Grieving the Past to Build the Future

Posted by: Joseph Kuo | January 28, 2022

As we advance in our careers and businesses and find success and wealth, we become different versions of ourselves. However, we often have trouble letting go of our previous selves and our past lives.

As people grow and advance, they invariably change. As we advance in our careers and businesses and find success and wealth, we likewise become different versions of ourselves. However, we often have trouble letting go of our previous selves and our past lives, which can manifest itself in subconscious behaviors that deny our current reality.

There are a few different reasons we have trouble letting go. When we are just starting out in our professional lives, we view ourselves as underdogs, motivated and with a sense of purpose. We have a preconceived  image of the wealthy. While we seek success and the wealth that comes along with it, we don’t want the negative things that come with being wealthy- being out of touch, wasting money, and not doing enough to help the world are just a few of the gentler examples that come to mind.

However, as we get focused on working and living our lives and raising our families, we are slow to realize that we ourselves have gained wealth. While it’s a natural progression and a desired result, once we come to this realization, it can come with an identity struggle as we wonder if we have changed for the better. There’s also the fear that if we change, we risk losing our friends and our relationships with our loved ones will be tested.

Are we going to be out of touch now? What will the friends I grew up with think of me? Doubts like these can lead to behaviors that we don’t notice because we’ve unconsciously suppressed the new reality of our improved financial standing.

I’ve seen a couple of clients react in this way. One client I had was fortunate enough to have his company go IPO. However, when he realized how much money he had after exercising his options, he just parked all of the money in a regular savings account. When I made some investment recommendations to him, he acknowledged the advice but took no action with the money. Eventually he stopped using a financial advisor altogether.

To avoid the “shame” of being “too good” for his family, a second client gave away a significant portion of his money to family members. While very generous and selfless, it created resentment between him and his family members as they came to start relying on the gifts. The gifts also eventually restricted the amount of money he was able to save for his own retirement, as well as for his children’s college educations.

When I work with clients, one of the things we explore is their perception of money and what wealth means to them. I invite them to list what they have enjoyed about their lives as well as what they believe they’ll lose if they were wealthy.

Then, we focus on what is now possible going forward. One important point I am sure to address with the client is that life is going to be different now as compared to before, and that’s a normal part of the process. What we can do to preserve what we value most may change as our life situations change, but it is still possible. We’re leaving something behind, and we’ll never be quite the same again, and that is okay.

As we realize, and then grieve, that our lives have changed and that things won’t be the same, we should also recognize that this change is positive, and we now get a new chance to create from where we now stand. Having wealth doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change your values. It means that you can make a positive impact in more significant ways.

To schedule a free initial consultation, contact me via email at joseph@abundancewp.com, or schedule a meeting by clicking the button below:

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