Have you ever known anyone in search of the missing piece? Someone who feels incomplete and is trying to fill the void inside of them with things? I have. And I’ve been that person.
In Shell Silverstein’s wonderful poem, The Missing Piece, we’re introduced to a fellow who’s missing a piece. This fellow sets out on a journey to find its missing piece and has many encounters and experiences. If you’ve never read it, I encourage you to do so. You can also watch a short video version on YouTube.
The moral of the story is this; you’ll never find what you’re looking for anywhere other than inside yourself. You can scour the earth in search of what you’re missing, but (hopefully) you’ll eventually discover it was inside you all along.
As humans, we’re constantly trying to improve, optimize, and hack things. We’re trying to fill gaps and holes with stuff, and even other people. When we do this, we’re frustrated because any relief is temporary. The only way to fill the missing piece inside of us is to fill it ourselves.
I’m going to give you the steps to fill your missing piece.
As a financial advisor, I’ve been helping people improve their relationship with money for over 20 years. The lessons I’ve learned doing this are transferable to every other aspect of life. I’m honored to be named to Investopedia’s list of the top 100 financial advisors many years running.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- This is an inside job
- The unexamined life
- Managing expectations
- Community and people
Let’s get started.
This is an inside job
“You complete me.” – Jerry Maguire
A great movie line. Terrible life advice.
The solution to an incomplete person is not the addition of another person. This is true of two people in a relationship, and it’s true of adding a child to a struggling marriage. Other humans are not your missing piece.
This is also true of money and possessions. If you’re discontent and unhappy, no amount of money, or things, will solve that problem.
The only way to find true and lasting contentment and happiness is to find it yourself. Once you’ve done that, you’re able to enjoy relationships with others, as well as money and possessions. It’s the oxygen mask analogy; when you’re getting ready to take off, the flight attendant tells you to secure your oxygen mask first, then attend to the needs of others. So how do you do it?
The unexamined life
“I say that it is the greatest good for a (wo)man to discuss virtue every day and those other things about which you hear me conversing and testing myself and others, for the unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates
Living an examined life means thinking about what you want, who you are, and how you do things. Once you’ve answered those questions, it’s living accordingly. Think about it like this:
Goals = What you want
Values = Who you are
Habits = How you do things
The only way to live how you want is to know how you want to live. Do you think most people know how they want to live? Do you? It took me a long time to understand that I needed to ask myself these questions. And it’s my life’s work to answer them. As it is for you.
Living an examined life means there’s no end point. You’re never done doing it.
You must constantly and relentlessly work to improve yourself and to get better. In this pursuit, you’ll fill any missing pieces you may have.
You recognize the importance of goals. But too few of us have taken the time to set them. In service of helping you get clear on what you want, you can access our Goals course for free.
Your values are the lens through which you see the world, and they serve as parameters for your decision making. Embodying your values gives evidence to the world of what you believe and who you are. To help you clarify yours, you can access our Values course for free as well.
Finally, your habits. These are the physical expressions of your goals and values. When you cultivate habits that are aligned to your goals and values, you’ll enjoy a happy and contented life. We experience dissatisfaction when we do the opposite.
“The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either – but right through every human heart.” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Being virtuous doesn’t mean the inability to do bad things. It means having the ability to do bad things, and choosing not too. It’s having strength, but using it for good instead of evil.
In your pursuit of finding your missing piece(s), you should not expect perfection. You’ll fall short from time to time, and you’ll do things which you’re ashamed of. This is part of the human condition. The trick is learning and growing from all your experiences. It’s working to get better every day and measuring yourself only against yesterday’s version of you.
Community and people
“I can be someone else’s piece and still be my own.” – The Missing Piece
While it’s essential you focus on becoming the best possible version of you, I’m not saying other people won’t play an integral part in your life. Quite the opposite.
The famous Harvard Grant study sought to discover what makes a happy life. One of the key findings was that it’s the quality of our relationships.
I’m advocating that you make yourself strong and capable. When you do that, you’re making yourself invaluable to the people you care for. You do your part by doing your best. When you do that, you’ll not only be a happy and contented person, you’ll also be an inspiration to those around you.
Stop looking outside of yourself for answers. Pursue excellence in every area of your life. Doing so will be the missing pieces you’re looking for.
If you’re ready to take control of your financial life, check out our DIY Financial Plan course.
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