#SWAAYthenarrative

Holistic Wealth: Five Reasons All Women Should Develop Their Own Financial Identity

5 Min Read
Finance

Holistic wealth is about creating the circumstances in your life that allows you to be resilient and resourceful. I love these two words –– because they embody what I want for all women –– the ability to bounce back from life-altering setbacks and the ability to create and leverage resources to be financially independent. In my new book Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness, there's a whole section of the book filled with advice on how to achieve financial freedom.

Financial independence is one of the core concepts of living a holistically wealthy life. There are several strategies to get you to a place where you have enough income to pay your living expenses for the rest of your life without having to work full time. Whether this means retiring by the age of 40, or taking a more traditional route, building your financial portfolio depends on your financial identity. Here's an excerpt from the book:

A well-planned future also starts with developing your own financial identity. One way to do this is through financial literacy. Improving your financial literacy is also the greatest stimulant of wealth. Many of us make our first large purchase with a spouse or significant other. The first house, the first car, the wedding and honeymoon — these are all expenses tied to our expansionary years. We therefore transition into adulthood not having gained a full sense of our own personal financial identity. For instance, what is my investment identity? What are the things I will splurge on versus save on? This can also be tied to our values and mission in life. It is highly individual.
Each of us should have a financial identity — one that is distinct and separate from our spouse's or parents'. If you find yourself always wondering what your friends or parents think about the way you spend or invest, then it's an indication that you haven't fully figured out your financial identity. It's impossible to design a well-planned future without a proper financial identity — we end up living our lives in the footsteps of others—and possibly making the same money mistakes.

Excerpt from Holistic Wealth: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity and Happiness. Copyright @Keisha Blair.

Book cover reading: "Holistic Health: 32 Life Lessons to Help You Find Purpose, Prosperity, and Happiness" by Keisha Blair. Holistic Wealth Book coverPhoto Courtesy of Keisha Blair

There are a few things you should be doing today that can help you rebound from setbacks in your future. Get a life insurance policy, plan for your retirement, and build an emergency fund, for starters. But your well-planned future also depends on developing your own financial identity. Here are five reasons why all women should develop their own financial identity:

It Relieves Worry And Stress

When you have your own financial identity you don't have to second guess every money move you make and you are confident that you are on the right track. Your own savings philosophy and investment philosophy that's tied to your personal values and mission is a key piece of becoming financially independent. It allows you to assess your goals and your money moves to ensure you're on the path to success.

It Leads To: A Life, Well Lived

This is the title to the opening chapter of my book. Its aptly named for the first chapter, because it's hard to have a life well lived, without having your own financial identity. When your money and spending decisions are constantly influenced by someone else –– your family and friends, a business partner you are on slippery turf. Not only does that railroad your dreams it puts your future in a precarious position.

It Fosters Taking Measured Risks

Taking measured risks is key to achieving a life, well-lived. It is important to take measured risks to achieve certain goals. For instance, the decision to buy that first home or investment property, or even starting that business you've always dreamed of, requires taking measured risks. Achieving your goals also rests on the realization that not taking measured risks, or simply not taking action at all, is detrimental to achieving holistic wealth. Yet in taking measured risks, we look for validation from others to do so. When we don't have a financial identity but look to the crowd for approval –– then taking measured risks becomes less likely, and we bow to the pressure of doing what everyone else is doing –– and not charting an individualized path forward.

It Allows For A Well-planned Future

Planning well means ensuring you have life insurance, adequate emergency savings to last for at least six months, and investments that can yield enough to enable financial resilience.

But your well-planned future also depends on developing your own financial identity.

Everyone should have a good hold on their spending. Developing a budget and building an emergency fund is paramount. Make sure you have life insurance in place. Focus on addressing debt. After that develop a savings plan (both short and long term) and stick to it.

It Prevents A Never-Ending Cycle of Money Mistakes

When you haven't developed your own financial identity you risk making the same money mistakes over and over again. In addition, we end up living our lives in the footsteps of others—and possibly making the same money mistakes. We get stuck in two-step cycle: We make our own money mistakes repeatedly – like getting into unnecessary debt, accumulating things we don't need –– and making the money mistakes others make – spending too much on entertainment or too many night out with friends.

Financial independence is one of the core concepts of living a holistically wealthy life.

In summary, having your own financial identity can save you from a lifetime of disappointment and frustration. It can make the difference between having a fulfilling happy life and constantly living in fear and anxiety about money issues. Most important of all, it can enable you to be financially resilient, and better able to weather the inevitable storms and setbacks that life brings.

This article was originally published October 28, 2019.

4 Min Read
Business

Today, Companies Need to Retain Veteran Employees in Order to Survive and Thrive

In 2020, as the world turned on its axis, we all held on for dear life. Businesses, non-profits, government organizations, and entrepreneurs all braced for a new normal, not sure what it would mean, what would come next, or if we should be excited or terrified.

At the same time that everything is shifting, being put on hold, or expanding, companies have to evaluate current talent needs, empower their teams to work from home, discover new ways to care for clients from a distance, and navigate new levels of uncertainty in this unfamiliar environment. Through it all, civilians are being encouraged to lean into concepts like "resilience" and "courage" and "commitment," sometimes for the first time.

Let's contrast what the business community is going through this year with the common experience of the military. During basic training, officer candidate school, multiple deployments, combat, and reintegration, veterans become well-versed in resilience, courage, and commitment to survive and thrive in completing their mission. Today, veterans working in the civilian sector find the uncertainty, chaos, instability, and fear threading through companies eerily familiar.

These individuals do not leave their passion and sense of service behind when they separate or retire out of the military. Instead, typically veterans continue to find avenues to serve — in their teams, their companies, their communities.

More than ever before, today's employers who employ prior military should focus on why and how to retain them and leverage their talents, experience, and character traits to help lead the company — and the employees — to the other side of uncertainty.

What makes veterans valuable employees

Informed employers recognize that someone with a military background brings certain high-value assets into the civilian sector. Notably, veterans were taught, trained, and grounded in certain principles that make them uniquely valuable to their employers, particularly given the current business environment, including:

Leadership

It's been said that the United States Armed Forces is the greatest leadership institution in the world. The practices, beliefs, values, and dedication of those who serve make them tested leaders even outside of the military. Given the opportunity to lead, a veteran will step forward and assume the role. Asked to respect and support leadership, they comply with that position as well. Leadership is in the veteran's blood and for a company that seeks employees with the confidence and commitment to lead if called upon, a veteran is the ideal choice.

Commitment

The hope is that all employees are committed to their job and give 100% each day. For someone in the military, this is non-negotiable. The success of the mission, and the lives of everyone around them, depend on their commitment to stay the course and perform their job as trained. When the veteran employee takes on a project, it will be completed. When the veteran employee says there's an unsurmountable obstacle, it is so (not an excuse). When a veteran says they're "all in" on an initiative, they will see it through.

Strategy, planning, and improv

Every mission involves strategy, planning, and then improvisation from multiple individuals. On the battlefield, no plan works perfectly, and the service member's ability to flex, pivot, and adapt makes them valuable later, in the civilian sector. Imagine living in countries where you don't speak the language, working alongside troops who come from places you can't find on a map, and having to communicate what needs to get done to ensure everyone's safety. Veterans learned how to set goals, problem-solve challenges, and successfully get results.

Service

With an all-volunteer military for decades now, every man and woman who wore our nation's uniform raised their hand to do so. They chose to serve their country, their fellow Americans, and their leaders. These individuals do not leave their passion and sense of service behind when they separate or retire out of the military. Instead, typically veterans continue to find avenues to serve — in their teams, their companies, their communities.

When companies seek out leaders who will commit to a bigger mission, can think strategically and creatively, and will serve others, they look to veterans.

Best practices in retention of veteran talent

Retention starts at hiring. The experience set out in the interview stage provides insight about how it will be to work and grow within the team at the company. For employers hiring veterans, this is a critical step.

Veterans often tell me that they "look to work for a company that has a set of values I can ascribe to." The topic of values can serve as an opportunity for companies seeking to retain military talent.

The veteran employee may have had a few — or several — jobs since leaving the military. Or this may be their first civilian work experience. In any case, setting expectations and being clear about goals is vital. Remember, veterans are trained to complete a mission and a goal. When an employer clarifies the mission and shows how the veteran employee's role supports and fulfills that mission, the employee can more confidently and successfully complete their work.

Additionally, regular check-ins are helpful with veteran employees. These employees may not be as comfortable asking for help or revealing their weaknesses. When the employer checks in regularly, and shows genuine interest in their happiness, sense of productivity, and overall job satisfaction, the veteran employee learns to be more comfortable asking for help when needed.

The military is a values-driven culture. Service members are instilled with values of loyalty, integrity, service, duty, and honor, to name a few. When they transition out of the military, veterans still seek a commitment to values in their employers. Veterans often tell me that they "look to work for a company that has a set of values I can ascribe to." The topic of values can serve as an opportunity for companies seeking to retain military talent. Make it clear what your values are, how you live and act on those values, and how the veteran's job will promote and support those values. Even work that is less glamorous can be attractive to a veteran if they understand the greater purpose and mission.

Today, veterans working in the civilian sector find the uncertainty, chaos, instability, and fear threading through companies eerily familiar.

Finally, leveraging the strengths and goals of any employee is critical, and particularly so with veterans. If you have an employee who is passionate about service, show them ways to give back — through mentoring, community engagement, volunteerism, etc. If your veteran continues to seek leadership roles, find opportunities for them to contribute at higher levels, even informally. When your veteran employee offers to reframe the team's mission to gain better alignment across the sector, give them some runway to experiment. You have a workforce that is trained and passionate about and skilled in adapting and overcoming. Let them do what they do best.