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In partnership with Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management

Finding a Purpose for Your Wealth

Wealth psychologist Dr Jamie Traeger-Muney explains how individuals can find a purpose for their wealth.

By Elite Traveler

You can have all the wealth in the world, but it often won’t feel like enough if it’s not grounded in purpose. At an event for Goldman Sachs Private Wealth Management clients, wealth psychologist Dr Jamie Traeger-Muney spoke about the need to find out how wealth inheritors and creators approach a fundamental question: ‘What’s the purpose of my wealth?’

Traeger-Muney has spent decades observing the qualitative aspect of financial success and analyzing the human relationships behind data on wealth planning. She has developed an actionable three-part method for finding that purpose, which starts with self-reflection on the past, present and future.

“You can’t understand what you’re doing in the present if you don’t examine your past and envision your future,” Traeger-Muney explains.

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Start by reflecting on your origin story

Your past and the way you were raised influences your approach to current decisions / ©Shutterstock

How and when you were raised influences your approach to financial decisions. Reflecting on the implicit and explicit money messages and lessons you learned as a child can help you evaluate the validity of these narratives in your worldview today.

Ask yourself: Are these attitudes helping me create the legacy I envision? If not, what new storylines can I incorporate to meet my current needs and goals?

Delving into your personal history will often follow your family’s journey. Whose shoulders are you standing on, and is it where you want to be? If not, try reconnecting with the family values you want to emulate, while accepting any difficult realities of the past.

“Seek out family or friends who can provide accurate information about your shared history,” Traeger-Muney advises. “It can help address the mystique that often surrounds past success.”

Learning the truth about your family’s stories of struggle, hard work and sacrifice are good reminders to keep your expectations feasible, especially when challenges arise in your journey. One challenge is navigating the complex emotions around wealth. Traeger-Muney has observed unspoken feelings of shame and loneliness that come with generational wealth, privilege, success and legacy.

If these feelings come up, acknowledge them without being hard on yourself, she advises. A lack of empathy can result in self-limiting and destructive narratives that distract from finding your purpose. Seeking out safe spaces with like-minded people allows for honest conversation, connection and understanding.

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Create your future now

Envision yourself in ten years to create your future now / ©Shutterstock

Moving from the past to the future, examine your idea of legacy now and notice if it has changed. Did mining the core stories from your past help you recognize a forgotten personal interest or value you want to pursue? This process is the start of incrementally “future-creating,” anchoring your identity in a value system and using today’s resources to support your desired outcome.

Traeger-Muney suggests envisioning yourself ten years from now, to create your future now. Who are you, in detail? What do your family, career, interests, goals and contributions to the world look like? How do you feel about this version of yourself, and is the idealized future a place where you have more purpose than today? Then you can start connecting the two.

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Bring past and future reflections back to the present

Using the past and future as guides, the third step is to address the present. What are you involved in that makes you feel like your truest self? Where do you feel most fulfilled? These touchpoints will lead you to your natural talents and supporting causes you genuinely enjoy.  

The next step is accountability in reaching your goals. Declare your vision of success out loud to an accountability partner in a non-judgmental space, because it will increase the probability you will follow through on your action items.

“Finding your purpose is an evolving plan, not a set it and forget it approach,” Traeger-Muney observes. “Revisit your vision every three to five years to tailor a future self that is bespoke to your growth and changing needs.”

Finally, challenge yourself to question typical views of success and free yourself from self-judgment. Envisioning a different future doesn’t require permission so be as wild as possible in declaring what you want. You can incorporate joy and fun in the reflection process to bring light to and remove pressure from legacy discussions.

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General disclosure

This material is intended for educational purposes only and is provided solely on the basis that it will not constitute investment advice and will not form a primary basis for any personal or plan’s investment decisions. While it is based on information believed to be reliable, no warranty is given as to its accuracy or completeness and it should not be relied upon as such. Information and opinions provided herein are as of the date of this material only and are subject to change without notice. Goldman Sachs is not a fiduciary with respect to any person or plan by reason of providing the material herein. Information and opinions expressed by individuals other than Goldman Sachs employees do not necessarily reflect the view of Goldman Sachs. Information and opinions are as of the date of the event and are subject to change without notice.

 © 2022 Goldman Sachs. All rights reserved.

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