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Wealth Lessons Everyone Should Hear for Every Stage of Your Life

Do you have the courage to rewrite your story?

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what i would tell my younger self

Do you see what I see? Likely not, as we each see ourselves through the lens of our own story.

Here’s a snapshot of mine.

I grew up lower middle class.  I was overweight and bullied in school, which had a lasting emotional effect well beyond the years of bullying. My mother was a homemaker and my dad worked around the clock so he was rarely home. 

After a defining moment involving being bullied and then being inspired by the movie sensation Rocky at the time, I laced up my tennis shoes and went for a run. From that day on, fitness became my church in many ways and it shaped my discipline. I thrived as a straight A student and then married and had my first child during my last year of college…1983. 

My career in wealth management followed a few years later along with my second child. My career and life have seen incredible lows….and highs! – the market crash of 2000-2002, the Great Recession from 2007-2009 and the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020. 

I navigated a divorce, found love again (and we just celebrated our 17-year anniversary!) and became a father for a third time in my 50s. With all of its ups and downs, the one thing I know for sure is that I wouldn’t change any of it as it made me who I am today.

What I would share with my younger self

We often hear the phrase, “What would you tell your younger self?” For me, when I look in the mirror, I think about what I would tell myself at various stages in life like my 20s.

During this phase, it was all about the hustle, and there was no real balance. I feel like it was fight or flight mode all the time.

What I would tell my 20ish self:

  • Work to find balance – your happiness depends on it.
  • Live a little – laughter is like medicine.
  • Spend as much time with your kids as you can – it goes by SO quick!
  • Set goals and track them.
  • YOU are going to make it (be dedicated and consistent).

I was reflecting on my 30s and all of the lessons I learned in this period of time. It may have been a little rocky (yes that is a nod to the movie that inspired me to get fit), but by taking the lessons, I learned the value of learning versus winning.

If I was talking to my 30ish self I would say:

  • It’s better to cut your losses early – time is invaluable.
  • It’s okay to start over – failure isn’t final.
  • Eat more pizza – an indulgence here or there won’t derail you.

If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life – are you working or doing what you love?
Integrity always- your reputation should be your most coveted possession – act accordingly.

I don’t know if its just me but in my 40s I realized that you need to channel grit to outlast life. Mentally, emotionally and physically I realized that longevity and sustainability in all ways was key.

If I had a chance to sit down with my 40ish self I would say:

  • Trust your gut – it’s usually right.
  • For every door that closes, another opens. Don’t be afraid of closed doors. They are redirections.
  • Life is a marathon, not a sprint – train accordingly every day.

My 50s were empowering – not because they were easy – but because I learned the importance of mastering uncertainty. In life, the one constant is change so if you can learn to master uncertainty, you are already ahead.

A few other things I learned in my 50s include:

  • You cannot control the market = it took me a long time to accept this but it is a universal truth.
  • Things don’t always turn out as planned – and that is ok – as they turned out as they were supposed to.
  • Be brave when others are fearful – after all, fear is often simply “false evidence appearing real,” as our minds like to create all sorts of stories.

Do you have the courage to rewrite your story? Today in my 60s I look back at myself on the day I laced up my tennis shoes and went on the shortest yet hardest run I have ever been on. I remember thinking…my life cannot always be this way. 

I have to create change. Were my runs easy while I was over weight? Did the bullying voices immediately go away? No. Change doesn’t happen overnight. It requires discipline, dedication and consistency. 

But am I grateful beyond measure that I put on my running shoes that day and committed to change? Yes. I can’t imagine where I would be today had I not made that decision. So, have the courage to rewrite your story if needed. No explanation necessary. Make the choice to make the change.

With over three decades of dedication and service, Bart A. Zandbergen is an esteemed Certified Financial Planner® and the Founder and CEO of The Zandbergen Group. As a nationally recognized authority in financial planning and investment advising, as well as a Certified Divorce Financial Advisor®, he has devoted his career to guiding clients to a life full of purpose and financial freedom through personalized financial planning. His integrity, laser sharp focus and skill at guiding his clientele’s financial future led to him being recognized as one of the nation’s top 1% of financial advisors, according to Forbes Magazine. Bart is also an accomplished public speaker; his expert point of view has been published in The New York Times, Forbes, The Orange County Register, Nobleman Magazine, Mensbook, Modern Luxury, Wellbeing Magazine, and Riviera.

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