Living the NI Life: Balance

By Greg Garvan

I recently googled “natural balance” and was surprised that what came back in return was a multitude of pet food sites!  Not exactly what I was on my mind: I was pondering the “needs versus wants,” the ‘”play versus work,” the “make time versus make money,” the “save versus spend” – all these seesaws, as we do our best to create balance among our many personal values.  These themes about the balance we strive for in our lives are always close to the surface for Natural Investments/NI folks.

I wonder how different our NI people are, in terms of seeking to prioritize balance in their lives? When we speak with clients about what’s important to them, and ask what they want from their lives, their money, their assets, I know I often hear in reply that what they really want is more time for the simpler pleasures in their life.  I suspect for many of us, having more time is more important than having more money.  I’m sure you’ve heard the old saw that “no one ever wound up on their deathbed saying ‘Gee, I wish I had spent more time at the office’.”  No, clearly for most all of us, we’d rather have had time with family, loved ones, and friends.  In 2013, how hard is it to balance this? 

Living intentionally takes real dedication, but is essential for those of us who want to create balance in our lives.  I’m sometimes surprised at how many of you 

seem to find it quite natural to live with intention and focus.  You’ve found ways to create more time in your life, by often living with less material goods; you’ve balanced the joy and flavor of fresh local foods with the extra costs of imported foods you may also value; you have chosen work that gives you more control over your time, while perhaps earning less; you have chosen to take care of other family members or friends, because you value other people in your life more than work, work, working.  And yet, such balance isn’t always as easy to maintain as it may appear, and for many of our clients, keeping one’s head above the water, so as to make clear choices of direction, remains difficult.  Mainstream culture continues to encourage us to be “material girls,” to keep spending our finite financial resources as we turn to food or alcohol or our screens to help us “forget” our problems.  None of this is helpful for trying to find balance in one’s life. 

So, how might we use our money to give us more balance in our lives?  I know some of you have chosen to earn less for a year or two, so you can spend more time with a young baby/child, or an elderly family member.  I know many of you have used your savings as a way of investing in your own life dreams and values, starting socially sustainable businesses or creating a home that nourishes your soul and your relationships while having a modest energy footprint.  I know many of you use your assets as a tool for making a difference in your world, both sending money to worthy causes and investing time and money in your local communities. 

Balancing choices in life is what we think the Natural Investments world is all about; it’s why you’ve chosen to look for sustainable and socially responsible investments and to encourage efforts at shareholder activism!  It’s a counter-balance to the prevailing messages of corporate greed and social inequality, and we want to continue to support you in your balancing act.  Are there any examples from your world that you’d be willing to share with others? Drop me a note and I’ll try to share some of your thoughts future articles. 

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Greg Garvan

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