Sunday, February 20, 2011

Walking-Away Money: What’s Your Number? & Schwartzie's Law

Walking-Away Money: What’s Your Number? & Schwartzie's Law

The #1 ranked personal finance article on February 15, 2011 in the The Wall Street Journal Online’s Personal Finance section was titled, “Walking-Away Money: What’s Your Number?” polling the answers from Asian countries as well as India.
The South Korea the ‘walking away number” was the high of $5.1 million while Indonesia was the low of $3 million to walk away from one’s job (or in American colloquial slang ‘to take this job and shove it.’)However given ‘their number attained,’ such that one is no longer ‘financially beholden’ to the job, the article stops short failing to ask the pertinent follow up questions to what is your walk away number:

· What would you walk away to?
· Will this number bring me the implicit unquestioned desire of ‘happiness’ and or allow the pursuit of happiness?

Be careful what you ask the gods for they may grant it
Oscar Wilde

Ironically, The Walk Away Money – take this job and shove it – once attained typically causes other problems. (Solve problem #1 and problem #2 is invariably promoted!)
Typically the first manifestation is the avoidance (which conceals the problem of ‘what next’) as observed and revealed in the following behaviors including:
· Seeking a cushion to the walk away number ‘just in case’ Increasing the walk away number
· Doing all those ‘someday things’ – which in short time lose their luster as their spouse complains: ‘for better or worse but not for lunch’

We foolishly pair ‘the walk away number’ with ‘happiness.’ We chase ‘the walk away number’ like a dog chasing his tail or Charlie Sheen. And worse, we engage in the chase typically without calibrating the amount specific to our financial goals – other than motherhood statements masking the underlying amorphous unattainable ‘more’. The unquestioned assumption that the walk away number will yield happiness is the grand self delusional safari.
Happiness per Gilbert in Stumbling to Happiness is merely a relative measure comparing to others (externally) for our worthiness. This relative happiness is ‘my husband makes a $100 more a week than my sister’s spouse’ per the H L Mencken analogy. Pascal Bruckner in Perpetual Euphorial happiness is a ‘pitiless idol’ promising self fulfillment which ironically is delusional felicity marked by folly creating its own miseries not the least of which is derived from the expectation of happiness (‘hoax and chump change’).
And the circle _______ (you fill in the blank) remains unbroken.

In reality this folly of happiness is ‘getting what you want’ until what you wanted wasn’t ‘enough’ (again). (Schwartzie’s Law)

Therefore, ‘the walk away number,’ does not- cannot yield happiness. However it may yield greater choice if one knows where they are walking toward…

We have to have free will. We have no other choice
Isaac Singer

Yogi Berra said, ‘if you don’t know where you are going any road will take you there.’ The walk away number is half baked unless one knows where he is walking toward. Invariably, this is a question of meaning IN one’s life.
Unanswered, the walk away number attained will just anesthetize for a while until a new and improved walk away number is rationalized, justified, and substituted and so that the pursuit of more can divert attention from ‘the hole in the soul.’

In Torah, Abraham walked ahead of God while Noah walked side by side.
Walking toward, walking with, and walking ahead are the questions of Enough – and not just financially.
In the ‘mean’time, determine ‘enough’ specifically, what you are walking toward with equanimity (rising above the good and the bad as Mussar masters would define) – in ‘your walks of life.’

Otherwise, as Fonzi in ‘HAPPY Days’ would say while grabbing one handed his privates, “You want your number? I got your number from Select Comfort.”

Jim Schwartz
A Man of Dog ©, K9 Concierge ©, Pawduciary©
Protection & Connection
(and sometimes, Personal Financial Life Philosopher)

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