Benjamin Franklin is one of my favorite "founding fathers." Most people know him as a famous inventor, diplomat, and key contributor to the writing of America's Declaration of Independence. What fewer people know or think about is that Mr. Franklin wasn't always the fascinating man that history now paints him to be. More to he point, he knew it. Because of that fact, at the age of twenty, young Mr. Franklin identified thirteen traits that he felt made one a virtuous man and he then created a system to develop those traits within himself. We are glad he did, because without him, who knows where we'd be today.
Neat story, isn't it? A timely one, too.
In three days, an entirely new year will be upon us. A fresh start in 2018. A new opportunity for each one of us to become a better person. What is that you want to do? To become? Good questions.
I've been holding on to the video below for months and believe it may help you think through those questions a bit. Before you read further, please watch it. You have my word that it is good. Oh, and share this article too!
Powerful message, isn't it? If my wife wasn't cutting onions in the kitchen when watching this video for the first time, I might admit to tearing up a little.
Start with the "Why?"
New Year's resolutions are important. Unfortunately, most people skip a step and go straight to WHAT they want to accomplish. They forget to ponder WHY the WHAT even matters.
That's a mistake. A big one.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. I'm a financial guy and I'm a good one. I believe money's important. So what? A lot of things are important. Getting money is a WHAT thing. The process of getting money is a HOW thing. The real issue is WHY does money matter in the first place. I'm serious.
The WHYs are what motivate us. They are the things that keep us committed.
Of course, wealth is more than money....and you've heard me say that before. For me, the most valuable things I have are my wife and kids. How about you?
When you watched that video, did what was said by those parents....those kids....hit home? It sure did for me.
Frankly, as a society, there are a few other things happening that worry me and they all relate.
I don't like the direction of any of those things. I want to have a close family. I want kids that are proud of themselves. I want them to have a little scar tissue from the work that they do. I want all of that because I want my kids....and maybe my grandchildren one day...to be happy. That's my WHY.
If you feel the same way and you want to do something about it and make it part of your New Year's resolutions, then I have an idea or you.
Goals and the HOW
Now, if you agree with my original premise that kids and family are the real wealth in your life (and neither of those two things need to be blood-related), then you have your WHY. Your goal then is to build tight relationships so that your loved-ones are happy.
The HOW is where the rubber meets the road.
I've been thinking about this one for years and I've concluded that an excellent way to do this is by creating family traditions. In my family, we have Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Halloween as traditions and we do them well. Still, those are big, societal traditions. I'm not quite sure why, but they aren't enough. What are the traditions that could be unique to my family...to your family....that meet the goals we both have?
The answer may lay in building a tradition around shared family charitable giving.
I came to this conclusion by looking at human nature and the things that bring us together. We can be torn apart by politics and religion, but when someone is in trouble, people help one another. If you don't believe me, think about how people helped NYC after 9/11....or New Orleans after Katrina....or Texas after Harvey....or Florida after Irma....or the ALS ice bucket challenge....or your local Relay for Life walk, etc. The list is very long...and that's a wonderful thing.
And here's the interesting part: Most of us get involved in these things as individuals. Our respective husbands or wives aren't often part of the discussion and our kids almost never are. This fact is both the big miss and the huge opportunity!
Just think about the benefits:
In 2018, make a resolution to make charitable giving a family affair. If you need help, let us know. We've created a unique values-based approach - complete with well designed processes and resources - to help families make their vision a reality. Ultimately, a shared family giving approach is important not only because of the help you provide to others, but because of the quality of person you become....and the happiness of the people you rear.
Bruce Wing is the president of Strategic Wealth, LLC, a Registered Investment Adviser located on the north-side of Atlanta.
Entrepreneur, financial guy, husband and father of two great kids.