Changing Values, Changing Priorities

Over the course of one’s life, there are a number of events that occur that change one’s value structure significantly. Marriage can be one. Having children almost always is one. Figuring out financial independence is often one.

These events often alter our day-to-day life and our overall life plans. For example, financial independence has removed many of the consumer-oriented stops I would make on a regular basis and also left me feeling much better over the long haul about my money.

This observation leads me to a recent comment by Writer’s Coin on a post about money and stress:

’m curious about this line: “Without [my wife and children], I would have likely made the leap to being a full time writer by now – in fact, I’d probably be living in a different part of the United States.”

How does your wife feel about that statement?

My wife knows and understands that statement because she knows it’s a reflection of the difference in priorities in my life due to her and that of my children. I love my wife and children very much. They are the backbone of my life right now, and few things bring me more fundamental joy than spending time with them.

However, if they were not a part of my life, I do know I would make some significantly different life choices. I would likely be living in another state, I would likely be living alone, and I would likely be shooting for a career as a writer.

Why am I not following that dream right now? It’s a matter of priorities. My dreams right now involve growing old in a financially secure situation with my wife. It involves having a stable home for my children to grow up in without any real worries about security, and ensuring that I can help them get a good financial start in life.

To me, these priorities are more important than living out a Walden-like dream about writing. Maybe I’ll get a chance to try it if the right opportunity comes along that provides the stability I need to follow it, but Walden isn’t a top priority for my life right now.

What’s the point? The point is knowing what your current priorities are and separating them from dreams or priorities from other times in your life keeps you from making poor financial and personal choices. If you realize that your child is your priority, it’s a lot easier to not make an overly risky career move than if you view some definition of success as your priority. It’s just a matter of reflecting on yourself – and your current situation – to distinguish between the two.

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