In my years teaching people to be successful, I have seen that people break their lives down into two major parts: wealth-building and the rest of their lives. Having done a lot of reflection on these two topics —wealth and life— I’ve come to some new conclusions about how to perceive the two.
I used to think that there was a significant difference in how we should tackle the two areas. In fact, I thought the two topics should be addressed in almost opposite fashion. You see, wealth-building is just math. Whereas life—life is art. Think back with me to high school. Most of us were required to take math and most of us probably took art as well. Now, think about your final exams in the two areas. Your math paper was graded on hard facts: 10×10 is always 100, 7+7 is always 14, 50-25 is always 25; and so on and so forth). There is always just one answer in math. The answers are hard facts, set in stone. Math is a science. It is formulaic. You can know the outcome before it happens— every time. But what about your final art project? Art is much more subjective. “Beauty,” they say, “is in the eye of the beholder.” There is no one right answer. Think of the different styles of the famous artists: Renoir, Monet, Picasso, Rockwell, Warhol. Different people find different styles beautiful, and that is what makes art, art. So how does this fit with wealth-building and life?
Wealth-building is like math: If you add $1,000 to your retirement account each month and gain 7 percent interest over 20 years, you can know now how much you will have then. It is math. If you buy a rental property for $200,000 now and it increases in value by 3 percent a year, you know exactly how much you will be able to sell it for in 10 years.
The beauty of math is in the knowing. You can work the system, set it on autopilot and the math does the work for you. You know the outcome.
But life—life is art. And that is the beauty of it. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Life, like art, is always changing. Different people provide different colors. When you make a mistake, you can go back, erase it or even paint right over it. You can change the scenery. Life, like art, is ever evolving. What looks good to one person is of no interest to another. That’s what makes life beautiful. So let me ask you: Are you spending more time on your math or your art? Do your math.
Everybody should do their very best at their wealth-building plan so they can take care of themselves and their families. But life is about the art. What does your canvas look like? What kind of picture are you painting? What kind of pot are you creating? What kind of statue are you sculpting? Take your time, make bold strokes, use brilliant colors, and make your life the most beautiful masterpiece you can. Do your math so you can focus on your art.