Are You Running in the Right Direction?

April 7th, 2016 — 5:00am

This article is adapted from Chapter 1 of Investing With Purpose and was originally published on Money Q&A.

Life and work, they ask a lot of you. There’s a lot to be done, and some of it is really hard. Projects stretch your skills, packed days stretch your energy, and difficult people stretch your sanity. Some weeks (most weeks?) feel like marathons with a series of embedded sprints. You get tired, and you have to stop to catch your breath sometimes.

Not to worry though, you are no stranger to hard work. You’re driven, even when it gets tough. You focus your smarts on each problem, and most of the time you work out a solution.

You do your best to manage your money, save for the future, and invest well to grow it. The enthusiasm and perseverance you bring to life and work is admirable, it really is. You have your ups and downs, of course, but you put your heart into it, and engage each day in an earnest pursuit of… well, hmm.

Illustration by Ian Riley

Illustration by Ian Riley

It’s for success right? Financial security, that is important. Maybe it’s about earning respect, and a sense of accomplishment? Being able to go to bed at night feeling like things are going ok, people see you and treat you well, and life is just kinda, working?

Ok, so life gets a little murky, even for us driven types. It’s hard to discover and remember why we are doing all of this in the first place.

What’s more, life changes and unfolds in surprising ways. We find out we have interests, strengths, potential we didn’t know about before. Windows of opportunity close (sometimes slam quite rudely) and others crack open. What we want changes. A clear sense of direction doesn’t come easily in the first place, let alone update itself automatically.

You can navigate life with direction and purpose. It’s possible, and it’s essential. A crystal ball of insight into the future is not required.

Courage, that is the thing. Courage to open up big questions and let them bother you with their annoying tendency to hover around unanswered. Courage to spend time in the part of you where you keep your dreams.

What do you really want, more than anything in the world? What are you telling yourself you will get around to, someday? What is your gift to the world, the difference you are aching to make?

Who matters most to you? And if you could tell all your raucous self-doubts to just zip it for one minute, what voices of aspiration would step cautiously out of the shadows and quietly speak their stories of possibility into the microphone?

Such questions are maddening to some, and deep-down-terrifying to all of us. Lean in. Explore the answers to those questions, bravely and persistently. Bring your best mentors and best friends into the fray with you. Keep exploring, keep pushing back the murky fog, as life twists and turns.

Reflect before you race. Then go. Infuse the answers to those questions into all your decisions. Enter yourself in the races that lead to what you want most. Risk wanting things, important things, that you might not get. Run. Run hard. Manage, save, and invest money with all the savvy you can, and use it to power what matters most to you.

There’s nothing more thrilling than crossing finish lines you barely dared to dream about. Invest each hour and each dollar intentionally, with your chosen direction and driving purpose in mind.

What you want is more attainable than it seems. Courage, that is the thing. Invest well.