In my last week’s article, I wrote about what skills were necessary to survive in life. Looking back, I am not 100% certain that having the knowledge or being educated on these skills are sufficient. After all, it’s one thing to be book-smart, and another to be street-smart.
When I was in my mid 20s, I had friends asking me what they should do with their money. Advice was given, and I even ran a workshop on managing finances that covered savings and investment. Fast forward 10 years, the results vary greatly. Some thrived, while nothing much changed for others. I can only conclude that knowledge itself is not sufficient. We can have financial education, and understand it sufficiently to be literate, while not closing the gap and producing results that overcome our inner fears and give us courage to step forth for our dreams. Something is missing in this recipe!
I liken this experience to that of our dieting plans or New Year resolutions. We start with the desire to succeed, equipping ourselves with plans and details of actions to be taken. However, our discipline wanes over time, other things start taking priority and suddenly we just can’t seem to get enough momentum to jump start or stick with it.
We all know we “should” aim to have enough today and also plan for the future. In today’s society, people may also desire to be rich, or able to afford luxuries that others can’t. However as Maslow’s Hierachy would suggest, success goes beyond having money and is about being able to achieve self-fulfilment and potential. I think therefore financial well-being is thus about having the freedom to make choices and feel secure in whatever situation one is in.
Change is the only constant in life. One therefore not only needs to know the what to do in life to manage his/her finances, but also the how to adapt when situations change. As the Life Beyond Grades’ campaign pointed out which I believe is applicable in this instance, to achieve financial well-being goes beyond financial literacy towards also having other factors such as community support, positive attitudes of resiliency etc. These are factors that allow us to apply what we have learnt into the “streets of life” and empower us for well-being.
To quote part of the commentary published in Channel News Asia,
I enjoyed reading the social media stories of ordinary people who carved their own version of success. The common thread behind each story is resilience, tenacity and hard work. It is also likely that someone along the way gave these individuals a helping hand, be it in the form of giving them their first job, or introducing them to people who would, in other words – access.”
The Power of Choice
Between being book smart and street smart also lies the gatekeeper of choice. Who we are today is a culmination of the past and how we were brought up. Preferences on how to behave and respond are ingrained in us, and it may not be easy to go against these preferences even when we know how they impact us. To not change is also a choice. Conversely to transform our lives to achieve well-being, will also start with the self making a conscious choice on how to respond in any situation. After all, we can’t choose what situation we are in or what knowledge we have to learn to survive in life, but we can choose if we want to be empowered to achieve the future we want, then take the steps we know are necessary to get there. It all starts with you!
In the next few weeks, Fundamental Cents will be unpacking a series of thoughts on empowering financial capability in youths. Choose to follow us on FB or drop us an email so that you can discover for yourself on how to achieve financial well-being!