In every financial decision you face, never forget to ask "why". Then ask it again, and again, and again. Just like a little kid that repeatedly asks, "But why, mommy?"
This simple one-word question needs be the repeated foundation of our financial plan if we want to build a life that is consistent with our deeply held values and interests. Without it, we invariably default to decisions that are dictated by those around us, or are based on false beliefs about what will truly make us happy.
Notice I said "deeply" held values and interests. These are the things we really want in life, but rarely think about as we make decisions. But if we take the time to discover or rediscover these values, then the decisions we need to make become crystal clear.
Surface goals are easy -- retire at 65, or save a few million dollars, or build a house in the country. But when we then ask "why" a few times, we eventually find the values behind these goals, such as time with family, or security, or freedom to volunteer, or a new career path, or time for sunsets.
Here's the best part. With a little creativity, the underlying values are more quickly and easily achieved than the surface goals we thought we wanted. In fact, sometimes reaching for the surface goals actually impedes realizing our deeply held values!
Sometimes little kids ask better questions than we do. So ask "why", then ask it again, and again, and again. At the end of the question, I think you'll find the life you want to build and the resources you need to build it.