When We Should Re-Examine Our Personal Rules

Posted by: Joseph Kuo | February 11, 2022

It’s a great thing when we’ve accomplished success and wealth, and taking a breath to double-check if we need to update our personal rules going forward will ultimately enable us to use our new wealth to gain the most happiness and well-being.

We all live our lives under various sets of rules. There are written rules we follow when we interact with others in society. Within ourselves, these personal rules are better known as our values, beliefs, philosophies, which we follow so that we behave and present ourselves to others in a certain way. Our personal values also help define what we want in life and our priorities.

Let’s look at one topic: wealth. What does it mean to be wealthy? Is it a specific number, or a feeling of comfort and safety? What needs to happen in order for me to feel that way? When do I have enough wealth?

To help find answers to these questions, we first need clarity about our personal rules and how we arrived at those rules. Then we can drill down and assess the rules to decide whether each is still relevant, or whether a new or updated rule would work better as our lives are updated.

[Note: In order to protect the privacy of my clients, the following examples are composite and do not depict any one specific individual.]

The Tech Millionaire Who Wouldn’t Slow Down

One example of a personal rule is our comfort level with respect to risk. We may choose to take more risk professionally by starting our own business, or working for a startup in order to create more wealth more quickly. But once we’ve achieved success via profit, IPO, or exit, that’s a great opportunity to assess to see if we’ve truly accomplished our goal, and if so, if we still need to maintain that high level of risk.

One of my clients is a very talented engineer who joined a startup as its third employee and eventually rose to become Chief Technical Officer. With his help, the company has defied the odds and made it to IPO, which made him instantly wealthy on paper. However, he chose to keep all of his shares in the company because he still personally believed that the company share price would continue to climb. When the share price rose to 1000% of his strike price, I advised him to sell some of his shares to diversify, but he still wanted to let it all ride. His point was that his prior approach was what got him to success, and so why fix something that wasn’t broken?

It would be easy to judge this behavior as greedy or reckless. But greed and recklessness are generally not values or goals. The reason one might seem greedy on the outside might actually be hidden within their personal rules about what it takes to be successful and to have peace of mind.There’s also the matter of how deeply he was emotionally invested as someone who had been personally involved in the company’s growth.

Ultimately, I worked with this client to help discover his whys and goals. Then we worked together to craft an investment strategy that would protect what he had accomplished and at the same time keep a healthy amount of “skin in the game” for him.

The Generous Family Attorney

Another example: what does it mean to be a good person? What are the behaviors and beliefs that define a good person in the eyes of the people he cares about? If someone has a lot of money and holds on to it, will his friends and family think he is insensitive or selfish?

One client is a very successful attorney. He was the first in his extended family to become a lawyer, and felt that now that he was in a position to help his family, he would do it as much as possible. He wanted to give back to the family who had supported him and he also didn’t want his relatives to think he was now too good for them. After 10 years of giving, he suddenly realized that he had funded the college educations of many nieces and nephews, but had saved no money for his own daughter’s tuition and very little money for his own retirement.

In many cases, it’s not so much that beliefs and values need to change, but merely their application. Being generous and helping family is a good thing, but we also don’t want to neglect ourselves and our children.

Significant Others

We all have our own experiences that shape our personal beliefs. But even though we might share compatible beliefs with our significant others, we may still not agree because how we formed our beliefs has shaped our perspectives .

The reality is that there are many different strategies that can work, but because of our individual perspectives we feel emotionally tied to one particular approach..

What I have learned from couples is that most do have similar needs or values. The conflict comes because they’ve come to mix the “how” in with the “what”. In this case, if we think we’ve told the other person what we want, but then see that they are doing things that jeopardizes our own version of the vision, including the “how”, it can feel like that our partner is against our vision. When I work with couples, I’ve found that letting both sides slowly talk through things can help them realize that ultimately, they do actually agree on the what, but may differ on how. Then we can work on synchronizing the “how” portion.


As we accomplish success and abundance, it’s easy to do things the same way we’ve been doing, because the natural tendency is to not change what made us successful. Also, we’re not always consciously aware of our own personal rules. Thus, we may react impulsively without thinking things through. To add to the complexity, other people have their own internal rules as well.

It’s a great thing when we’ve accomplished success and wealth, and taking a breath to double-check if we need to make any updates going forward will ultimately enable us to use our new wealth to gain the most happiness and well-being.

If you have any questions, contact me via email at joseph@abundancewp.com, or schedule a meeting by clicking the button below:

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