For centuries, people have studied Shakespeare for his wit and his wisdom. For the past few months, I’ve been sharing some of that wisdom in a series of letters called:
Shakespeare on Finance
Shakespeare never actually wrote about finance, of course. But as we’ve seen, many of his most memorable lines contain important financial lessons. This month, we’re going to end this series with a quote from perhaps the Bard’s greatest play of all: Hamlet.
“This above all – to thine own self be true.”
On the surface, this might not seem to have anything to do with finances – but it does. You see, as you work toward your financial goals, you may often be tempted – or even advised – to do or want things that aren’t true to your own goals, values, and character.
For example, it’s not uncommon for people to spend money on flashy purchases they don’t really need or want, like a boat, a sports car, or a bigger house, just for the status it brings, or because their friends and neighbors have done it.
It’s not uncommon for people to take risks with their investments which they’re not really comfortable doing, just to follow the crowd or because some loud TV pundit told them to.
It’s not uncommon for people to give up on the goals they’ve set for themselves because someone else convinced them it would be impossible.
In short, it’s not uncommon for people to wander off the path that leads to their dreams, all because they were trying to make someone else happy instead of themselves.
This may seem so elementary that it goes without saying. But in all my years as a financial advisor, it’s a mistake I’ve seen happen time and time again. It’s why one of the most important financial lessons of all can be summed up in six monosyllabic words: to thine own self be true.
To put it simply, you get to decide what your goals are – no one else. You get to decide what you want to accomplish and what you want to protect. You get to decide your personal investment style. You get to decide what you do with your money. You are in control of your own financial future.
There may be many people in this world that you care about, people who factor into your financial decisions. But when it comes to setting the destination of your financial journey, the only person who matters is you.
So, whenever you make financial decisions, remember this above all:
To thine own self be true.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these “Shakespeare on Finance” letters as much I’ve enjoyed writing them.
The Bard once said that “all the world’s a stage.” I firmly believe that if you apply a little Shakespearean wisdom to your finances, you can make your performance a great one.