Financial Planning Is Important. But There Is More To Happiness Than Money

Money Alone Won't Make Us Happy. We Need Core Pursuits- Or "Hobbies On Steroids"

mikkelwilliam/E+/Getty Images

As you think about your life and what makes you a well-rounded, happy person, I would be surprised if money is the only thing that comes to mind.  While I would never downplay the importance of being financially secure and how important it is to our psyche, I am simply a firm believer that we need to incorporate a number of diverse interests and activities in our lives in order to be truly happy.  I define these interests and activities as “core pursuits.” This line of thinking is applicable to people of all ages and in particular those who are heading into their retirement years.

 

Core Pursuits

Core pursuits are what I like to refer to as “hobbies on steroids.”  These are not things that you just dabble in, they are things that drive and fulfill you.  You don’t need a million of them, but I do believe you need at least three.   A core pursuit should help define you, bringing into focus the things that matter most.  You do it often, and you think about it even more.  As importantly, core pursuits will keep you younger than your years.  It’s one of the fundamentals of staying engaged and feeling youthful.

What Are Some Examples Of Core Pursuits?

Core pursuits can come in a number of different forms.  A few great examples are:

Physical activity- It’s no surprise to anyone that exercise provides health benefits, both physically and mentally.  Choose a sport that you love or some other kind of physical activity, and make it a priority.  I highly suggest choosing a sport or activity that you can with others, as being social also adds a lot to our happiness.

You can compete with yourself.  It’s a mixture of exercise, community, and self-improvement.

Try one of these: Walk, jog, hike, bike, play tennis, do Pilates, do yoga, golf, swim, sign up for a charity walk or run, take a spinning class, join a boot camp, join a gym, train a half-marathon/marathon/triathlon, do CrossFit, try Orangetheory Fitness, or take a cardio barre class.

Volunteer- People that volunteer feels like they are truly accomplishing something and it gives them an immense sense of satisfaction.  The happiest couples and individuals I work with a beam from ear to ear when they talk about the charities they support.

Just be social- A core pursuit can be the mere act of being social.  A sense of being social and involved with the community is very important to my happiness, and whether you know it or not, it’s important to yours. 

Core Pursuits Questionnaire

This short exercise will help you start thinking about what your own set of core pursuits might look like. Print this list of questions off or make some notes for yourself.  You may find some things out about yourself that you didn’t even realize.

How many vacations would you like to take each year?

___________________________________________________________________________

Where would you like to travel?  What places do you want to see?  (Could include both exotic locales and local treasures.)

____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

What are some activities you’d like to get involved in?

  Activities you’d like to get more involved in?

____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

What have you been putting off or letting slip that you would like to change, starting this year- and especially during your retirement years?  Spending more time with friends, reconnecting with old acquaintances, taking a women’s trip, taking a guys’ trip, enjoying more time with family?  Devoting more time to exercise or eating healthier?

____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

Are there sports or activities you’re interested in playing or learning? 

____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

What communities would you like to be more involved in?

____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

What are some nonprofits and organizations where you might like to volunteer?

____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

There are no right or wrong answers here- this list of questions is just to help you start thinking.  Remember, your money is not going to make you happy, but your money does have the ability to provide the framework for the life you want to live.

Wes Moss is the Chief Investment Strategist at the financial planning firms Capital Investment Advisors and Wela. He is also the host of the Money Matters radio show on WSB Radio, and a host of the TV show Atlanta Tech Edge on Atlanta’s NBC affiliate. In 2014, he was named one of America’s top 1,200 financial advisors by Barron’s Magazine. He is the author of several books including his most recent, You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think  - The 5 Money Secrets of the Happiest Retirees, which has been one of Amazon’s best-selling retirement books in 2014.