Have you ever heard a song, tasted a food, or read a book that changed your life on the spot? It’s a pretty dramatic thought. I once heard the story of a famous chef who decided to pursue a career in food the moment he tasted his first oyster. I have a friend who’s a musician that decided to pursue music upon hearing The Beatles’ White Album for the very first time. Not everyone has an epiphany like this. Or maybe if you did, you don’t realize it.
I had an epiphany like this.
Like any young business person, I was focused on building my career. I’ve shared with you in the past my early thoughts on success. Although I was in the financial planning industry and was focused on helping others improve their financial lives, I don’t quite know if I really “got it” yet. I wanted to be the best. And at the time, being the best meant focusing primarily on myself. Things were going fine, but I sensed that I was missing the boat. So I reached out to a friend to try and find some answers. He gave me a book that changed my life. Sorry for the drama. This turned out to be a lot more serious than I had imagined it being when I decided to write the post. I assure you I’m not a loon.
The book was great, but one particular quote in the book changed everything. I found this quote back in 2005. It’s from a book called Smart Talk by Lou Tice. From the moment I read it, my focus changed. I hope it inspires you too.
“What if your purpose for working was to give so much of what you have to cause the life of other people to improve greatly? Suppose that was 75 percent of your intent, and 15 percent was to make a good living, and 10 percent was to feel good yourself.
I can guarantee you this: If you focus with 75 percent of your intent on doing good for others, you will make more money and you will feel better about yourself. If you focus on making money and feeling good first, you won’t do much good for other people”
Prior to reading this quote, my mix was off. I had others’ interests in mind, but my own happiness and financial standing were cranked way up. This quote caused me to start a side project called Pete the Planner. The point was to provide easy-to-swallow financial education to anyone that wanted it. I felt very passionately about this side project while my primary financial planning business was growing. And as you might have guessed, my side project became my primary business.
This post isn’t about me. This post is about the happiness that comes from focusing on other people. If you have a few minutes, take some time to reflect on the quote and examine its impact on your situation. Sometimes when we are trying to get our money-life right, we don’t quite realize that the solution is in our service to others. If you are banging your head against the wall financially, maybe start focusing on others. You may be surprised on the impact this has on your financial life.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.