In this age of consumerism, it’s hard not to get caught up in comparing ourselves to those around us; whether it’s friends, family members, celebrities, or people pretending to be celebrities we are constantly seeing their “successes” (I put this in quotes because not everything shared on social media is legit) and comparing to our own.
Stop. Doing. This.
“How Do I Compare To My Peers?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked early in a new client relationship “Well, how do I compare to peers?” To which my only answer is, “It doesn’t matter.” My response may seem insensitive, but the answer they are searching for is one I cannot give. There is no grade for the amount of savings you have relative to other people. There is no grade for the amount of debt you have relative to other people. There is no grade for starting the planning process sooner or later relative to other people.
There is an answer though…I can answer how they are doing relative to their GOALS.
Very few of us have the same goals, which is why comparing your status to anyone else’s is pointless. Instead of looking to others for a benchmark, look to your own goals and the progress you are making toward them. If you’re not sure of your progress, set an appointment with a financial advisor, discuss your goals and priorities, listen to the advisor’s analysis and recommendations, and implement the plan to begin making measurable progress.
Once you have defined your goals (think beyond the stereotypical retirement and college goals), refer to your plan anytime you begin to revert back to using your social network as a measuring stick for your success.
Success should be defined by the progress you are making toward YOUR goals–creating the life you want, not what anyone else is doing.
It’s Not Just Finance
Comparing ourselves to others is not confined to our finances; it might be even worse when it comes to our professional lives, especially if you happen to be in the financial services field. I can only speak from the perspective of a financial advisor, so this may not be true for everyone, but there are so many talented and great advisors it’s very easy to get caught up with chasing another firm’s AUM (assets under management), advisors’ content production, or accolades.
While I’d like to think I am immune to comparing the progress of RLSWM and myself as an advisor to my friends and peers in the profession, I’m not. And as my network of peers continues to grow (which I am so grateful for), the comparisons become harder to avoid.
The comparison game gets the best of us…the key is to refocus quickly.
If the benchmark for personal finance is our personal financial plan and our progress toward our goals, then professionally (for financial advisors) the benchmark should be our clients–the level of service we provide, the quality of planning provided, and the relationships we develop. We are not defined by the number of clients we serve, the number of assets we manage, or amount of content we produce–there might be awards and lists that suggest these numbers mean something, but they don’t.
Assuming your business generates the income you need to provide for your family, your clients and their respect is really all that matters. And I’ll let you in on a little secret– if you’re taking care of your clients, doing what’s right, and continuing to improve yourself, everything tends to work out.
Call it karma, the universe, good mojo, or whatever you want, but it’s true. You just have to trust me.
How I Define My Success
Personally: Obviously, my family’s financial plan defines my financial success. Beyond finances, success for me on a personal level centers around Ang, Roman, Leo, and Silas–being the best husband and father I can be is number one and it’s not even close. I want to make them proud of who I am and the impact I am able to have in everything I do. I want to be present and miss as little as possible–I’m willing to constrain my professional life in order to keep the work-life balance tilted toward life, aka family.
My relationships with the rest of my family and friends and maintaining my health are also important measures of success.
Professionally: It’s all about my clients; while I spend a lot of my free time creating content, I will only do so as long as it doesn’t impact my relationships with my clients. In my professional life, my clients are my family and just like I want to make Ang and the boys proud, I want to make my clients glad they decided to work with me. That’s all that matters and that only happens if I do a good job.
When I catch myself comparing RLSWM to other firms or accolades my friends receive, I bring myself back to my clients. If everything is good with them, the outside distractions aren’t important.
Now, I say it’s all about my clients, but I also want to make an impact on the financial services profession by helping to educate the public, encourage and support other advisors, and contribute to the overall advancement of my profession–these goals find their way into my definition of professional success, but they are secondary factors.
Dwyane Wade’s Farewell Tour
You might have seen this video shared. If not, first get some tissues–if you don’t need them, there’s something wrong with you.
There are two quotes from Dwyane’s mother that stuck out to me:
- “You are royal in everybody’s life that you’ve touched.”
- “You are bigger than basketball.”
I’ll never have a farewell tour, nor will I trade jersey’s with other financial advisors, but if I can leave a legacy like Dwyane Wade, then I will be successful in everything I’ve done.
Now that you’ve dried your eyes, let me ask you one thing…how do you define your success?
Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog should be considered advice, or recommendations. If you have questions pertaining to your individual situation you should consult your financial advisor. For all of the disclaimers, please see my disclaimers page.