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cover of Affluence Intelligence

Affluence Intelligence
Earn More, Worry Less, and
Live a Happy and Balanced Life

by Stephen Goldbart and Joan DiFuria

US $25.00 / CAN $29.00

ISBN: 9780738214245

Published by Da Capo Press

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Excerpts from Affluence Intelligence


Page xiii

As the cofounders of the Money, Meaning & Choices Institute, we are well acquainted with the issues of wealth and happiness. In 1999 we coined the phrase “Sudden Wealth Syndrome” to describe the challenges and opportunities faced by people of new wealth, and to our surprise, practically overnight we were overwhelmed by attention from the media, being interviewed on radio and television, and in newspapers and magazines around the world. This was the era when, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Bay Area alone was minting sixty -four new millionaires a day. Yes, this was a moment in American history of what today we might call “radical hubris,” and what others have called “irrational exuberance.” We got attention because we were telling a counterintuitive story: Coming into money did not solve people’s problems or make them happy in an enduring way. In interviews with the media, we were repeatedly confronted with sarcasm and disbelief on the one hand, and real curiosity and excitement on the other.

Most people are convinced that if they have tons of money, they’d be happy. While it is easy to assume that people who have money are happy, the truth about their lives is far more complicated than the size of their bank accounts. In general, the more people make, the more they want—and the more they have, the less joy it brings them.

Page xv

We spent almost two years as the focus of a media frenzy, perhaps because at the very heart of our work is the formula for the twenty -first -century version of the American Dream. While wealth creates problems for some, we have also had the privilege of being on the fascinating journey with those who achieved “the Dream”— who through ingenuity, optimism, timing, smarts, people skills, and sheer persistence obtained what most of us want: money and fulfillment. As we spent more time with the affluent, getting to know who they are and what makes them tick, we arrived at an astonishing discovery: They are made up of the same chemistry and capacities as the rest of us. They are you, and you can be them! So here we are again telling a story that most people will not believe: true affluence can be obtained by anyone; all you need is the courage to honestly face your strengths and vulnerabilities, to be open to change, and to be willing to make use of the Affluence Intelligence strategies found in this book.

Our program is a way for you to become rich that not only brings together the best of your head, heart, and spirit, but also includes personal satisfaction and emotional connection. Is it about more than just money? You bet. Following this program will enable you to have more money, but it will also show you how financial success ultimately rides on something bigger than just your net worth.

Page xvii

But in this book, we will help you make those changes in the easiest and most effective way possible. In Chapter 1, we will give you a better understanding of what Affluence Intelligence is and what it can do for you. Chapters 2 and 3 outline the lifestyle priorities you will be asked to investigate for yourself. We suggest you read each of these chapters carefully, even if you think that they don’t pertain to you. (Resistance can be a powerful signal that, on an unconscious level, you are reacting to something that is actually essential to your development.)

In Chapters 4 and 5, you will learn about the key attitudes and behaviors of Affluence Intelligence and take a quiz to figure out where you stand. Armed with this new knowledge, in Chapters 6 and 7 you will learn about, and assess for yourself, the role of Financial Effectiveness. Granted, this is hard work, but it can transform your life.

Having come this far, you will now delve more deeply into the process and start to create real change for yourself. In Chapter 8, you will learn how to set the “thermostat” of your Affluence Intelligence, and how you may be getting in your own way. In Chapter 9, you will determine your total AIQ (Affluence Intelligence Quotient).

Then, toward the end of the book, you will start to put your new life plan into motion. In Chapter 10 you will create a plan to raise your AI thermostat to where you want it to be. In Chapter 11 you will follow strategies step -by -step for three months, thereby unlocking your Affluence Intelligence and starting to live, perhaps for the first time, according to your full potential. Finally, Chapter 12 will show you how your newly gained skills and mindset can transform your life.

Having Affluence Intelligence means having (and achieving) ambitious goals, living your priorities, and enjoying a greater sense of possibility. It also means enjoying the ride toward financial and personal success.

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CHAPTER 1: Money, Meaning, and Choices

Page 1

Happy and successful people know something that their equally smart, well -educated, but poorer and discontented peers don’t. Our client Brenda, a San Francisco attorney, put it bluntly: “I have a degree from an Ivy League college, and my husband and I work our butts off. We’re smart people, and we’re doing what we believe are all the right things, but we’re always worried and struggling. It’s even more frustrating when I look at Sally, my supervisor, who didn’t go to a top school. She seems to start and end her day happy, has the time to go to daily yoga classes, takes six -week vacations, and makes way more than I do. Somehow she got the prize—and to top it all off she doesn’t seem to have the continuing anxiety that Tom and I have.”

For over a decade at the Money, Meaning & Choices Institute, we have used our senior -level expertise in business and psychology to help people to change their lives—and often those changes include having more money. We have worked to discover the secret ingredients of the twenty -first -century success story. We’re sure you have puzzled over other people’s rise to the top despite resumes and experience that are no better than yours, who may, in fact, have less education and who don’t put in a 24/7 workweek. Despite appearances, they are doing something different from what you are doing. The good news is that you can learn to do it, too.

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Page 3

David was an architect at a prestigious Bay Area firm. He was competent but not brilliant—we suspected he would never make senior partner at his firm, although he had a degree from an Ivy League school and earned an admirable salary. However, he and his wife, Ellie, had cultivated a sumptuous lifestyle that, now that she was no longer working, was just a little out of their reach. They were starting to get into debt. Ellie’s father had always provided for her, and David knew he was expected by both his wife and himself to do the same. David had come to see us about his high level of anxiety, for which his doctor had recently prescribed Xanax. “I lie awake at night imagining that something’s going to happen that will derail me financially,” he told us. Not only anxious, David was adrift. He needed to change something—to find a new direction for both his work and his life.

Howard came from a very different background. He had dropped out of college to work at his father’s business, a home appliance/ electronics store. By the time he was thirty, Howard had expanded the business from one store into three and, by starring in a series of low -budget but popular TV ads, had become a local celebrity. Over the next decade Howard built a chain of popular stores and earned a high income that allowed him and his family to live in comfort—even luxury. Howard had come to see us because he wanted to make sure he provided for his children, but he did not want to spoil them or make them think they did not have to work to support themselves when they reached adulthood. Having spent time working with both David and Howard, we realized that they had both been dealt similar hands. Both were ambitious, hardworking, and had the chance at a good education (although Howard had chosen not to see his through). Each earned an income that most people would envy. But while David was clearly unhappy and struggling, Howard appeared content. He was by no means a financial genius, but he had a belief in his vision and fire in his belly, and he was willing to take several big risks that had paid off very well financially. In contrast, David had achieved some big accomplishments (a degree from a good school, a job with a respected firm), but somehow, as he told us, “I feel that I have gotten stuck and am no longer enjoying my life.” Being stuck meant he wasn’t doing the kind of work that would lead to a promotion and a bigger salary, or at least that is what he feared.

What did Howard have that David didn’t? We felt that the answer to this question held a precious secret just waiting to be discovered and shared. After we discussed the many people we had counseled over the years, we agreed that Howard (and others like him) had something that we decided to call Affluence Intelligence: that seemingly mysterious quality that made some people—often not the smartest, best educated, or most hardworking—able to create rich and fulfilling lives for themselves, to have money, and to be deeply satisfied.

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Page 12

The Affluence Intelligence Program

We have discovered the four key areas necessary to unlock Affluence Intelligence:

  • Priorities: These give direction and energy to your financial and lifestyle choices.
  • Behaviors: These are the ways in which you act that foster or impede your progress in attaining Affluence Intelligence.
  • Attitudes: These are the beliefs and mindset about money and your life, both conscious and unconscious.
  • Financial effectiveness: The capacities of both financial competency and financial ease that enable you to be both capable and secure in your hands-on relationship with money.

Our program starts with an assessment of your strengths and vulnerabilities in these four areas—something that can be mea- sured and quantified, just like your IQ. We call this score your AIQ (Affluence Intelligence Quotient), which shows you exactly where you stand, providing you with the information needed to increase your potential to become more affluent.

When it comes to affluence, we all have a baseline that we consider normal. This is based upon what you believe is true, your personality predispositions, and your social construction of reality. Your baseline is maintained in much the same way as your blood pressure and body temperature is maintained, by regulatory systems that are inside and outside of your direct awareness.

You can think of this method of regulation like a thermostat in your home. If your thermostat is set at 75 degrees and the outside temperature drops, the heater will automatically come on to warm up the room, or, if it gets too hot, the air conditioner will cool it down. The same is true of you.

Fortunately, like a thermostat, your AI quotient can be reset, and that’s what you can do by following our step -by -step program to raise it, thereby unlocking Affluence Intelligence and starting to live, perhaps for the first time, according to your full potential.

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Why Affluence Now?

Page 22

We have just come through the worst recession many of us have seen in our lifetimes, and we are all feeling the pinch these days. Layoffs threaten, foreclosures loom, and credit card balances are sky -high. In times like these, it’s tempting to think that simply having more money will solve all of our problems. So we look for a better job, or we stay at the same job but work extra hours, all the time trying to cut corners and save wherever we can. Instead, we need to approach our financial problems with fresh methods, including accepting the possibility that our way of thinking has more of an effect on our financial life than anything external such as the stock market.

Having more money makes things easier, we’ve always told ourselves. But is this really true? Maybe—and maybe not. The surprising truth—often difficult to accept by people who are struggling to keep their heads above water—is that for those without Affluence Intelligence, money can create as many problems as it solves. Why? Because when they go unexamined, our feelings and beliefs about money are so deeply rooted that they drive our behavior in ways we do not always recognize or understand—affecting our daily financial and lifestyle choices in negative ways. We ask that you keep an open mind while reading this book and going through our process. Change will be required of you, and change is never easy. But harnessing your Affluence Intelligence could be the biggest and best change you make in your life to achieve happiness and security for both yourself and your loved ones. In other words, you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain. So let’s get started.

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Raising Your Personal Dow: Becoming Financially Effective

Page 111

Are you living in a “money fog?” Many of us seem to lack a clear understanding of our money dynamics—how much is coming in, or how much is going out, and what we need for our future security. Some of us would rather not think about money at all, because doing so creates initial discomfort. But living in a fog leaves us stagnant, uncertain, directionless, fearful, and vulnerable to losing our hard -earned cash.

In contrast, people who are financially effective are both competent and secure in their relationship with money. We see this as having the capacities of both financial competency and financial ease. They know the importance of having a money plan, have gained financial literacy, and have found their comfort zone with money. If you want to raise your personal Dow, you will need to raise your financial effectiveness.

Financial competency is about having a money plan and understanding the mechanics of money management. Think of your money as flowing in and out of five buckets: earning, spending, saving, investing, and sharing. A money plan with Affluence Intelligence is based on operating values that you have determined for each of these buckets. Your values should reflect careful thought in which you determine what is a financial need and what is a financial want. The plan will then include rules and guidelines for how you will live your values, for how money will go in and out of each of five buckets. For example, if you value “living within my means,” then your plan would have rules about not spending outside of what you can afford, which may include limitations on use of credit cards and loans. If you value “long -term financial security,” then your plan would include putting aside a percentage of your earnings into savings or investments. (You can get this process started by doing the three -month AI plan outlined later in this book.) Knowing the basics of the marketplace and of money management will give you the core information and tools to help you strategize the most efficient and effective ways to get what you want for yourself.

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Resetting Your AI Thermostat:
Managing Obstacles that Get in Your Way

Page 129

Your Affluence Intelligence Baseline: Understanding How the Thermostat Works

It would be great if you could simply decide to change whatever you wanted and increase your AIQ. But we’re not built that way. Each of us has an inner regulatory mechanism that establishes a baseline for AI. This baseline is what you feel is normal, given your psychology, personal history, and cultural background. This regulatory system, like the autonomic body systems, acts outside of your direct awareness to keep you functioning at a certain level. This level may feel “normal,” but may set your AIQ too low. Ultimately, your baseline affects your AIQ, which then determines your attainment level on the seven factors of AIQ. Psychologists say that we all have what they call a “happiness set point.” A study once showed that people who had been disabled in bad accidents were often angry and depressed directly afterwards. But within eighteen months, they went back to the level of happiness they had before the accident. Those who were naturally happy people went back to being basically happy, and those who were not happy before went back to where they had been as well. For example, your inner regulator may overdetermine how much money you feel comfortable with, or how much joy you will have in relationships, or how much you will love your work. So to change your AIQ, you need to understand the ways in which your inner regulatory system gets in your way or sets your expectations too low. Our program provides you with the tools to make the changes necessary to really get what you want.

Think of your regulatory system operating like the thermostat in your home. Let’s say you set it at 74 degrees. If it gets too cold, the heater kicks on and warms up the house. If it gets too hot, the air conditioning comes on and cools the place down. Because of how your thermostat is set, you can maintain a comfortable temperature in your home at any given time, no matter what’s going on outside—whether there is a heat wave or an arctic blast. If you have a high thermostatic setting (you have healthy self - esteem, financial effectiveness, and feel you deserve wealth) and you lose your money, you will find a way to recoup your losses. If you have a low setting (you have low self -esteem, vulnerability in financial effectiveness, and lack a healthy sense of entitlement), you will find ways (often unconsciously) to lose your money until you return to a level that feels normal for you—your inner regulator has returned you to your baseline. The problem is that your normal baseline may not actually be sufficient, especially if you are not earning enough to cover your needs and wants. “Normal” is simply what is familiar and predictable, even if it actually makes you unhappy, stressed out, and in debt. If your baseline normal is set low, then you cannot “trust your gut instincts,” which may pull you down into your non -affluent comfort zone.

It’s not just money that you can lose—if your affluence thermostat is set too low, you may find ways to get rid of other things that make you happy (such as a loving marriage) to get back to what is familiar (being alone), even while telling others, such as a therapist (and truly believing yourself), that you don’t want the marriage to end.

The fact is that change can be scary, even when that change is for the better. Let’s take as an example our client Dennis, who won the lottery. He was suddenly in a situation that was totally unfamiliar to him, and much to his surprise it did not make him happy. He was not used to having all that wealth, and it made him feel less than enough, because he felt he now had to do something world -changing with his money. He also felt as though he had no direction in his life. So instead of being overjoyed with his new millionaire status, he started feeling anxious and depressed. He started to travel extensively just to get away from the pressure he felt being around people who knew him before he had money. In his work with us, he shared a crucial event that made him see his life differently. His grandmother had recently passed away. After the funeral, he came to us and said, “You know, she was such a simple woman, and she loved life. And I’m a simple person, too. I’m coming back to myself—I’m starting to be happy again because I have gone back to doing the simple things that I love, such as playing soccer, volunteering at a local school, or seeing family and friends. I no longer feel I have to solve the world’s problems just because I have all this money.”

His story, showing how people deal with their discomfort over money, is key: they either take action to raise the setting on their thermostat (a healthy reaction), or they unwittingly lower their financial temperature by blowing through the money (an unhealthy reaction). Fortunately, Dennis was able to think about his relationship with his money in a new way—a way that he could live with comfortably. He raised the setting on his thermostat.

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Determine Your Total Affluence Intelligence Quotient

Page 153

We have been impressed by the high value that our truly affluent clients place on having and following a plan. They are very focused. They use their plan to take action about what comes their way and what happens to them. They are in control of their environment as much as possible (although they also understand that they are never fully in control).

We have been equally struck by how those who have not unlocked their Affluence Intelligence lack a solid, strategic plan. They are far more reactive than proactive, and sometimes they are completely passive. Granted, passivity can sometimes lead to success. Not making a decision and waiting to see what the universe sends you is a certain kind of plan, and has value for some people. You may know people who seem to love not having a plan. They value spontaneity, being “in the flow of what’s happening,” or believing that any given situation will work out if it is meant to work out. If this gives you the affluence you want, then good. But if it does not, and you complain about having no money and being dissatisfied, then it is likely you are using not having a plan as a defense, as an extension of magical thinking and avoidance. Sometimes, albeit rarely, magic seems to happen when we let go of control and “send it off to the universe.” But not having a plan can easily become a way of avoiding the hard work and complex judgments of having plans and executing them.

But most of the affluent we know, while being open to opportunity and whatever the universe may send them, do not rely on that alone, because passively waiting for “something” to change usually results in a very long wait. Instead, they have a concrete plan that is shaped as it evolves and develops over time. Our plan will empower you to unlock your Affluence Intelligence and make use of the same capacities that made our clients both happy and successful. By taking leadership of your own life and working this plan, you will discover your own unique way of living the seven components of Affluence Intelligence. Then, like Howard in Chapter 1, you will have that “special something” that brings a smile to your face, a lightness to your heart, and the recognition of those around you that you have Affluence Intelligence.

Your plan will start by determining your Affluence Intelligence Quotient—the sum of the three parts of the Quiz you have completed in the preceding chapters.

Your total score reflects a synergy of attitudes, behaviors, financial effectiveness, and the ability to live your most important priorities.

Let’s first consider the meaning of this total score.

Your Affluence Intelligence Quotient:

Total Score Part A ______

Total Score Part B ______

Total Score Part C ______

Affluence Intelligence Quotient (AIQ) ______

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Create Your Own Affluence Intelligence Plan
and Turn Up Your Thermnostat

Page 168

Creating Your Three-month Affluence Intelligence Plan

The following steps will build on your Affluence Intelligence quotient, draw on your awareness of what may be holding you back from affluence, and help you to turn up your Affluence Intelligence thermostat to achieve the life you are meant to live.

Step One: List the Areas of your AI Quotient You Want to Change

• Priorities

• Attitudes

• Behaviors

• Financial effectiveness

Start with the results of your Affluence Intelligence quotient test from Chapter 9. Look at your lifestyles priorities chart and make a list of the priorities you want to shift in the next three months, to begin to close the gap, moving you toward your desired priorities. You can list this on a separate piece of paper, or create a document in your computer’s word -processing program. Next, look at your scores on the attitudes and behavior part of the Affluence Intelligence quotient quiz and choose the attitudes and behaviors that you want to strengthen. Then look at your scores on financial competency and financial ease and choose the capacities you want to improve for financial effectiveness.1Making changes in your life is like planning a road trip. You would not get in your car and drive around aimlessly, hoping that by sheer luck you would get where you wanted to go. Instead, you would get out a map and pinpoint your ultimate destination, make a plan as to how you will get there, and only then get in your car and go.

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CHAPTER 12: At the Heart of Affluence

Page 219

Tim was a middle manager for a manufacturing company in Texas. He was a well -respected employee both by those above and below him. Tim worked hard at his job—he didn’t get home most days until 7:30 p.m., and he worked most Saturdays. He was doing very well, and intended to buy a new car and a fishing boat. But in 2008 his company was acquired by a multinational. In 2009, during the heat of the financial downturn, management decided to downsize his department, laying off most of the employees, including Tim.

Tim was stunned. After fifteen years of employment and a golden record, his company had given him three months’ severance and three days to clear his desk. He immediately began a job search, but found nothing available.

We know that our message of thinking big, living your priorities, and trying to achieve affluence may be harder to accept in these difficult times. People are out of work; homes are in foreclosure. People have told us that they have had to learn to move beyond their anxiety about not having money, and push themselves to look at a different side of themselves. They have had to learn to live in a different way. For some, this new life has turned out to be more satisfying than their previous life.

During this difficult period, Tim and his wife reviewed their values. The time off work forced him to look long and hard at what really mattered. They rethought their future as if they were starting life all over again. It was surprisingly easy to know: their priorities were peace and productivity (work) to provide for financial security, not a pot of gold, or more Power. They wanted life in a small to medium -size town, where they knew their neighbors. They wanted a place with decent public schools. They wanted to be within a two - hour drive of their closest relatives. They wanted to live within their means, and stop using credit cards. They wanted a great place to enjoy raising their daughter. They also wanted to live near the mountains, for as Tim said, “I am deeply satisfied when we’re camping or walking in the mountains.”

Tim changed his job search tactics. He began to look for where he wanted to live, rather than for where a job happened to be. He identified six places in the Mountain States. On a visit to a school in one of these towns, Tim noticed a low -level management job on a bulletin board. He applied and got the job. His wife’s work as a nurse was “portable”—she started working in a local hospital. They were making less money, but Tim was home for dinner almost every night, he had his weekends for himself and his family, and he was living within a half -hour drive of the mountains he loved. Tim also started a part -time consulting business, in which his skills at financial management could be helpful to businesses in transition.

For Tim and his family there was an unexpected benefit of this economic catastrophe. He began to drive his life by his core values, rather than by the career ladder of a company. He let go of the relentless “More! More! More!” that characterizes our culture of consumption.

He understood that the quality of his time was fundamental to being truly affluent. So he and his wife made a lifestyle choice in which the amount of money for their needs and wants was directly related to how they wanted to spend their time and raise their daughter. As we have seen hundreds of times leading retreats and family meetings, when your financial life is driven by your core values, and you are willing to work hard and persevere, then chances for success are very high.

We believe it is vital for each of us to gain a deep and abiding trust in our capacities to do what needs to be done. You liberate yourself when you take responsibility for your life and say, “I am going to take myself seriously and I am going to make my life better. I understand that I have the capacity to make important and essential changes in my life, and I am willing to make a solemn commitment. I have faith in my ability to do the work that is required of me, and to meet my commitments every day. I will expand my horizons and do far more than I had ever thought possible.” For some, like Tim, this commitment may be to take on a philosophy of “less is more,” to simplify life, and to deepen the experience of what they love. For others, it may mean moving from less to more, expanding horizons to create a life that is aligned with their most important priorities.

In the last few chapters, we’ve been focused on the details of how you unlock your Affluence Intelligence. Now we want you to step back and look at the big picture of what affluence can mean in your life. Time and time again, we have seen our clients transform themselves. It’s true that when they have increased their AIQs they have made more money, but they also have better relationships, less anxiety, improved health, and a greater sense of joy and possibility. Simply put, you can have a better life, no matter what your skills and strengths, or whatever your challenges and vulnerabilities.

Taking the test and getting your scores was the first step in this journey. Our wish for you is that you will follow through and make the necessary changes, so you can open your eyes to what is possible for you. Take a moment to congratulate yourself on being smart enough to see that your life can be better, and brave enough to take stock of yourself as objectively as you can.

Unlocking Affluence Intelligence means turning the key and opening the door to having freedom—to having a sense of choice and control to create a life that reflects what matters most to you. As you open the door, you will begin to see yourself with a new honesty and clarity. Maybe it won’t be a perfect version of life as you thought it was going to be, but it can certainly be more affluent than it is today. It will be a life in which your actions are better aligned with your intentions, a life in which you are driven by the forces within you that give you personal meaning, purpose, and power.

You may wonder, “Will following this plan make me rich? Will I have more money at the end of this journey?” We can say without a doubt that if you follow the program, you will feel much happier and live life with an attitude of abundance. You may very well have more money. But at the end of the day, as Charlene puts it, the number of zeros in your bank account won’t buy you self -esteem, love, or gratitude. (Remember, of the five Affluence Intelligence priorities, only one concerns money.) As you tap into your Afflu- ence Intelligence, you will exercise the muscles needed to gain what we call “financial satisfaction”—a life that finds harmony between money and personal fulfillment.

This is the historical moment to discover and leverage your Affluence Intelligence. The aftermath of the Great Recession has been a wake -up call for all of us, a time for the rethinking of what really matters—not just for the banking industry, but for how each of us thinks about and plans for our daily lives. We have all seen the havoc created when large institutions overly focus on “the money of the moment,” losing track of their raison d’être, forgetting the bigger picture. Indeed, for some of these companies, their loss of perspective has meant their demise, ultimately having a powerful impact on most people around the globe. This same phenomenon happens to individuals, when they let a fraction of what is important define the whole, when they lose perspective of who they are and what makes them happy. Now, more than ever, each of us needs to take the opportunity to reprioritize, to maximize our strengths, and to build joyous and satisfying lives. It is time for all of us to take a serious look at the types of choices we make and goals we set, so that we can achieve an optimal balance of self, family, and social satisfaction that meets our deepest needs and wants.

Beyond luck and timing, what enabled our clients to become wealthy, and then to sustain it? Without a doubt, our clients have shown us that it was always more than an obsession with having a lot of money that led to their success. They did exactly what we’ve been talking about in this book; they had the desire and real commitment to be engaged with what truly matters to them, and to use the appropriate AI attitudes and behaviors necessary to make choices that provided them with personal and financial satisfaction. Listen to George, a sixty -year -old self -made millionaire in real estate construction, answer his adult children’s question, What made you so successful? What did you do that others do not?

He responded, I’m so grateful for our good fortune. There are many people who worked as hard and as long as we did and did not get the big payoff. But I woke up excited and ready every day I got up to go to work. Time flew by. We put together a management team. Really, the whole company worked as a team—that gave their all. Everyone offered to do what they did well, and were never hesitant to run the extra mile when needed. Every day we focused on working hard, doing our best, having integrity, and having a great time. We had fun together. We took care of each other. Yes, we were good at marketing our know -how, and we were lucky to be in a part of the country that was on the economic upswing. Of course we wanted to be profitable. But we built this business on our abilities, not on meeting a particular economic goal. We listened well to the feedback our clients gave. We made sure they were satisfied. I can honestly say that I would be very happy today even if we hadn’t struck gold. Some of the best days I will always remember were in the first few years, when we were struggling. We had to make daily decisions as to how to maximize our efforts, and reduce risks to survive. All my life I have found that when I follow my interests and abilities, I have been successful. And that is what I wish for all of my children.

As in George’s story, if you were to follow affluent people as they go through an average day, you would see that they are acutely aware of how they spend their time, and that they enjoy taking risks that challenge them but do not push them to live outside of their means. These are people who are assertive and careful, fun and focused, leaders who love to build teams, people who enjoy giving back. Like all of us, they have vulnerabilities and shortcomings. But they are not ashamed to acknowledge them; they work around them, or they are open to learning from them. No matter how large or small your pocketbook, life is a roller - coaster ride. You want the best ride possible. For some this comes naturally, but most of us have to stay aware and work at keeping our attitudes and actions in synch with our goals. This does not mean being like the people we read about in The Millionaire Next Door, people who simply save their pennies for a rainy day, taking the most conservative route to wealth. Rather, it’s about people staying focused on the big picture—where you are going in your life—and at the same time enjoying the process. Keep your eye on the goal. This will give you perspective—a way of being engaged, but not enveloped, by a relationship, business, or activity. Live your life being aware that this is the only one you will ever have. If you are completely content with your life, that’s wonderful. But if you feel that something is missing or that other people have something you don’t have, and you want to learn from people who live rich and fulfilling lives, then make a commitment to using these strategies.

We believe that those with Affluence Intelligence share a perspective on life similar to those who are on a serious spiritual path: They are wholly engaged in life, but do not identify with any one single particular aspect of it. In the chapter on resetting your Affluence Factor thermostat, we talked about the defense of “grasping.” This involves a psychological attachment that is so pursued, valued, and tightly held that a disappointment can result in feeling a loss of oneself, like a life-ending tragedy. When we are entrapped by this kind of disappointment, we need to be able to step back from feeling that all is lost and regain perspective. Here it is useful to exercise the capacity for merging. This capacity (available in all of us) provides for that special tender closeness in love, and requires “merging without merging,” which means being able to be very close without the loss of one’s personal boundaries and selfhood.1 So it is with success. As you pursue your goals with passion and perseverance, know that the process itself is a payoff. In the practice of meditation, it is the experience of the “mind watching the mind,” not the attainment of realization or Nirvana (which may only come in fleeting moments), that is the core of spiritual work. Similarly, if you engage in practicing your AI action plan consistently (realize that there will be good days and bad days), you will achieve success. The ultimate goal is to attain inner freedom, a sense of security and empowerment, the ability to see the array of choices that are available to you, and be able to rally your resources to respond effectively to external circumstances, both within and beyond your control.

Like any program that you undertake to improve yourself, whether it is a diet, exercise regimen, or life -strategy plan, you will only succeed if your efforts are sustained. We encourage you to have a new bottom line, a new foundation for what you expect and can get from life. Make it real by committing to your Affluence Intelligence program of sustainability. If you want Affluence Intelligence, then you need to get fully on board. This means making the commitment to focus, follow through, and have faith in the process. As one of our clients is fond of saying, you have to: “Do what you say and say what you do.”

You must ignore the negative internal voice that tells you that you do not have it in you to succeed, and instead listen to the voice that wants what is best for you, that wants you to be affluent. You must work toward the money, focusing on what matters most, following through on your commitments, and managing your defenses in ways that help rather than hinder your progress. For some it will take doing hard work, while for others it can be as simple as saying “no” on a daily basis to what is holding you back and saying “yes” to what is right for you. This means no more excuses—you maintain a deep and unwavering belief in yourself and in the process.

Take the leap.

Finally, while having enough money for your needs and wants is important, we believe that people’s lives should not be primarily governed by money. In fact, people who make money their central value typically neither preserve their wealth nor their family unity. These are the families that will suffer from the three -generation wealth phenomenon: in more than 80 percent of cases, the wealth created will be gone by the end of the third generation.

Are some of the wealthy into their money for the power, for the influence it offers? Yes, absolutely. But when power is what drives someone to acquire wealth, the payoff is limited, and may not result in deep, sustainable personal satisfaction. We’ve all heard the stories of the lonely rich person, living in a home that is nothing more than a gilded cage. They leave home only to shop and acquire more than they’ll ever need. They find themselves in a world of people they can’t trust, or “friends” that they have bought. Lacking a sense of meaning and purpose, not having joy in their relationships, they go through life feeling ill at ease with themselves and looking for the next distraction to fill in the void. Our client Max, for example, was extremely afraid of people finding out that he had inherited millions of dollars. He lived in a small northwestern town in an upper middle class home. He was obsessed with the fear of how his money would lead him to be exploited, hurt, or physically injured. So he hunkered down and pretended to not have money. His escape valve was occasional trips to Manhattan, staying at the Four Seasons for a week or two, spending freely (he had only acquaintances, not close friends in New York City), and then returning to his withdrawn existence.

This is not living a life of affluence. This is being rich, lonely, and depressed. Increasing your Affluence Intelligence allows you more joy and satisfaction, in yourself, with the people you love, and in your community. You, like Howard or Charlene, Amy or David, can be leaders and team players, valued members of their communities. Max’s story, and the story of the many people we have encountered where big money only meant big problems, led us to create the Money, Meaning & Choices Institute. But it was people whose stories were filled with triumph, passion, and optimism that led us to write this book. It was from these American success stories that we learned the importance of living all seven elements of Affluence Intelligence. No one element trumps the others, including having money.

We have dedicated our professional careers to helping people live better lives. And we want you to live a better life, too. Spending time talking to people who have become very rich, who also manage to have personal integrity, to truly invest in their important relationships, and are concerned about how they can best improve the lives of others, has been inspiring to us. What is perhaps most inspiring is that they are really just like us—not some different, rare breed, or blue blooded, wildly smart, or gorgeous. What makes these very wealthy and successful people different from the rest of us? The answer is that they believed that they could change the stories of their lives. Not perfectly, and not always with the best timing. And certainly not without detours and bumps in the road. But they believed that being affluent was possible, and that they had the power within, to stay focused and find the resources in the world around themselves to make that happen. Just as that is possible for you.

Being affluent is within your grasp. Visualize having the keys in your hand, watching yourself put the key inside the lock, hearing the tumblers turn, and the lock click open. Now feel the key in your pocket, waiting for your initiative and courage to use it to start the journey. Let the Affluence Intelligence keys unlock the power that is already inside you, taking you to a place of greater personal and financial wealth.

Keys for unlocking your Affluence Intelligence:

  • Adjust your attitude: make the commitment, do the work.
  • Keep the faith: believe in yourself, believe in your goals.
  • The process is the product: the journey toward the goal is as satisfying (if not more so) as getting to the goal itself.
  • There’s a price and a payoff for your choices: create a life with little regret.
  • Stop moving without thinking: identify what really matters to you. Remind yourself daily.
  • You are the builder, the creator of your future: don’t let the future be overly defined by the past.
  • Keep perspective: don’t define the whole of your happiness by any one fraction.
  • Start small: just getting started is a success in itself.
  • Remember that financial worth is not equal to self -worth. Unlock your Affluence Intelligence, and live a life that best reflects who you really are.