The wire transfer from the sale of our company went through in November 2006. The security I desired, however, came several years later.
I was sitting in my office, which I had never bothered to decorate because I was so focused on my long-term happiness that I denied many short-term pleasures. Nine months of deal documents, lawyers, accountants, due diligence and valuation models all led to this moment, in my undecorated office with my business partner and my brother. I logged into our company’s checking account and there it was: the wire transfer from the sale in one lump sum.
In my mind I had always imagined champagne pouring, loud celebratory cheers down the hallways and tears of joy. That was not what happened. In fact, nothing happened. Nothing. Not a word was spoken. The room was completely still. I think I eventually said, “Wow, that is crazy” to break the silence.
Why would the single greatest moment in our lives lack emotion?
Let me back up. At 24 I set out with my brother to create a new model in healthcare using best practices from our father’s life’s work in his field. We accomplished everything we set out to do: create a national database, set the gold standard in the field, acquire customers in every state. In fact, we were even profitable, unlike many companies who sold a dream during the dot-com bubble.
The truth is, in addition to my desire to create an amazing company, I also set out to make a ton of money before the age of 30. Why? My belief was that money would buy me freedom to pursue any goal.
The One Thing Money Can’t Buy
Have you ever heard that money cannot buy happiness? That’s a lie. All that money bought me a lot of happiness: a new car, home, clothes, and some pretty amazing vacations. I was happy with all my new luxury items.
So what happened in my office? What was missing? Why didn’t I feel as good as I had expected to?
Simple. I wanted to feel something that money cannot buy: safety. If I didn’t have to worry about money, then I could feel a sense of certainty that I was OK and would continue to be OK.
I was still exactly the same person with the same fears, only in a prettier car. I started to realize that the feeling of security cannot come from the external world. It can only come from within — a lesson I had to learn.
How to Feel Wealthy in Every Moment
All these possessions did not create a sense of being self-possessed. I had sold the company two years earlier and was nearing the end of my two-year contract with the company that had purchased us. Despite the financial freedom, I felt less free than ever.
I had confused the freedom and safety that financial security brings through things with the feeling of freedom and safety that comes from within. How do you create that feeling within when you have outsourced your power to the external world?
Money is a tool. It is an opportunity to create, contribute or invest into ideas.
Freedom and security come from discovering your genius. The root of the word genius comes from following one’s innate nature. Now we think of it in terms of exceptional skill over another’s, but that is not the true meaning of the word.
I started with the wrong goal. I wanted financial freedom to create the security in my life, not realizing that security in the world comes from somewhere else.
My suggestion is to start with your particular genius, the thing you are exceptional at, and then find out where it can be best used. You will never run out of ideas when you are following your path and others will benefit. Ironically, when you give from this place, your genius, the more you will feel that deep sense of safety because you are doing what you are meant to do.
I recently finished my first book. This time I sat down in a beautiful room in front of a fireplace and dialed my editor on Skype. We opened a bottle of Moscato (my preferred version of a bubbly wine) and we celebrated with loud cheers, laughter and, most importantly, a deep sense of joy.
Laura Coe is an entrepreneur, author, and certified coach working to help you find fulfillment one day at a time through daily emotional workout routines, nutritional thoughts and other tools. Laura co-founded Litholink Corporation, a healthcare company serving over 350,000 patients per month nationally. When Litholink sold to a Fortune 500 company, she left corporate America to pursue lifelong passions. Now she devotes her energy toward writing and coaching, helping others implement spiritual teachings in their everyday lives. Her first book, Emotional Obesity, was recently published.
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