Posts

Birth Order and Behavior

One of the questions I am often asked is does birth order influence your behavioral style?

Well, based on the research we have performed, birth order does not influence your natural behavior. When I say natural behavior, I mean the core “hard-wired” behavior which is based on genetics and then shaped into you up to 3 years old. The natural behavior changes very little throughout your life. Understanding the influence of natural behavior is important because it is very influential on your life motivations and hence how you make decisions.

In some families you see the eldest child being the more dominant, independent, and risk taker type with the youngest being the more engaging and harmonious type. Then, in another family with the same number of children it is exactly the reverse. There is no trend either way. Further, you cannot predict which child will be more successful. The same is true of single children families. The only child could have any type of behavioral style across the full spectrum – dominant, harmonious, risk takers and creative. Generally, when there are 2 or 3 children in the family they will be very different. However, when there are 4 or more children then you may have 2 who are quite similar, yet they will still be unique.

What I would say is that the birth order could nevertheless influence some aspects of the longer term personality development which takes place after the age of 3 years. This will be because as children are born circumstances or environments in that family change and the opportunities are different for each of them. In some cases, the presence or influence of one or both parents may differ. For instance, I have seen a bankruptcy in a family have a great impact on the 2 eldest born because they had a lot taken away from them whereas the youngest 2 children hardly lived through it. Similarly, the death or serious illness of a parent could have a different influence on the eldest and youngest children. Or even a divorce. Also, there can be other factors such as the way in which one parent connects with one of the children e.g., the father with the eldest daughter or mother with the youngest son. So, what I am saying is that these types of factors are all an influence on personality and the birth order could matter. The influences on the personality development are much more specific situation driven.

Overall, I would say it is difficult to make definitive predictions of personality based on birth order. This is particularly because evidence shows the core natural behaviors which are foundational to personality development do not relate to birth order. It is difficult to say that the eldest child will always behave a certain way, then the middle children and the youngest child will also behave a certain way. The make-up of every family and the circumstances each lives through are different. That is as far as it goes. Therefore, there are no rules which generally apply.

Being or Doing

I am meeting and communicating with an increasing number of people who are searching for more meaning in their life. Or put another way discovering their life purpose.

To be honest, a lot of what many people are doing is just searching. Life purpose discovery is difficult and in many ways a journey in its own right. However, the process of discovery does become easier if a process is followed and you have a way of thinking about it.

I recently read a great book on life purpose, and by chance today found out that Oprah is currently doing a series on it. The book is “A New Earth – Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose” by Eckhart Tolle.

The concept Tolle puts forward is that you firstly need to find your inner purpose – which in essence is your consciousness. The first step is to become more conscious of who you are and get into a state of Being. To a large degree this is being comfortable who you are at the core and going with the flow. Then once you have reached a higher degree of consciousness and your ego is no longer running your life then it is about finding your outer purpose – the awakened Doing. This is a lot more about what you do based on being awakened through a higher level of consciousness. Ultimately, both the Being and Doing have to be integrated and are closely related, but the Being comes before the Doing. The key point here is that the Doing will change during your life as your environments and passions change, and the core of YOU is your Being.

How do you find your awakened Doing? Tolle says there are 3 modalities: acceptance – what you willingly do now, enjoyment – what you enjoy doing from the aliveness that flows into it, enthusiasm – means there is deep enjoyment plus the added element of a goal or vision that you work toward. In whatever you are doing, you are able to enjoy Being. I really believe this is a great model to help you connect your inner self to your outer world. Much of the Financial DNA approach is centered around behavioral assessment tools to help guide people find where their inner zone is for their life and then once comfortable with that integrate their money and life decisions. Whilst our approach is to some mechanical it does connect you to your energy and help raise your consciousness. Those who are truly able to make committed decisions for their life and finances usually have found their inner zone. What I then see is clearer goals, and less decisions based on emotions and ego.

So, start working on how you can raise your consciousness.

The Definition of Retirement is Changing

What is your definition of retirement? It might be good to think about that a bit. Do not just listen to the “noise” out there about what it means or what others are doing. Focus on you and who you are. You may just be surprised what retirement really means in the context of your life. The key point is that the definition of retirement will depend on your unique financial personality – how you are uniquely wired to make life and financial decisions. In effect, your financial personality will shape how you see life and deal with the retirement question. Whatever stage of your career or life you are at, addressing this question will be very liberating.

In recent times we have started to do a lot more work with the executives of corporations. In particular, we are delivering Quality Life Programs to executives participating in 401k plans. An interesting trend emerging is more and more executives are starting to realize that retirement does not necessarily mean they have to stop work. The point is, the definition of retirement is changing. A friend of mine who is a senior executive with a large fund manager providing retirement services and products to executives, said he is seeing the same trend of people including work in their definition of retirement. In fact, the discussion that their company has with executives is now becoming much more focused on getting each person to define what retirement means for them. Our focus is similar, bundling the question of retirement up with what is a “Quality Life” for you, again recognizing that this is different for everyone.

Another person recently said to me that their definition of retirement is “Doing what you want, when you want and with whom you want”. I thought that was a great one and truly resonated. How much freedom can you get from this type of thinking? Frankly, it is a lot. The person who said this was actually still working, the point being he is now in a role he loves to do every day. When you get this pinpointed it is amazing how you then find yourself around the people you enjoy being with, and managing your working schedule becomes easier. Again, the key is getting centered on who you are by addressing the retirement question from the inside out.

Even if you are a long way from the traditional retiring age of 60 or more, you can still address the question because the answer will shape a lot of career and life choices and hence your financial planning.