Bridging The Gap Between What’s Really Important And How We Actually Live

Paddle Boarding in the ocean

You say you want to spend more time with your family, but instead, stay late at the office to get ahead in your career.

You vow to give back to your community by volunteering, but can’t work it into your schedule.

In short, there’s a disconnect between people’s words and actions when it comes to what matters most, says Lee Stoerzinger, a financial planner, and author of “On The Back Burner,” which explores how Americans can align the values they espouse with the values they live.

“In theory, we should all try to live a life that is as close as possible to what we say we care about most,” he says. “In reality, that doesn’t happen.”

Too often, how people think about money gets them off track, Stoerzinger says. They strive for the highest-paying job, an expensive car and a luxurious house.

As a financial planner, he understands the importance of money and how crucial it is to manage it wisely.

But as a family man who adopted two Haitian children orphaned by a 2010 earthquake, he also knows a person’s legacy shouldn’t be limited to material goods bequeathed to family members.

“When you think about it, defining your values should be easy,” Stoerzinger says. “It’s what you believe about God. It’s how you want to raise your children. It’s what you want to spend your free time doing.”

The trick is to create a mindset that helps you give greater weight to what matters most and inspires you to act. Anyone can take steps to get thinking and acting in the right direction, Stoerzinger says, such as:

• Focus on family activities. Create a new family tradition, such as organizing a monthly game night, buying tickets to a baseball game in the summer, or taking an annual road trip. You could have donuts the morning of your kid’s birthday, start a family book club or visit a shelter once a month to fee the homeless.
• Connect with nature. Go birding, take canyon hikes with your dog, go shelling at the beach, go kayaking on the lake, paint outdoors, see the bigger picture and look at the sky. “The world is full of wonders to de-stress and bless us,” Stoerzinger says.
• Give back. Consider how you can be a servant in your community without donating money. Who has needs you can meet? Think about your true passions in life. Who can benefit from your skills?

“We can continue complaining about money, stress and schedules,” Stoerzinger says. “Or we can admit that we need to step back, define what’s important to us and live our lives with dedication to those things.”