What’s the most important asset?
As an early retiree, I got a lot of time to do day dreaming and self reflections. Lately I keep asking myself: “What’s the most important asset to me?”
Is it money, or something else?
In my case, money is NOT the most important asset.
Obviously, money is important. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to retire early. Money makes it possible for me to have the basics I need: food, clothes, shelter, and transportation.
Money brings me material comfort, and joy. I love money. But, it also causes me worry, and stress. Do I have enough that will last for the rest of my life? Can I have more? It may never be enough. Sometimes chasing money is like chasing a mirage. The insatiable hunger is always there.
First – Health:
The most important asset to me is Health. Good health is priceless. I wouldn’t trade it, period.
Many of us, including myself, take the good health for granted.
When considering our own assets, we’ll list the house equity, 401K, other stocks and mutual funds, cars, etc. How many of us will include Good Health?
A couple of years ago, I had a neighbor, a very nice couple. Their 2-year old boy was sick, and had to stay at the hospital for several days. After the boy was released, we talked. After seeing so many young kids ill and bedridden at the hospital, they told me what a big blessing to be healthy. That’s really true.
Let me count the blessings of being healthy:
- To be able to SEE kids playing, people smiling, flowers blooming …
- To be able to HEAR the beautiful sound (and the ugly ones like the car honks, or people yelling), and TALK with people.
- To be able to WALK and RUN. Remember, many people are not that lucky, and are on the wheelchairs, or using walkers/canes due to health issues.
- To be able to DO things using the hands and mind.
- To be able to REMEMBER things: who we are, who the family and friends are, the childhood, schools, etc.
- On and on …
Is it great to be healthy? Absolutely. If you have it, you are super lucky, and rich. Appreciate it, and try not to take it for granted. The truth of the matter is: it could suddenly go away without any notice. We know it, and we saw it.
The second important asset to me is Personal Safety. Probably, this only pops up in our head, when hearing about the natural disaster, terrorist attacks, traffic or airplane accidents, crimes or violence.
I’m a news junkie. Influenced by those news channels, I feel this world is not that safe anymore. Risks are everywhere. And personal safety becomes precious.
At the end of each day, it is really wonderful to see ourselves and the loved ones coming home safe and sound.
The third is the Personal Freedom. Some might question: is freedom really an asset? I think so. Let me explain why.
Look at those prisoners. They have to follow the rigid schedule to eat, exercise, work, and sleep. No privacy, no choices. Their world is so limited within the barb wire fenced walls.
Not all of them are career criminals. Some smart people made one-time stupid mistakes, and ended up there for years. And some even didn’t do anything wrong, and were incarcerated wrongly or for political reasons. It’s not that hard to lose the freedom, right?
Sometimes, when I wake up, my first thought is: how lucky I am, I’m free! I can go anywhere, and do anything, as long as the laws allow. Though I never went to prison, I’m sure the life there is not fun. That’s not a place I look forward to experiencing, never.
My final thought:
Another is happiness, or life satisfaction. Some may call it life contentment, or wellbeing. I won’t dig into the details, as I’m not a psychologist.
In summary, I try to put my assets into a pie chart. All the 5 components are essential to me. I wouldn’t be able to live a good life if any is missing. And they are inter-related.
This pie chart does not show any dollar value. The percentage means how important each component is to my life, assuming the whole importance of my life is 100%.
I hope this chart is clear enough to make the point. Most probably, I’m comparing apples with oranges. Hey, I used to be an engineer. Some engineers enjoy living in the vacuum, mumbling the jargon, and manipulating the numbers. They may never realize that, the numbers may not make any sense at the very beginning. And that’s me.
What is the most important asset to you?