Aligning Money With What We Truly Care About
“The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving.” -Oliver Wendell Holmes
Ken Rouse , author of Putting Money in Its Place, ( has a simple exercise that helps people determine what they value most in life. Start by reviewing this list of 15 values:

  1. Achievement
  2. Adventure
  3. Aesthetics and culture
  4. Authority/Power
  5. Financial security
    Married couple renews their vows

    Married couple renews their vows (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  6. Friendship/Love
  7. Health
  8. Independence
  9. Integrity
  10. Philanthropy
  11. Recreation
  12. Service
  13. Spiritual growth
  14. Wisdom
  15. Work


Cross off 10 of the values, and keep the five most important to you. Then rank those five in order of importance. Look at your list and answer this question: Are you living your life and using your money in sync with your values? If you are married, ask your spouse to do the same exercise independently, and then compare your answers.
Passion makes life worth living. It is the drive to accomplish something worthwhile, the yearning to be part of something bigger than ourselves, the quest to find meaning in our lives. And it is the odyssey of sacrifice to finally accomplish it.

Surveys have found that people regret what they didn’t do more often than what they did. And when people express remorse about having done something wrong, it was usually what I call a “life buster,” one of those decisions that can greatly compromise your life.
Serious life regrets include marrying someone you knew in your heart wasn’t right for you, getting hooked on drugs, or breaking the law. You can recover from these, but you will lament the spiritual death and wasted opportunities along the way. A good rule of thumb is always to ask, “What’s the worst that could happen?” If it might destroy your life, hesitancy is indeed a virtue.
Regrets about things we didn’t do are more subtle but also much more common. Our lives can change course dramatically and serendipitously all because of some small decision on our part. How many times have we heard the story of how a happily married couple met, only to be surprised it almost didn’t happen? If the worst outcome of a decision is a little embarrassment, perhaps the chance is worth taking.
We each long to participate in something significant and realize our greater passions. And that requires foresight, planning, and forgoing our momentary desires. The choices we make each day determine the ones we will have the opportunity to make in the future. Without those hesitant, often stumbling first steps, we can’t even begin the journey. Often the first step is the hardest.
Voicing what values we care most about can be scary. Beginning to act on our ideas can feel overwhelming. But courage isn’t a lack of fear; it’s action in spite of fear. And our fear may indicate we are on the quest of our lives.
But fortune favors the bold.

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