Legacy Is the Respect of Others

Walt Disney was a great leader in his industry, and he surely never expected to attach a U-Haul to his hearse. Yes, he left a fortune, but I want to focus on another, more important aspect of his legacy. The greatest legacy he left was the respect of the people that his work touched – you and me.

Do you own some Disney paraphernalia, such as a pair of Mickey Mouse ears? Have you ever watched Cinderella or 101 Dalmatians? Do you have a favorite of the seven dwarfs? Can you say that you begrudge Walt Disney for how his life’s work has affected your life? I would suspect not. I would imagine that you respect in some way the man behind the Mouse. This respect may be for how he made you feel, what he helped you learn, or as I’m learning now, the peace and joy you receive from watching his work entertain your children.

The best legacy is respect from others for how you have affected their lives. This starts at home with your partner, your children, and your extended family. For when you die, and you take that ride in the hearse (without the U-Haul) the way that people remember you will be what lingers as your legacy. To have your children remember you as the father who made it to all their soccer games or the mother who you regaled with stories of your days at school, this is the cherished legacy that we leave. If you are a father, mother, or partner who is absent from the lives of your family members, your legacy will reflect that, too. Take a moment to think about your own family. If you had a mom or dad who left you a great legacy, then continue it. If you had a mom or dad who left a legacy you found wanting, then change it for your own kids. Step to higher ground and leave for your family, friends, and co-workers a legacy to remember you by – a legacy as great as the man’s behind the Mouse can be yours in the eyes of your loved ones.

The basic ingredients to such a legacy include: sincerity, honesty, caring, and commitment. Start, if you haven’t already, to add these elements to your relationships with others. Give them time and support that they will hold dear. Truly, you are the greatest gift that you can offer, and given freely, it will far out live you.

Now I ask you, with these unadorned treasures in lifeFree Web Content, does a wallet overflowing with money really matter? Invest yourself in simple things for true freedom.

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Motivation
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