Death and taxes are said to be the only certainties in life.  This week, because of all the serious illnesses and loss of clients, their loved ones and friends over the past year or so, we highlight a few things on measuring what really counts in the end.

How Will You Measure Your Life? The most powerful motivator in our lives isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute to others, and be recognized for achievements. Clayton Christensen, author of the Innovator’s Dilemma, and also of Harvard Business School (HBS), applies his management theory to help students make better decisions about allocating their personal time, energy, and talent to shape their life’s strategy. Many of his former HBS classmates inadvertently took paths of hollow unhappiness, unconsciously drawn to activities yielding immediate gratification, which landed some in jail. They didn’t keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they decided how to spend their time, talents, and energy.  For Christensen, having a clear purpose has been essential.  His recommendation:  Think about the metric by which to measure your life, and make a resolution to live every day so that in the end, your life will be judged a success.

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The Moral Bucket List.  David Brooks, columnist of The New York Times, writes that about once a month he runs across a person who radiates inner light.  These people have certain virtues talked about at their funerals—whether they were kind, brave, honest or faithful.  He concludes that wonderful people are made, not born. Their “unfakeable” inner virtue is built slowly from specific moral and spiritual accomplishments.    These people are “stumblers” whose lives often follow a pattern of defeat, recognition, and redemption. The stumbler faces her imperfect nature with unvarnished honesty.  The stumbler doesn’t build her life by being better than others, but by being better than she used to be.  For most of her life her inner and outer ambitions are strong and in balance.  But eventually, at moments of rare joy, the stumbler looks at life with acceptance of the fact that life has treated her much better than she deserves. These are the people we want to be.

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Where do I stack up?  It is an insatiable curiosity for many to know the thresholds of income and net worth that places them in specific thresholds—whether among the 1%, 5%, or another threshold.  This article contains information by income. Be sure to click the embedded links in the article.

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For a net worth measure, see the Survey of Consumer Finances, compiled every three years by the Federal Reserve.  For net worth percentiles, see page 12.

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We hope you enjoy reading these articles along with us and that you find them informative.  Please forward this to your friends and family.

J. Mark Nickell & Co.

Disclosure – The articles mentioned in This Week with J. Mark Nickell & Co. are for information and educational purposes only. They represent a sample of the numerous articles that the firm reads each week to stay current on financial and economic topics. The articles are linked to websites separate from the J. Mark Nickell & Co. website. The opinions expressed in these articles are the opinions of the author and not J. Mark Nickell & Co. This is not an offer to buy or sell any security.  J. Mark Nickell & Co. is under no obligation to update any of the information in these articles. We cannot attest to the accuracy of the data in the articles.