The key to having money (having wealth) in life is to create a strong personal net worth. Your personal net worth is the difference between the value of the assets you own minus the debts you owe. It’s a reflection of how well you are creating real financial value in your life.
If you have $1 million in assets and no debt, your net worth is $1 million.
If you have $1 million in assets and $750,000 of debt, your net worth is $250,000.
What level of personal net worth would provide you with peace of mind and a sense of financial security as you get older? $1 million? $5 million? $10 million? More?
Do you have a goal for what you would like your personal net worth to grow to over the next two, five, ten years?
Your personal net worth goals are not something that you have to think about every day. It’s more of an aspirational goal to think through, write down, and reflect on from time to time as you evaluate your progress in building financial security for yourself and for your family.
Setting goals for your personal net worth
Earl Nightingale, co-founder of the Nightingale Conant Corporation and author of the audio program Lead the Field, defines success like this:
"Success is the progressive realization of a worthy goal.”
I love this definition of success because it reminds us that success is about the “journey toward the goal” more than the actual achievement of the goal.
The same is true when it comes to your financial goals.
Nightingale goes on to say:
“We're successful as long as we're working towards something we want to bring about in our lives.”
Setting “worthy goals” for your personal net worth and monitoring your progress toward your goal, is fun and engaging. It is a big part of what success is all about: “the progressive realization of a worthy goal.”
It almost doesn’t matter whether you hit your precise goal or not. It’s the process of thinking about your personal net worth goals, and working to achieve those goals, that leads to progress. And progress by itself leads you to success.
Making money vs. having money
For me, working towards creating a healthy personal net worth has always been important. The idea that I would make good money throughout my career but have very little of it saved and invested over time always sounded depressing to me.
Put another way: having money has always been an important goal for me.
Which brings up an important point. There is a difference between making money and having money. Here is a quote from a great book, The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley, Ph.D., & William D. Danko, Ph.D.:
“Most people have it all wrong about wealth in America. Wealth is not the same as income. If you make a good income each year and spend it all, you are not getting wealthier. You are just living high. Wealth is what you accumulate, not what you spend.”
Creating wealth, creating a healthy personal net worth, requires you to spend less than you earn and invest the difference wisely over time, so it grows.
Growing a strong personal net worth fosters peace of mind, freedom, independence, security, confidence, provides the ability to help others, and it can be a great antidote to stress.
Not to mention that it is the secret to creating happiness. (Well, maybe that is a bit of an overstatement. The person with a $10 million dollar net worth isn’t that much happier than the person with a $9 million dollar net worth.)
What is your personal net worth right now?
A good first step toward setting targets, setting goals, for your personal net worth is to jot down what your personal net worth is today. Then take a couple minutes to ponder what your net worth goals are (or should be).
Remember: the goal of having money is to create a strong personal net worth that will allow you to take good care of yourself and your family in the years to come.
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